Weeping with those who weep...

Pardon the cliche', but it truly is every parent's worst nightmare...the loss of a child. We were driven to prayer this weekend for some friends of ours when we learned of the death of their 20mth old son in a drowning incident. Being parents, you feel their pain, but having never lost a child, I can't pretend to imagine what it's really like - I know of others , however, that do.

It sometimes seems fruitless to try to offer comfort to a parent who has lost a child, when you can't fully empathize with them...you've just never been there. It seems overly pious when you offer the counsel of Job, "The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." Could I respond like Job? No. I couldn't. Apart from God's grace, I could not. And so there in lies my hope, if in His providence, I am to face such a tragedy. God's grace will be what gets me - or anyone - through such a loss. It's been done before.

Over the past year or so, I'll occasionally pick up this paperback book - still not knowing where I got it - and read a chapter or a few pages. Call it superstition I guess (i.e., lack of faith & trust in God's sovereignty), but sometimes I fear reading it all, wondering if I will ever need it's great counsel.

The book is titled, From Grief to Glory, Spiritual Journeys of Mourning Parents. Each page brings me to tears, as the author weaves his own experience of losing his infant son, with the stories of great men & women of the faith who have gone before us - Luther, Calvin, the Wesley's, Spurgeon, and others. Quoting old hymns, letters and sermons written long ago to help comfort grieving parents, this book is a rare jewel.

Consider this quote from the book - an excerpt from a letter written by Dr. Robert L. Dabney, to his brother, after the death of two of his young sons in the mid 1800's:

As I stand by the little grave, and think of the poor ruined clay within, that was a few days ago so beautiful, my heart bleeds. But as I ask, "Where is the soul whose beams gave that clay all its beauty and preciousness?" I triumph. Has it not already begun, with an infant voice, the praises of my Savior? Perhaps one of the loving angels that bore home his spirit has been teaching and training him to heavenly manhood. Perhaps he has been committed to our sainted father, or to my wife's sainted grandmother, as one of their redeemed posterity, to keep and train till we can embrace him again. At any rate, he is in Christ's heavenly house and under His guardian love. Now I feel, as never before, the blessedness of the redeeming grace and divine blood, which have ransomed my poor babe from all the sin and death which he inherited through me.

I was also introduced to a great hymn through this book, Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right:

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
His holy will abideth;
I will be still whate’er He doth;
And follow where He guideth;
He is my God; though dark my road,
He holds me that I shall not fall:
Wherefore to Him I leave it all.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
He never will deceive me;
He leads me by the proper path:
I know He will not leave me.
I take, content, what He hath sent;
His hand can turn my griefs away,
And patiently I wait His day.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
His loving thought attends me;
No poison can be in the cup
That my Physician sends me.
My God is true; each morn anew
I’ll trust His grace unending,
My life to Him commending.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
He is my Friend and Father;
He suffers naught to do me harm,
Though many storms may gather,
Now I may know both joy and woe,
Some day I shall see clearly
That He hath loved me dearly.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
Though now this cup, in drinking,
May bitter seem to my faint heart,
I take it, all unshrinking.
My God is true; each morn anew
Sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
And pain and sorrow shall depart.

Whate’er my God ordains is right:
Here shall my stand be taken;
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine,
Yet I am not forsaken.
My Father’s care is round me there;
He holds me that I shall not fall:
And so to Him I leave it all.

There is a website for the book here, as well as some original songs written on this subject.

Also, if you think about it, I'm sure Mike & Amy Vaughn will appreciate your prayers during this time.

Now, go hug your children.


tnfpb said...

Thanks for sharing your heart (and the book) on this topic. You are right in saying that apart from God's grace, handling (if that is actually what parents do) the loss is impossible. My heart and prayers go out to your friends!

Phoebe said...

I can't even imagine. Thanks for posting the resource, Mark and I ordered it this morning.

Udarnik said...

Oh, my.