The Strange Pair of Joy and Tragedy

Soren Kierkegaard said, “When the age loses the tragic, it gains despair.”

This sounds profoundly right.

The elements of life that make tragedy possible are the same as the ones that fight off despair. For tragedy to be real there has to be something hugely precious, and there has to be the capacity to feel a great emotion. When these are both present, tragedy can happen.

Despair is the horrible blankness that settles over us when nothing is seen as precious anymore and there is no capacity to feel it anyway.

As great as our tragedy may be, if we feel it to the full, it is a sign that the weapons against despair are still in place.

Often the gifts of God come in strange pairs. “It has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29).

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.