A few weeks ago, Dan and I were talking, as we often do, about how we are doing emotionally, since we both have a great deal of emotion we constantly deal with since the loss of our 25-year-old son almost 4 years ago. I told him that it feels like an emotional “buffer” has slipped away and I am feeling things more intensely than I have since that first year of grief. He wholeheartedly agreed and commented that he thought that was a good way to describe this new depth of emotion. We feel the loss more intensely. It’s almost as though we didn’t really believe he was gone until recently. It has felt like a tragedy occurred in our lives, but somehow, someday things would return to “normal”. They haven’t, and now we are beginning to believe they won’t. And I can’t even describe to you how that hurts. I want him back. I want my family to be 7-plus-a-few, instead of 6-plus-a-few, again. I can’t have either.
I’ve unintentionally found ways to avoid this reality for the past 3+ years, and that is beginning to be nearly impossible. I can no longer ignore or deny what has happened and what it has done to me and my family. Don’t misunderstand me, though. I can still feel a little bit of fight left in me; I don’t give up easily, even when that is what I want to do.
I’ve recently found myself reading in 2 Corinthians, though, and it has brought my mind that coveted, though often elusive, peace. It has reminded my parched heart and fragile emotions that this is not all there is – this earthly life.
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:1-10
And how could I possibly share the above passage without sharing these next 2 passages from 1 Thessalonians? Because that is where my thoughts immediately go when I think of our heavenly home.
“Now, brothers and sisters, about the times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.” 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10
And finally, the one I cling to with great longing. My husband and I have both commented to each other that we hope to be standing by our son’s grave when this day comes:
“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.
Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
His Word encourages my heart to keep on keeping on, knowing full well that we will all someday be reunited, and we will be with the Lord forever.