A Note On Comedy and Tragedy

I’m not superstitious, but if the maxim that tragedies come in “threes” is true, I would be okay with it. Yesterday, for the third time in a week and a half, I got a phone call that someone close to me had passed away. As Terry Weber wrote about recently, our wonderfully successful production of Big River was riddled with difficulty and loss throughout the rehearsal process. Praise God that, even though the content is quite serious and tragic, Big River is full of laughter. But what do we do with the rest? How do we respond to such emotional exhaustion? How do we see the beauty and redemption in the midst of overwhelming tragedy?

In the middle of all this, a dear friend asked me how I was holding up. I told him the truth. If God were to ask me, I would say “I can’t.” When I ask God, He just says “I AM.” At first, such a reply from the God, known for unfailing love, would seem harsh and short. But when we dig deeper, and listen to His graceful whisper, we find that what He is saying is “I AM not changing; everything you need has always, already been wrapped up in who I AM.” There is no quote from a great work, no painting, no song that can fix it. The art of silence, the gift of presence, the patience of time, that is how we help a wound like these heal over.

In that silence, I have seen proof of the Holy Spirit. I have seen many folks clinging to the hope of Christ, that hope that does not disappoint, Paul tells us in Romans 5, hope that comes only after suffering, and perseverance. I have seen Christians literally become the Body of Christ, coming together and around those who hurt, like vessels bringing healing nutrients to begin rebuilding a wound. Because of Jesus, who knows grief far better than we, we have a hope that is stronger and greater than death.

This is a time to remember that God’s great redemption plan, the story that He is unfolding, can be seen in comedy and tragedy alike. God does not desire these pains for us, His plan is life and hope and joy in Him. Yes, He allows them to happen. Why? Well, I don’t know. But He does not leave us, or forsake us. He is right here, weeping at our pain, and interceding for us. So when we do not have anything to say but “I can’t”, listen closely. You will hear, and feel Him saying “child, I AM.”

Talk to me.

Ethan Norman
Artistic Associate, The WordPlayers