A Child dies. Another mother grieves. A parent feels guilt unimaginable. Dad can’t talk or feel anything anymore and mom is angry with God. …and my heart feels their pain as I cringe listening to their words. I know that God didn’t abandon them. I know He hurts with them. I know He didn’t do this, but how do I let them know? Death feels so permanent here on this earth. The pain in your heart permeates through your entire body. It makes your muscles sore. It pulls at your stomach. Guilt and loss will keep a tight grip on your mind. Heartache is consuming. It’s real and it hurts.
Easter Sunday was on my Astyn’s birthday this year just like it was on her last year on this earth. Four weeks later, also on a Sunday, my Easter baby flew to Heaven…and left me here. It’s a loss we can’t imagine in our worst nightmares. A hug shared between moms who have lost their children is sacred. As I think of losing her every part of my body feels it – even 22 years later. And I remember talking to God. I wanted to fall into His arms and find some relief from the pain. I wanted to see where she was and know she was ok. But mostly I wanted to ask Him, “What happened?” And so, I did. ‘Where were you, Father?’ ‘I trusted You with her. I asked for you to keep her safe and then I counted it as Done.’
Guilt overcame me in so many forms. Did I miss something? Did my Father try to show me that I needed to protect her and I missed the signs? Why didn’t I go in the basement and watch that old movie with her? I didn’t know there wouldn’t be a ‘later.’ I chose my junior and senior’s ballgames over hers when they coincided because I thought I had many more of hers to watch. I shouldn’t have taken that for granted. And the enemy jumped in with ‘remember this and remember that…’ I hate him – satan is the father of lies and he loves to find us vulnerable.
Maybe you have felt the same. But let me tell you why, even though Easter is a difficult day for me, Easter is the most wonderful day for me. It’s the day that God said, ‘Here I am! I didn’t leave you! I want you to see her again!’ It’s the day it all made sense to the disciples and Mary. It’s the day that Jesus conquered death and pain and guilt and heartache. It’s the day that God became part of our soul. The day of one’s earthly death is holy.
Lazarus had died. He was buried in a tomb. His sisters, Martha and Mary, were grieving. After four days the Jews believed that he was truly gone, that his soul had left his body. And they asked their friend and teacher, “Where were you, Jesus? You could have saved him.” Jesus wept. He was a man of great emotion and love. And then He did what no one expected. He called the dead to life. He showed everyone what the glory of God looks like. “Lazarus, come out!” Lazarus rose alive and well. He took off his grave clothes and put on something new. Not everyone believed. Not everyone was happy. But many marveled and believed. Lazarus, Martha, and Mary were forever changed.
This life is human. We are not perfect. We’ve let sin that leads to death into our world. God could have abandoned us, but He didn’t. He sent His Son down to us. He gives new life. He’ll put new life into an old, tattered heart. He’ll raise your spirit from the ashes of despair. When my Astyn died, Father didn’t abandon or forget. He was the first one there. He held me in His arms and felt my pain. But the true comfort comes from knowing His words. ‘Astyn, come on up! Take off those grave clothes. I’ve got new and beautiful garments for you. I have loved you with an everlasting love. Death will never touch you again. We will never be separated. I have seen to that!’ The smile on both their faces brings me incomparable joy. He tells us there are no tears in Heaven. But I have to wonder how I will behold them both without crying. I don’t know, but I DO KNOW I will behold them both! Hallelujah!