Faith in the midst of grief

Farmville Enterprise September 13, 2017

One died on August 30 and the other on September 2, just three days apart. One was a fifty-two-year-old husband, father, brother, uncle and son. By all accounts he was a patient, even-keeled and kind Christian man, exceptionally devoted to his wife and daughter. The other was an almost-eleven-year-old big brother and son. Through his eyes and smile he communicated encouragement to those around him, as he endured daily physical challenges plus frequent hospital stays.  Both were raised in North Carolina in caring churches by parents focused on God’s love and grace. These two mothers and a father now find themselves part of a group that people dread qualifying for. Bereaved parents.

They encounter a loss so deep that only others in the group can understand their pain. Those not in this group struggle to know how best to express tenderness and empathy. We pray. We hardly want to think what it must feel like to lose a child. In his book “A Grief Observed,” C. S. Lewis states that “the death of a beloved is an amputation.”

How does the world keep going? Why doesn’t it stop? How can one family’s world seem shattered while others keep showing up for work or school, performing daily mundane tasks? Why would God let this happen? Where is God in the midst of suffering? Does God have any idea what it feels like to lose a child? Did I really just wonder if God knows what it feels like to lose a son?

As is true regarding much of life, we do not have the answers. We are incapable of understanding many things that go on in our world. We definitely do not want to say to grieving parents that “everything happens for a reason” or that they will “get over this.” Often, the gifts of our presence and our prayers are better than any words we could say. As is true always, the Bible articulates it best.

“If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32) “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither heights nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39)

“’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

“Now the dwelling of God is with men and women, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

 

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