In my experience there’s not much in this life more difficult to accept than losing a child through death or realizing that your child will not live the life you envisioned for them, due to a certain diagnosis. Both these situations cause parents to grieve. My husband Jim and I have experienced the grieving process in both of these scenarios.
We lost our little boy, Adam, years ago. Our perfectly healthy, vibrant, ray of sunshine succumbed to a common childhood illness. Our world as we knew it was completely devastated. Every hope and dream we had for him since the moment we knew we were expecting, was lost. And honestly, that’s how we felt. Devastated and lost. Who were we now? Were we still parents? Since Adam was our only child at the time, we weren’t really sure. Our identity was lost … or so we thought. We didn’t know what to do or say, as friends began to avoid us. We didn’t understand that because they were afraid to say the wrong thing, they said nothing at all, and they made themselves scarce.
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14,18
Thankfully, since we are Christians, our identity and faith is found in Christ Jesus. This faith produced hope. There was hope that one day we would be reunited with our precious little boy. Through worship, prayer, and time studying the Word, we began to heal. We were blessed to discover a support group for parents just like us. The group met in a local church, and through the group God showed us we were not alone in our journey. Some old friends and new friends began to walk alongside us. Even so, life was hard, but we have never lost our hope.
Though no one could ever replace Adam’s life, we went on to have three more children who filled our lives with much love, joy and laughter.
And, then it happened. One of our children was given the diagnosis of a learning disability.
Once again, we experienced grief and hope. We grieved over how difficult life might be for this child to learn differently than other children. What would school life look like? Would there be bullying? Would there be a high school graduation day? College? We just didn’t know. And I was hurt. … and sad … and angry. But I was also GRATEFUL! As difficult as the future looked, I was willing to face it, because I was so very grateful that this dearly loved, sweet child of mine was ALIVE. We had hope for the future.
“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? …Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 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 height 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: 31, 35-39
Through all these things, the losses and struggles, I am reminded nothing can separate us from the love of God. I am also reminded of the gift of these two children, and how their lives have impacted us and those around us. After Adam’s death, God called me to serve preschoolers and their families through various ministry opportunities. You could say that I’ve become a “spiritual mother” to hundreds of children throughout the years. If this is true, surely this means by now, I have many, many “spiritual” children and grandchildren! The grief of having loved and lost drew me closer to Jesus Christ and increased my hope and joy in salvation. Struggling through the challenging process of helping a differently abled child reach their full potential, strengthened my faith and drew me closer to Jesus. These things encouraged me to love others, just as they are, right where they are. That love drove me to share the gospel with those around me. That’s how our great God works. In both situations grief and faith resulted in hope and love. In turn, our situations resulted in a calling that has impacted others!
So let me ask you …
Have the challenges in life devastated you and left you feeling lost, and wondering who you are?
No worries my friend, there is life after loss. And there is great hope in salvation through Jesus Christ.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21