Two evenings ago, we attended a “Blue Christmas” service at a local church. The intent of the service is to minister to those who are hurting at this time of year, either due to the death of loved one or some other difficulty in his/her life. The main theme of the service is to focus our hope on the God of all comfort, Who sent His Son Jesus to this earth to redeem mankind.
There was a family at the service who lost a daughter within this past year. She died suddenly in a tragic accident. Several extended family members also in attended the service. We could see the bewilderment in their faces and were reminded of the early part of our journey after Isaac died. One of the extended family members, who was aware of our circumstances, asked us how we made it through the first year. After a careful pause, I replied that we made it through by trusting God at a deeper level than ever before and talking with other people, especially those who walked this journey before us.
As I reflected further on that person’s question and my response, I really noticed three keys that were integral to us making it through that first year after Isaac’s death:
Who else but Almighty God could lead us through? Yet, there were times when we didn’t feel His presence. There were times when we doubted in His promises. There were even times when were angry at Him. Even so, deep inside our hearts we heard a still small voice that told us we should trust Him. Looking back, we can see His loving care throughout the entire experience. In my heart, I believe in the truth of His Word, even when my circumstances seem to be in contradiction. God is not a liar – He will fulfill His promises and keep His Word, even when we can’t see so in the natural realm.
The support that we received from others was tremendous. Though we felt alone and that nobody could relate to what we were going through, we were loved upon by family, friends, co-workers and strangers. Very few tried to offer explanations. Most were reassuring in their words and acts of kindness. When we did want to talk, we found that most were willing to listen. Many were the hands and feet of Jesus.
We also were helped through reading books and blogs written by other parents who have experienced the death of a child. Although our shared circumstances are undesired, the bond that is formed between grieving parents is unique and runs very deep.
I choose to contradict the saying that “time heals all wounds”. I don’t believe that time in of itself heals wounds – only God can truly heal a wound deep in the soul. However, having time and even space to grieve was very important for us. I was blessed by my employer to be allowed off work for an extended period of time. This time allowed us to grieve together as a family. We were able to process our emotions and talk through our thoughts. We had time to read God’s Word and the other books listed here. I had time to write about our journey, which also allowed me to process my thoughts and emotions. When the time felt right, I was able to return to work feeling refreshed and prepared. I am not saying that I was over my grief (I am still not “over” it nor expect to ever be). However, I had healed enough to be able to take that next step.
So now, what is the next step for us?
Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. (2Co 1:3-4)
There are many in our local area who are in need of comfort. As we take the next step on our journey, we hope to comfort others with the same comfort that we have received. Lord, please equip us to be Your hands and feet.