I have been a believer in Jesus Christ for as long as I can remember. I loved Him as a small child, grew in my knowledge of Him throughout my childhood, understood Him as my savior in my late teens, and have walked with my heart and mind toward Him most of the time all of my life. I love Him. And, I’m thankful for the faith He has given me so I can believe in Him, love Him and learn to know Him.
But this treacherous road of grieving the loss of a child has caused me more pit-falls, stumbling blocks, deep valleys and times of doubt than I have ever experienced, or thought possible. Faith – this faith I have had my whole life – seems all well and good until it is put into the fire. When it is put into the fire, then we see what it is truly made of. No one knows what fiery furnace they will face in life until they are thrown into it. And, what a fiery furnace losing a child is.
Of course, the phrase “fiery furnace” makes me immediately think of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. But, I don’t just think of the actual fiery furnace when I think of those three heroes of the Old Testament; I think of bravery, courage and faith; and I think of the fourth man in the fiery furnace with them……”the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” I think of faith – amazing, unwavering, rock-solid faith. The kind of faith I thought I had before my son was killed in a car accident. The kind of faith that says, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him”. I thought I had that kind of faith. I have said those very words – “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him”. And, I believed I meant them. I’m not sure I was ever actually saying them to the Lord; I don’t think I’ve ever been arrogant or foolish enough to think I could stand before God in my heart and say, “though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him”. But, I believed I could. Maybe if there were a verse in the Bible that said, “though He slay my child, yet will I hope in Him”, my foolish, arrogant heart would be less likely to stand before God and say, “I think I have the faith of Job”. I believe the Lord wants us all to have the faith of Job. He wants us to be faithful to Him no matter what we encounter in this life, up to and including losing everything we hold dear to our hearts. But…………MY CHILD? Could He possibly mean my child?
Did He mean Abraham’s son, Isaac, when He told Abraham to sacrifice “your only son Isaac, whom you love”?
Did God really mean to say to Satan, in the book of Job, “Have you considered My servant Job?”
Did God mean to send Jesus, His only begotten Son, to the earth with the specific purpose of dying for the sins of all mankind?
Our daughter attended our local high school her junior and senior years (we homeschooled her the first 10 years of her education), and got involved with a trouble-maker of a friend. Consequently, we found ourselves one day in a courtroom before a judge because of the influence said friend had over our daughter. Recently, I have remembered the very meaningful words that wise and compassionate judge said to me regarding our daughter’s behavior – “Your daughter seems to have lost her center, but has begun to return to her center”. He then went on to encourage me to continue to help her turn back to the way she was raised and “find her center” again. Those words have come back to me in this, the most difficult time in my life, because they ring true for me now. Losing my son has made me feel at times like I lost my center. In fact, most of the time I feel like my insides have been shattered into millions of tiny pieces, and all I am left with is brokenness, and I don’t know how to put the pieces back together.
A grief counselor we visited with a few short weeks after our son passed away told us that he often sees grieving parents wrap their arms around themselves trying to “hold themselves together”. I can relate. My husband and I have always been a very affectionate couple, but since our son’s passing, we hug way more often. I feel, at times, like I will fly apart if he doesn’t put his arms around me and hold me together. It has felt like my “center” has been lost; like I’ve completely lost my equilibrium.
Recently, though, I have begun to remember again……….the Lord. My Lord. The Lord is my center. I’ve never actually lost my center, because I can’t. Jesus is my center. My insides may feel like they have been shattered into a million pieces. But during this most awful broken time in my life, Jesus was never shattered, never broken, never lost. He has been here, as my center, all along this journey of grief – through the loss, the anger, the brokenness, the confusion, the guilt, the blaming, the doubt, the unbelief, the questioning – all of it. He remains, and He remains faithful.
“Had it not been for the Lord who was on our side – let Israel say – Had it not been for the Lord who was on our side….the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us, the raging waters would have swept us away.” From Ps. 124
“Unless the Lord had given me help, I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.” Ps. 94:17
“…….our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O King. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18
“…for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.'” Hebrews 13:5
“….and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
There is a “fourth man” in this fiery furnace with me. His name is Jesus.