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When a Child Dies #14 . . . Hope

2012 February 28
by Mike

In this final post in this series, I want to recognize what Paul told the believers in Thessalonica: we don’t grieve like those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Note: that does not mean we don’t grieve. But our grief recognizes that in the resurrection of Jesus, something big, something cosmic, something gospeled has taken place. God has begun to set things right in his “new creation.” And everything—all of creation!—is now groaning, waiting, longing, and hoping as it anticipates God’s future (a future that we already can taste).

It’s toward that future, that I share this story—again, used by permission— from Megan’s Secrets:

When Megan was just five, she was playing in our fenced-in backyard. I was supposed to be keeping a close eye on her; but of course Diane and I defined “close” very differently.

I looked out after a few minutes to see Megan’s face down by the dog’s food dish. She was picking up the dog food and eating it. I ran outside and said, “Megan!”

She knew she was toast. Limited comprehension or not, she knew that eating the dog’s food was a no-no. I walked toward her, having no idea yet what to do. Just as I reached her, she puckered her lips for a kiss.

What a picture: a little girl with her glasses on, crumbs on her face, and dog breath, puckered up for a kiss. I’m so glad I didn’t let that invitation pass. It was a kiss only a parent could enjoy.

I now await that next kiss. I eagerly await God’s final work of new creation. A time to set things right. A time to wipe away all tears.

And a time to be reunited with Megan, my daughter and my teacher.

15 Responses leave one →
  1. Rick Ross permalink
    February 28, 2012

    Beautiful, Mike! Lord, come quickly.

  2. February 28, 2012

    Mike, this whole series has been really, really great. It’s been extremely helpful on a practical, pastoral level. It feels like there is no way to ever know fully the most appropriate way to enter into someone’s grief and just stand with them. But you have opened up a window into what is happening inside a person going through this (and the comments on here too!). Thanks for doing this brother, I appreciate you a lot!

  3. February 28, 2012

    Thanks so much, Rick, for your wise words throughout this series (in comments and in one of the posts).

    And thanks, Jonathan, for helping get word out through social media. That means a lot from my . . . preacher. I know, I know. When was the last time you saw me there on a Sunday morning? I’m the opposite of a normal member: I’m never there on Sunday and always there (if in town) on Wednesday. But carry on, my friend!

  4. Susan Pryor Hodges permalink
    February 28, 2012

    Neale Pryor read those verses at Dad’s (dr. Joe) graveside service 5 years ago. “hope” jumped out at me that day and i latched on to it. Found Christmas tree ornaments ” hope” and hung on the tree and gave away as gifts… Carry a photo of Dad in his casket at I Thess. 4 passage in my Bible. It is that very word, hope, that separates us from many in the world and that is the very thing they long for! Share the wealth my friends! Everyone is searching for Hope… And we have it in Christ! I will see my dad again, whole and new! And your Megan too:)
    Thanks for sharing your personal treasures with the world. Megan was a precious treasure! Mom loved having her in her class and loved her sweet hugs!

  5. February 28, 2012

    Absolutely wonderful! How I long for that day!

  6. Cary permalink
    February 28, 2012

    Hi Mike, thank you for this wonderful series. For the purposes of sharing just this series from your blog, I think it would be helpful to have a direct link at the bottom of each post to the next post in the series so that people can easily read them one after another. Thank you so much for sharing your heart in this way.

  7. February 28, 2012

    +1, Cary. Maybe even show the series in the right sidebar, like Mike’s ol’ buddy Richard.


  8. Randy permalink
    February 28, 2012

    This very day I welcome an old friend into this club. My friend, you are descending down into this life’s darkest valley. Over the following days and years you will experience many of the things described in this series – yes, pain and despair, but also a clarity that comes from the valley. Trust in the Lord. Allow Him to lay you down in the green pastures of the valley. Sit there with Him beside the quiet waters as He refreshes your soul. If you will allow Him to, He will guide you along a rich path. He will comfort you. From the valley you will see things you would have never seen on the mountain. And please know you are not alone. We will help you stand and point you to what we too have found – a clear view of a land that awaits where there is no morning or crying or pain. Indeed, Lord come quickly.

  9. Kathy S permalink
    February 29, 2012

    Thank you for this series, Mike. And for your reminder of the loving shalom of God that is breaking through and saving the world. As the song says, “everything sad is coming untrue in the hands of the One who makes all things new.”

