Child loss is Unnatural-no way around it.
Out of order death is devastating.
When my perfectly healthy, strong and gifted son was killed instantly in a motorcycle accident on April 12. 2014 my world fell apart. My heart shattered into a million pieces. And after three and a half years, I’ve yet to even FIND all of those pieces much less put them back together.
So what does a heart do when that happens? Because, try as I might, I cannot stop time.
Even THAT awful day only lasted 24 hours.
When the sun rose again, the pain was still there. And behind that pain and mixed with it was something else-disappointment, disaffection, distrust.
Where were You, God???
God is sovereign-He rules.
God is good-He loves.
How do those two truths live together in a universe that includes child loss? How can I trust the rest of my life and my eternal future to a God who lets this happen?
It’s a process. And it takes time. It involves purposeful choices by me to place my heart where it can hear truth even when it doesn’t want to hear and doubts every word.
The first step toward trusting again is to ADMIT THE PAIN.
You may be thinking, “Are you crazy?”.
“Of course I know I’m hurting-my child is no longer here!”
But that’s the easy pain to recognize and own up to. For those of us who have swallowed the western church model of “Sunshine Christianity”*, we will have a much harder time admitting our dismay that as victors in Jesus we feel discouraged, defeated and disgusted.
And should we dare to whisper it aloud we may well be shouted down by voices afraid to hear what they themselves sometimes secretly think but never speak. So we convince our hearts these are phantom pains like those of a lost limb and try to ignore them.
But they will not be ignored.
The Bible is full of broken people bringing their hearts and their hurts to God.
- He doesn’t despise my pain.
- He doesn’t turn away from my tears.
- He doesn’t hurry me through hearbreak.
Death is awful! We dare not make it small!
It was the penalty for sin and the price of salvation. To deny the presence of pain is to diminish the power of the cross.
I must admit my pain:
- Own it.
- Feel it.
- Name it.
- Speak it.
I’m not the first nor will I be the last to wonder about where God is and what He is doing. Nicolas Wolterstorff’s adult son was killed in a climbing accident and his little book, Lament for a Son, was one of the best I have read in grief.
It struck a chord with me both because of the similarity of our loss and his honesty in exploring the edges of pain and doubt.
Will my eyes adjust to this darkness? Will I find you in the dark-not in the streaks of light which remain, but in the darkness? Has anyone ever found you there? Did they love what they saw? Did they see love? And are there songs for singing when the light has gone dim? Or in the dark, is it best to wait in silence?
Noon has darkened. As fast as they could say, “He’s dead”, the light dimmed. And where are you in the darkness? I learned to spy you in the light. Here in this darkness, I cannot find you. If I had never looked for you, or looked but never found, I would not feel this pain of your absence. Or is it not your absence in which I dwell, but your elusive troubling presence?
Nicholas Wolterstorff, LAMENT FOR A SON
C.S. Lewis wrote A Grief Observed after the loss of his wife, Joy. And he also is honest and raw-asking aloud the questions that hide in our hearts, admitting the fear that the God we serve may not be the God we thought we knew.
Giants in faith-both men.
Yet they, like us, had to bring the shattered pieces of their broken hearts to the foot of the cross and beg God to put them back together.
Admit the pain.
God already knows.
*Sunshine Christianity is the notion that once one belongs to Jesus the road is smooth (God can make a way), the path clear of obstacles (if you have enough faith), and if I simply claim the promises of Scripture I have victory over every circumstance. It does not square with either Jesus’ own experience nor that of the 12 apostles.