You probably are familiar with this experience: Time feels like it has passed so quickly and yet in many ways it also feels like you have lived a lifetime. Time has such a funny way of doing this, especially in the midst of grief and sorrow.
One year ago today, my wife and I lost our son. These words seem so heart-wrenching and yet at the same time seem like such a matter-of-fact way to express what happened. The whole of it still feels like a nightmare. It still feels like a bad dream that I might one day wake up from. It leaves me with waves of grief which arise from nowhere like a gulf storm. It pounds hard against my mind. Tears flow. Sorrow floods in, wanting nothing more than to see Finley taking His first steps.
But these experiences have been used by God this year in ways I could not have imagined. He has allowed me to minister out of my pain, out of my sorrow, and out of my loss. He has shown Himself to be a Good Father and Good Shepherd. He has tended my soul and allows His kindness to shine upon me. Like the warm sun of spring on my skin after a cold winter, God has warmed my souls with His Presence.
But He has taught me quite a few things as well. Things about Himself that I knew but had never experienced. Things about myself that I didn’t know I was capable of and the many ways I still need the Spirit to grow me. Yet the most surprising thing I think about almost on a weekly basis is death. Not just the death of Finley, although that is certainly thought about, but specifically what death means for the Christian.
Christians actually believe that the most important event in human history was marked by death. We believe that God sent His very Son to this earth in the form of a baby. That He lived a life perfectly obeying God’s law. And then, He was placed on a cross where He died. Death is not only important to Christians, it is required! We believe that we actually share in that death symbolically when we go under the water of baptism. We are told to put to death the things of the flesh in Scripture.
But Christians believe in more than death. We believe in life after death. We believe in resurrection. Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb. He rose three days later! He defeated death with His resurrected life! And those who believe these things are promised this same resurrected life not just here in earth but one day when time is rolled up like a scroll and we will dwell with God forever. It is in this after-life, eternal life when I will see my son again. With a glorious, new, resurrected body that is no longer torn apart and tarnished by genetic malformations. This is my hope!
But there is still more. Pete Scazerro in his book, “The Emotionally Healthy Leader writes this about death and resurrection: “death is a necessary prelude to resurrection. To bear long-term fruit for Christ, we need to recognize that some things must die so something new can grow.” Even though Scazerro is likely speaking about church ministry, this applies to everything in our lives. We must die to ourselves before we experience the resurrection of Spirit’s work in our lives. Ministries and churches must put some old policies or ideologies or visions to death before they experience a fresh, resurrected life they have never unknown to them before. For the greatest rescue plan to be executed where God saved sinners, Christ had to die before He was resurrected. Sorrow had to come before the joy.
As I write this, my wife I pregnant. It’s another boy. Genetic testing and ultrasound reveal that this child is healthy and developing as he should. Does this diminish the sorrow and grief I felt and still feel when I think about losing Finley? No. But beyond my sorrow of the death of my son is something that has been resurrected in this last year…Hope.