Confessions: Him Who Can’t Be Lost.
But it’s a happy person who loves you, God, and in you loves his friend, and loves his enemy because of you. The only one who never loses anyone dear to him is the one to whom everyone is dear through him who can’t be lost. —Saint Augustine, Confessions 4.14
The death of Augustine’s closest friend filled him with anguish. Everything that he had once shared with his friend that brought him joy then became torture. Everything repelled him, even daylight. Only in his groaning and tears, he found rest (4.12.1). For this reason, Augustine prayed “can I move my hearts ear to your mouth, so that you can tell me why weeping is pleasant for those in misery?” (4.10.1)
“Time doesn’t take any time off” (13.1). As the saying goes, “time heals all wounds.” He made new friends, found new places to enjoy, made new memories and new attachments. Which he was keenly aware that he could lose just as easily. “Taking its place were not other immediate sorrows, but attachments that would lead to other sorrows.” (4.13.1)
How is it that what brings us deep joy could also bring us deep sorrow? This is the cost of love. And hope is what makes the risk worth it. “And yet if we didn’t wail for your ears to hear it, there would be nothing left of our hope.” (4.10.1)
Hope is what makes us blessed. Hope is what makes us happy. Hope is why we bother to keep loving. Because the person who hopes in the Holy One of Israel can never lose anyone. How? God has not lost those who have died (Rom 6:8-11), and we cannot lose God. When we cling to the God of love, we also cling to those we have lost.
If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.—Romans 14:8-9
Lord, strengthen our hope that we may see your face and the face of those whom we love.
Note: These are my daily reflections as I go through Saint Agustine's Confessions. Unless otherwise noted, I am using Sarah Ruden's translation of the original text, and the NIV.