Last night, my friends Levi and Jennie Lusko said goodbye to their little girl Lenya for the last time on earth. This sweet little one had a severe asthma attack and died in her parents’ arms.
It’s so very, very sad.
Please pray for the Lusko family as they face what I believe is a fate worse than death for a parent: the loss of a child.
This last Monday, I also saw my friend Frank Pastore, host of The Frank Pastore Show, die after having spent a month in a coma after a motorcycle accident. Please be in prayer for Frank’s wife, Gina, and his two children as well.
I understand the pain of these families; as you know, my son Christopher died four years ago. I will be at both of their memorial services and will miss them both with all of my heart.
What makes this even harder is that this happened in the Christmas season. It seems, in many ways, as a nation, we have been collectively mourning in the wake of the shootings of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
Perhaps you are personally mourning the loss of a loved one right now. When a loved one leaves this world for the next, we are torn apart inside. So we cry and mourn. A deep sense of loss and sorrow is an indication of deep love.
The apostle Paul spoke of deep sorrow over the possible loss of a friend:
“Meanwhile, I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, a
faithful worker, and a courageous soldier. . . and he was very distressed that you heard
he was ill. And he surely was ill; in fact, he almost died. But God had mercy on him—and
also on me, so that I would not have such unbearable sorrow.” Philippians 2:25
Paul is saying, “If Epaphroditus had died, I would not have been able to bear it!” That’s how you feel when someone you love dies: you can’t bear it.
So don’t impatiently say to the mourner, “Don’t cry” or “You’ll get over it!” There is a place for this process of mourning, and it must happen. The Bible says, “There is a time to mourn.” If you don’t mourn properly, you will not heal properly. I did not fully understand this principle until it happened to me.
But for the mourners out there, I would say, let’s keep a proper perspective, like the psalmist in Psalm 42:3–6:
“Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me,
saying, ‘Where is this God of yours?’ My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to
be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house
of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why
am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him
again—my Savior and my God!”
The psalmist is honest here. He speaks of how he has had “only tears for food.” I know exactly what he is talking about. But then he asks himself a question and gives himself an answer:
“Why am I discouraged? Why so sad?
I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again—my Savior and my God!”
Grief is like wiping out on a wave. When you are out surfing, and get caught in a set, and go over the falls, you lose perspective. The thing you must avoid is panic.
You have to roll with it and remember that it won’t last all that long. But sometimes, when you’re in the whitewater, you lose your perspective. You literally do not know which way is up, or how to get to the surface. This is where your leash comes in.
Your leash is attached to your board, which always goes to the surface due to its buoyancy. So, you grab your leash and follow it to the surface. The Scripture is like that leash; it gets us “above the surface,” where we can get a heavenly perspective.
Sometimes, I get my head above water and everything is clear. Everything, in a way, almost makes sense for a few moments. I will think, “The Lord is leading me in His perfect plan. I have a son on earth and another son in heaven. I will see him again.” But then the waves of pain and grief and sadness come and I go under again.
I will surface and sink again many times in one day—again, again, and again. That is mourning. But we still have hope.
The believers in Thessalonica were wondering if they would ever see their loved ones again who had died as Christians. Paul wrote these comforting words “And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died . . . Then we will be with the Lord forever” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–17).
So, yes, we as Christians mourn. We mourn deeply.
But we have the hope of seeing again our loved ones who have preceded us to heaven. It will be a wonderful heavenly reunion.
Both little Lenya and big Frank are spending their first Christmas in heaven! May God extend his comfort to their families, and all of you who are feeling deep sadness this Christmas season.
People ask me, “Is there a book that could help me at a time like this? Listen…You don’t need a manual.; you need Immanuel!
God is with you. That is the message of Christmas!