We are spending 4th of July at the farm. It is incredibly bittersweet. My heart aches badly, and both Tim and I cried ourselves to sleep last night. Just two years ago, I watched as Matt sat at a table in the Courtenay Hall playing Bingo. Our family was so excited because he only had one spot left to cover for the “blackout” game and win $1,000. We all wanted him to win. (He didn't.)
We played Bingo again last night. I can't tell you how many thoughts went through my head as I sat there. And while I experienced joy in watching the kids play Bingo, the sorrow in my heart simmered thick and heavy. There is so much of grief that requires self-control, self-control of one's thoughts. So much strength to exercise in not letting your thoughts go to “What if” and “If only.” We didn't come last year because it was just too painful. (It's still painful, but in a different way.) The kids had fun last night, but I left exhausted.
Lying in bed, I found myself getting angry at God, asking Him, “Why? Why couldn't I have that 4th of July family picture from 2011?” “Why couldn't there be just ONE good picture of Matt from that weekend? God you knew he was going to be gone just 25 days later. Why wouldn't You give me that?” “Is that really asking too much, Lord?” I lay there thinking, questioning, wondering. I thought of Moses and how, because of just one act of disobedience and unbelief, he was denied entrance to the promised land. (Num. 20) It didn't seem fair. And my son's death, my firstborn, at the age of 16 doesn't seem fair.
Yet I know enough of God's Word to know that He is just, and I've learned that there's a difference between fair and just. Fairness is about being equal. Being just is about doing what is right. Knowing the difference helps me to see that God is not “picking” on me or my family. It's important for me to remember this because I need to know that the character of God, in whom I am putting all my trust, my faith, and my life, is good. I need to know that this hurt, this pain, this loss, is filtered through a Sovereign Being whose main motivation is love. I don't profess to understand to how He works. I just know that He purposes good and not evil for His children.
The loss of my son has, unquestionably, caused a change in my faith. I have questioned deeply what I believe, why I believe, and who I believe. As I said, I don't, by any means, profess to know how God works, but I've come to the conclusion that not all things need to be understood in order to be trusted. It's similar to the argument I've heard about the wind and how one can know that God is real. One can't see the wind, yet one can see the effects of the wind. A person can rightly conclude that the wind is real, though they can't see it. Likewise, one cannot see God, but one can know that He is. One also doesn't have to understand God in order to trust Him. However, it is of critical importance to know God's character. And how does one know His character? How can one trust someone they don't know? Only by getting to know them. And the way to know God is through His Word.
When God doesn't give you what you want what do you do? You either believe God or you don't. You choose to be bitter and angry at the Giver, or you choose to trust that His motive in the “No” is pure, holy, and just. You either have great faith or little faith. You either allow the trials and storms to uproot you, or you allow them to be the catalyst that propels your faith to take deeper root. Like it or not, God uses the sorrows in this earthly life to change us for the better and to draw us closer to Him.
Though losing a child makes no sense, I know that the principle of growth God gives in His creation holds true in loss. The strongest trees are those that have weathered the storms and developed deep, deep roots. Our nature is to take the easy way out, to gain the victory without running the race, to reap the reward without paying the price. We want beauty without scars. But Christ didn't take the easy way out. He was disfigured and scarred. He paid the ultimate price. He gave His life for us, for me. If God does absolutely nothing else for me in my life, His saving me is enough. God hasn't given me what I wanted. I don't have my son back. I don't have one last family photo. I don't have that last good picture of Matt. But I have faith. I have faith, hope, and love. I have a deep faith in the One and Only True God, hope in His Word and in eternity, and the love of Christ Jesus, my LORD, from which nothing can separate me.