In the early months of grieving for our son, sorrow, longing and anguish felt like a connection to him. They were a sort of conduit, a frantic grasping for nearness. To remember him was to be with him. All conscious thought was focused on getting to him – right now. To weep was to hold him close. My baby.
This heavy sorrow is what I feel. It is not a reflection of what I, as a Christian, believe. I know where our son is and I believe what God has told me about our eternal home. Why then do I sorrow?
It is because each crashing wave of grief is my flesh crying out for the son who has been taken from me. It is my soul missing his soul. My flesh missing his flesh. It is in my nature to protect and care for my child and I cannot. This powerlessness assaults a significant portion of the essence of who I am – my motherness.
I feel I cannot help grieving. That I cannot stop longing to see him again. That I cannot stop sorrowing.
That Sorrow just is.
As natural, necessary and unavoidable as these emotions are, they are not grounded in faith, but in the flesh. Grieving excessively is not helpful. Sorrow cannot bring me nearer to Hans in fact. Grieving is hard, healthy, exhausting work that can become counterproductive if indulged in too deeply for too long.
There comes a time when sorrow and anguish are not enough anymore. It’s not that sorrow wears off, or grieving gets easier. It’s just that you come to an awareness that sorrow is not getting you anywhere.
Slowly, you realize your tears will not bring your child back. The churning rawness begins to level off, not because the pain is less, but because you become too worn out to cry. Your sorrow gets quieter, burrows deeper, becomes part of you rather than something you do battle with. Whereas, once you thought your heart would explode with pain, you now feel it threatening to implode, to collapse under the stealthy grip of chronic sadness.
But, then, little by little, by very little, you gain the ability to smile occasionally while remembering. Instead of seeing empty spaces everywhere, spaces where your child should be, you begin to see God’s hand. The frantic grasping begins to subside as you look up in wonder, knowing your child is up there.
You learn the Lord has provided a better connection to your departed child than sorrow and grief, based on the facts as they are – not life as it was.
He has provided Himself.
The fact is Hans is not here with me in my present. He is with the Lord. This is not a quaint Christian euphemism for “dead.” Hans really is with the Lord. We have his broken body here with us, buried in a sweet and sunny patch of ground. And yes, he is part of our past, but only in memory and in the evidence that he left behind of his life.
But, Hans, the real and living Hans, is presently with the Lord Jesus.
It is true that the day on which I last saw my son is moving farther and farther away from me in time. It feels like we are leaving him behind. But to think like this all the time is to look in the wrong direction. If I turn around, I see that I am moving forward toward the day when we will be together again. The grasping for the past must be replaced by joyful anticipation of the future. The time between now and then is getting shorter every minute. Hans is in my future. For us, the earthbound ones, that is where our departed, believing children are.
And every day that passes is another day closer to seeing them again.
This is not pie in the sky. This is not my “belief” or my “religion”. This is for real. These are facts based on God’s sure word, the Bible, which was written by men inspired by the One Who is known as The Word, Faithful and True, Redeemer, the God of All Comfort.
Our Hans is in Heaven in the actual presence of the Lord God Almighty. And this same Lord of the Universe, God the Holy Spirit, lives within me. God is near, everywhere I go, as I walk with Him. Therefore, are not Hans and I together in the Lord? Staying close to the Lord, keeping my mind on heavenly, eternal things, abiding in Him, keeps me close to Jesus. And somehow, this keeps me near to Hans as well. Nearer in fact than Hans could ever be even if he were sitting here next to me.
For sons grow up. They move away. They transfer their primary devotion to their own growing families. They may make good decisions or poor ones. They can become ensnared or apathetic or just busy. They can grow distant while living in the same city.
But Hans is safe from all that. No one can hurt him. He cannot hurt or deceive himself. He no longer sins. In fact, sin can’t touch him at all. He is perfectly pure and holy in a way I cannot be while bound in my flesh.
But, God desires us to pursue holiness anyway and He, by His grace, will enable us as we seek to do His will and walk in the light of His love.
Holiness is a stronger connection to my son than sorrow.
And that is a fact.