You may have read that headline and thought, “Poor Greg has become delusional! Doesn’t he realize that Friday, July 24, 2009, is the anniversary of his son Christopher’s death?”
Yes, I am more aware of that than you will ever know. I think about it every day, every hour, sometimes every few minutes. It never escapes me nor does the painful grief that accompanies it.
Grief is like a blanket that covers everything in your life when a loved one has died. Nothing is the same, everything is different.
I have plumbed the depths of the pain of sorrow, and have doubled over in pain from the power and reality of it more times then I can count.
So, as you can see, I am very aware that my son is gone. I am also aware that his body is in a grave.
However . . .
The Lord is there
Having said all of this, I must also testify to the grace of God in such circumstances.
When Paul complained of his “thorn in the flesh,” which was some kind of physical malady aggravated by the devil, God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you.” In effect, Jesus was saying, “Paul, you have me. I am there with you” (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
And the Lord has been there for me as well. He has also been here for our family, bringing His peace and calm in the midst of this deep valley we have been walking through. As David said, “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me” (Psalm 23:4 AMPLIFIED).
We are not alone, as I have heard from so very many who have also lost loved ones, including children, since Christopher’s passing. More importantly, the Lord Himself has been there with us each step of the way.
When a loved one dies, especially your child, it is absolutely devastating. They were such a vital part of your life. You depended on them, and they on you. So when they are suddenly gone, it’s like part of you is gone as well.
The fact is, I would trade places with Christopher without hesitation and leave him here on this earth to love his wife, mom, brother, and, of course, his beloved daughters.
That choice has not been given to me. But another choice has—the choice of how I am going to react to this.
Will I merely react emotionally to it, and live permanently under the cloud of grief, pain, and sometimes even despair? Or will I listen to what the Bible says about this and perhaps gain a new perspective?
Though I have spent plenty of time with the former, I work at living by the latter.
My son is alive
How could that be? Let me state it another way . . . my son is alive in another place.
It’s not that he merely “was,” but he is! He is more alive than he has ever been, in the presence of Jesus Christ in heaven.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26 NKJV).
Jesus then said “Do you believe this?” Not everyone does, of course.
Did you know that this statement was made in front of a tomb? You can have no harsher reality than that. Nothing could be more real than the death of Lazarus.
Jesus was saying Lazarus was alive, not just because he would be raised from the dead momentarily, but because death for the believer is not the end. It is just a change of residence.
He is the God of the living
One day, a group of religious leaders, called the Sadducees, came to Jesus with a trick question.
The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. In other words, they did not believe in life beyond the grave.
Maybe that’s where they got the name Sadducee. They were “Sad, you see?”
They challenged the idea of the dead living and Jesus responded:
But now, as to whether there will be a resurrection of the dead—haven’t you ever read about this in the Scriptures? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” So he is the God of the living, not the dead. (Matthew 22:31-32 NLT)
When someone dies, we often speak of them in the past tense—“Christopher was my son”—and that is true. But when someone is still alive, you speak of them in the present-tense—“Christopher is my son.”
God said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” not “I was God of Abraham, etc.” That is because when Jesus said that, He knew that these great patriarchs were still alive, not on Earth but in heaven.
Therefore, we can and should speak of our loved ones who have gone to heaven in the present tense, because they are very much alive.
No, I cannot speak to my son right now, nor can he speak to me, but I will soon enough. I cannot hug him or tell him I love him or remind him to do something like I could when he walked with us here in life on earth.
But one day I will see him again. I don’t just feel it. I know it.
Christopher David Laurie is my son, and he is alive.
And so are your loved ones who put their faith in Christ and have gone before you. You have God’s word on it.