“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6)
Our middle son was tragically hit by a drunk driver while riding his bike on the side of the road, struck down in his youth, only 16 years old, his future suddenly gone, his life snuffed from him, and our child cruelly ripped from our family. This horrific event happened in November of 1997, in the barrenness before the Winter season arrived.
It was during this season of my life, the sudden and unexpected death of my son, I would walk the most difficult and anguished journey I would ever experience, known as Grief.
It was on my walk today during the same time of year our son was taken from us, where I reflected, noticing the varying stages of plant life; the trees having no leaves, the bushes bearing no flowers, the grass dulled, was a time in their plant cycle where their fruit lay dormant. The word hibernating came to my mind and I saw this as a season of unseen fruit, a time of barrenness.
This brought to my remembrance that time in my life in losing our son and the many days, hours and months following, where I felt lifeless, where I felt limp, where my life source felt dulled to everything except the incredible burning deep pain I carried each moment, where stepping one foot in front of the other took all my effort in overcoming this incredible inertia in this place of deep loss.
Yet, as I viewed these plants, barren of their fruit, I knew life was still coursing through their limbs, as their roots traveled deeply underneath the earth, digging into the richness of the waters that sustained them.
So was it during my time of feeling lifeless, that I knew my life source of Christ’s Spirit still resided in me, yet I could not sense Him.
In continuing my walk in the winter months while involved in service in NC area, these plants I saw, were barren of any fruit, just as I felt barren in my grief, where I lived in the dry desert of not sensing God’s Spirit life within me, where I felt like I too was in a sort of hibernating state, moving around in a dazed state of being.
It was during those dark days in missing my son, in the depth of my sorrow and loss, I felt as if I was trudging in heavily laden thick mud, the trenches where I did not sense God, where I did not see God, where I did not feel His presence, nor did I feel His hand upon my life.
I never thought I would get through some of those days, nor did I think I would see any normality returning to my life, yet the inner part of me who trusted in my Father’s Word, the part of me who knew His ability, was still there, and the known reality of His Promise, to never leave me, was infused within my soul and I knew He still existed, even though I had no visible evidence, I knew beyond a shadow of any doubt, He was still with me.
It was during those times my walk became Faith. It was during those times, I placed my confidence in the experiential knowing that all things are possible to continue moving forward by relying on this internal source of His Word, who is Christ, to breathe His resurrected life into my mortal body.
I learned to sink deeply into the reservoir of God’s embrace as my source in all my need, where I had to dig deeply into the roots of His life given waters to sustain me, to discover Him in the midst of my adversity.
It was during these barren, dry, hibernating seasons, as I walked this journey in Grief, my choice to continue in the reality of whose I had become, to walk in the promises written in His Word, and to rely on His Spirit life to enter into my brokenness, allowing Him room to be with me in my suffering, was my source of where I turned my attentions towards.
I expected this same power that rose Christ from the dead, would be the same power that would bring forth His life in this dry season of my union in Him.
In looking back at those seasons, it was in those darkest of days, in the toughest of times, in those seasons of unseen fruit, where I grew and matured the most in my faith walk.
It was during those days I thought I would never survive, that His Spirit was germinating, birthing new fruits within my inner heart, sprouting in the right time, in the right season of my life, when my faith would become the vehicle giving me a spiritual sight, granting me His ability and it would be abiding in His Strength I would be able to endure, in those driest of times.
I knew somehow, that He would bring me through those long days, months and years in my journey experiencing varying degrees of grief. I knew placing my confidence in Him to give me ability where I had none of my own was how I had to live.
This was the faith spoken of in the Scriptures where I had to walk in the unseen, the unknown, the uncertainty, the unfamiliar. These were days I fully knew in my head, He was with me, yet did not sense Him during these hibernating seasons in my experiencing such tragic and unexpected loss.
It was in those seasons of hidden fruit, I found myself having to travel paths trudging in the cold days of a long hibernating winter in my soul.
The psalmists describe some of the most heart wrenching of human emotions, and it was in the midst of those seasons of winter, in the times of intense difficulties, they too found God to be their source of all strength, their source of all fruit, and their source of the often hidden and hibernating spirit who is at work in us, even when we do not sense or feel Him.
We, like the psalmist can cry out in thankfulness to our God, who hears us, who responds to us, and who is our trusted source of all of whom we are becoming in times of dryness and in times of plenty.