  10. Eddy permalink
    February 29, 2012

    “Down in the human heart crushed by the tempter, feelings lie buried that grace can restore.” Thank you for this series that has allowed a little more feeling to be graciously restored.

  11. Pam permalink
    March 2, 2012

    Mike thank you for sharing so much, and helping some of us to realize it is okay to include our sweet angel children in conversations, and to keep them in our hearts and lives however we want or need to. Our lives changed drastically when we lost Neal, and it was a couple of years before I personally realized it is okay to go forward in this foreign life. It did not mean we were leaving Neal behind. He is always there.
    Thanks for the heart process this writing of yours took us through. God is so good to put memories in front of us each day, most of which make us laugh!

  12. John permalink
    March 2, 2012

    So much resonates with my own experiences, including being in the “club”, which I entered when I lost my 20 year old son almost six years ago. I now live my life with an *. “How are you?” “I’m fine *”. I live with the fear of him being forgotten, and the occasional misplaced guilt when I realize I have not consciously thought of him for a period of time. I worry about his friends and my parents and others who loved him, even as they worry about me. I have tried to help them through this because he would want them to be OK, and it is therapeutic for me. I was blessed with many supportive friends and family at the time, and don’t really recall inept attempts at comforting. I remember who showed up. I also get things about grief that I did not before joining the club, including the incredible loneliness of it even when surrounded by others who want to help. Time and life both go on but the hurt stays, even if less acute. For me, though, the hurt is a function of the memory, and I need the latter enough to tolerate the former.

    Thank you for summarizing your own experiences as well as that of others. The different perspectives exhibit a common thread that I think affirm our humanity, even if the particulars are as unique as or children were. This series is about the best resource I have come across for those going through the journey or those who are walking beside them. That includes the many wonderful and insightful comments following each article. Please consider wrapping it up in a more formal and sustainable package for future use.


  13. RuthAnn Cain permalink
    March 3, 2012

    Thank you for sharing words of hope and encouragement with those of us in
    the “club” of loss and grief. Blessings and hope to all who walk this path.


  14. Stephanie Vincent permalink
    March 4, 2012

    On July 29, 2011 I gave birth to an absolutely stunning baby boy. On February 23, 2012, we lost our beloved angel Gabriel unexpectedly. I am overwhelmed with all of the emotions, but I can only cling to two beliefs: First, that Gabriel awaits our reunion in the arms of his beloved grandparents in paradise, his face shining and smiling in the presence of God; and secondly, that this tribulation is NOT a personal persecution of us by God. This horrible thing happens daily to many people, and it is tragic, but one may as well ask “why NOT me?” instead of “Why me?” I have that much peace of mind, thank you, God. My personal struggle is not with the whys, it is the overwhelming loneliness….missing the early morning bottles, the playtime on the living room floor, the cuddling of his tiny body when he was cranky, the nightly baths… I do not know how to overcome the recurring realization that I do not have my precious baby to tend to here. I cry for ME, not for him. And I worry that I need to rein in my emotion so that I do not scare his 3 year old brother. After all, he still needs his mommy to comfort him because he lost his baby brother, too.
    I feel lost, overwhelmed…All I can pray for right now is strength to help me through, and that He protect the people I love from ever having to endure this agony. I feel as if my heart has been cheese-grated, and my insides put through a meat grinder, and it seems so bleak, because I will NEVER ‘get over’ my baby’s loss. There is no definitive end in sight. And although I was raised better, I now feel such rage when I see people who do not take care of their children, yet are blessed anyway. It seems so unfair, and while I say nothing outside, inside I am pulling my hair and shreiking with fury. The guilt this anger engenders, along with the guilt of feeling responsible that I didn’t find my baby soon enough to save him, is rendering me helpless.
    Does it ever ease?

  15. Jean Cook permalink
    March 6, 2012

    Thank you so much for this series. Our daughter Lydia would have celebrated her 10th birthday on February 22, 2012. Your blog posts have helped me give voice to what I’ve felt and continue to feel. Perhaps even more important, it’s helped me understand what I’m not feeling at any given moment. We were with you that horrible day at the hospital when “our kids” had that terrible accident. That day was when I began to see a glimpse of what the children who lose siblings or people very close to them experience.
    Even 8 1/2 years after we lost his sister, my 16 son snuggled up to me and with teary eyes said “I would have been a good big brother.”
    I’ll have to admit, post #14 on HOPE is one I had to read very early on. In the end, I found it to be the most important post. Without that Hope, there’s no way we can make it through all the other stuff.

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