We can know, it is Our Father God who remains faithful and true to us and to His character, always being the One we can run to, always being the One in whose we are, always being the One who embraces us with His forever love.
I remember this verse of a song I knew in the youth of my faith, where I sang with my spiritual family in the early season of my walk with the Lord, and I share it now, for it rings true to my heart.
“For we know whom we have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day!”
I am sure we can all reflect, in remembering those times in our lives where we experienced a barrenness in our Faith. We can all remember those times we did not feel or sense our Lord’s presence.
I am sure we can all remember those times where we did not know the way in the newness of our experiences, where our faith was walked out in the known truth written in the bible, where our Father promised to never leave us; promised to give us the Christ Spirit of Grace in which to weather all seasons.
We stood in those times in the truth of whose we were, daughters of the King of Kings; in whose love we were birthed into a new way of being; trusting He would bring us through even though we traveled in the desert of the unknown.
Although it has been many years since my son’s death, grief has a way of changing, evolving, just as the many seasons of my life have altered whom I am becoming.
Some days the waves come in crushing pangs of such deep missing that words are unable to fully express its shattered effects. Some days my breath is taken away in my remembrance of him and the space that is now left open in my heart where he used to reside, in all the moments we shared in the brief life he lived and the short time I was honored to have known him, remains unfilled.
Other days the loss feels like a distant ship passing me by and although the missing exists, the depth of anguish has lessoned as I have journeyed through experiencing varying emotions in the years of not having my middle son in my life or in our family.
All I have are memories of him now, ones I am glad to hold and cherish in those open spaces left unfilled when he was taken from this earth. No one can ever replace my child, my son, my Lucas, or the special place he held in our family.
Knowing I can continue the journey in having been his mom in this world, with the grace of Christ who entered into those spaces in my heart and His compassion placed His holy balm of healing there, forever sealing the love and bond of my motherhood with my dearest son, is of comfort.
Perhaps you are going through a season of feeling this way now of having lost someone close to you, perhaps a son or daughter, and you are feeling the pangs of grief, the sorrow of missing your dear one.
There was no greater sorrow or pain then the loss I experienced in the death of my dear son, Lucas. I have not ever passed through the intensity of such deep inner pain this way again.
I would encourage you to accept the loss, as difficult as it is, and allow whatever feelings are surfacing to rise, fully expressing them to God, or with another in whom you are near.
I have discovered in life, that in order to move forward in continuing to grow and mature as a woman, I have had to accept whatever the situation is at the moment, and then in accepting it, I must come to terms with allowing my emotions to surface, no matter how painful or irrational they may appear, so I do not become stunted in the process of finding my new normal after an extreme life altering change has come into my life, such as the death of my son.
Although this may be of little solace if you are in acute grief, I would encourage you to reach out to any group support in your area where you may join with other parents in their loss as we can gain help and encouragement from those who have had to suffer such an extreme challenge as the death of our child.
Those who have shared in experiencing this, will have a compassionate understanding in knowing what life is like in the following days, months and years.
Even if you just sit among them and listen, you can gain an incredible amount of support from those who have experienced life after the death of a child. No matter what you decide to do, never feel pressured to talk, to share, or to speak until you feel ready, until it becomes your desire to do so, until you have found someone who is worthy of revealing your most trusted emotions.
You can be assured, our Father is with you in this time, even if you do not feel His presence. God knows the depth of what you are feeling and He will be with you in the tears, in the inertia, in the oppressive weight of loss.
He will be with you in the remembering of your dearest one, and all the feelings that go along with that. Our Father God will be with you in the midst of your sorrow, in the missing, in the wondering, in the cries, in the anger, in the harsh reality found in death, as His word states, He will never leave nor forsake any of us.
We can be confident that our God is faithful in being with us in all our emotional responses through grief and loss of our dearest and most precious child.
Just as He was with me in the midst of my tragedy, in the midst of my anguish, in the midst of my sorrow and pain, in the days I thought I could not go on without my son, He will be with you in the midst of all you experience in your emotions from sorrow in the grief and all that you are having to weather, for Our God is Faithful to us in all seasons of our lives.
Know this, He who has begun a work in you will steady you and He will bring you through times of intense suffering in and by His faithfulness
Place your confidence in His Spirit of ability to do so, as He infuses in us His Strength, giving us a power beyond our own, that is needed in helping us to walk this path known as Faith in the often-unexpected loss of a child, known as grief, and in the many emotional sufferings we experience as a result of life coming at us through death.