Saturday, January 28, 2012

"Unspeakable Grief": A Brief Departure From Prophecy

The term "unspeakable grief" comes from a chapter in Max Lucado's book "Facing Your Giants". I'll come back to quotes from that chapter in a few minutes.

Unfortunately, this description of grief characterizes what a family is experiencing tonight, following the tragic, accidental death of their beloved son. Not just any family, but a very special family who is loved by everyone who has the fortune of knowing them - and you can count my family in that category.

Their son is quite unique: Bright, energetic, gregarious, loving, kind and compassionate are just a few of the words you will hear describing his personality. He is with Jesus now and enjoying everything God has to offer in a paradise called heaven. We will miss him dearly, but his departure represents a brief separation - we know that a reunion is rapidly approaching.

(note: I will speak of him in the presence tense, as I do with all Christians who have gone to heaven. There is no death with our brothers and sisters in Christ; they are simply in heaven, so I refuse to discuss such people in the past tense)

This untimely death however forces us to face many questions - questions that cannot be ignored. One of the more popular questions is "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
In this context, one of the most common follow-up questions relates to how God can "allow" such tragedies to occur - why God can "allow" something so fundamentally horrible as the death of a child.

I've been searching for those answers. I also hope this column can somehow provide some reflection and comfort based on the scriptures and authors whose capabilities far exceed mine.

You get the idea. Now, let’s take the most gut-wrenching example, the death of a child, and see if together we can’t make better sense of why God would allow the bad to exist.

Why would God allow that? Why would God allow a child to lose his or her little life?

From God’s perspective, that life is not lost. God is able to restore to that child their life, so no loss is suffered on the part of the child. Life is not lost to the One who can restore it.

What about the grief that parents and family experience?

In our loss, the presence of God is available for us to experience His strength, His comfort, His sustaining love and assurance... God sustains those who grieve for those He calls to Himself.

Max Lucado devotes a chapter in his book "Fearless" to this topic (Chapter 5 if you have the book) - below are a few notable quotes:

God has a heart for hurting parents. Should we be surprised? After

all, God himself is a father.

What parental emotion has he not felt? Are

you separated from your child? So was God. Is someone mistreating your

child? They mocked and bullied his. Is someone taking advantage of your

children? The Son of God was set up by false testimony and betrayed by

a greedy follower. Are you forced to watch while your child suffers? God

watched his son on the cross. Do you find yourself wanting to spare your

child from all the hurt in the world? God did. But because of his great

love for us, “he did not spare his own Son but gave him for us all. So with

Jesus, God will surely give us all things” (Rom. 8:32 ncv).

“All things” must include courage and hope.

Some of you find the story of Jairus difficult to hear. You prayed the

same prayer he did, yet you found yourself in a cemetery facing every

parent’s darkest night: the death of your child. No pain compares. What

hope does the story of Jairus offer to you? Jesus resurrected Jairus’s

child. Why didn’t he save yours?

God understands your question. He buried a child too. He hates

death more than you do. That’s why he killed it. He “abolished death

and brought life and immortality to light” (2 Tim. 1:10). For those who

trust God, death is nothing more than a transition to heaven. Your child

may not be in your arms, but your child is safely in his.

We tend to forget this fact, regarding our children as “our” children,

as though we have the final say in their health and welfare. We don’t.

All people are God’s people, including the small people who sit at our

tables. Wise are the parents who regularly give their children back to


Also from Max Lucado, we turn to quotes from "Facing Your Giants" and the chapter entitled "Unspeakable Grief":

Face your grief with tears, time and - one more - face your grief with truth. Paul urged the Thessalonians to grieve, but he didn't want the Christians to "carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word" (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

God has the last word on death. And, if you listen, he will tell you the truth about your loved ones. They've been dismissed from the hospital called Earth. You and I still roam the halls, smell the medicines, and eat green beans and Jell-O off plastic trays. They, meanwhile, enjoy picnics, inhale springtime, and run through knee-high flowers. You miss them like crazy, but can you deny the truth?

They have no pain, doubt, or struggle. They really are happier in Heaven.

And you won't see them soon?

When you drop your kids off at school, do you weep as though you'll never see them again? When you drop your spouse at the store and park the car, do you bid a final forever farewell? No.

When you say, "I'll see you soon," you mean it.

When you stand in the cemetery and stare down at the soft, freshly turned earth and promise, I'll see you soon, you speak truth. Reunion is a splinter of an eternal moment away.

There is no need for you to "grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope" (1 Thessalonians 4:13 NIV)

So go ahead, face your grief. Give yourself time. Permit yourself tears. God understands. He knows the sorrow of the grave. he buried his son. But He also knows the joy of resurrection. And, by his power, you will too.

It's always good to remember that God fully understands our grief. But as we experience grief and (temporary) loss - we have to remember that God also provides hope and an eternal future with our loved ones in Christ. It's a guarantee.

What do the scriptures have to say?

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things have passed away."
(Revelation 21:4)

"Give your burdens to the Lord.
He will carry them.
He will not permit the Godly to slip or fall."
(Psalm 55:22)

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed,
we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven,
not built by human hands.

For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because
we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly
dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are
at home in the body we are away from the Lord.

We live by faith, not by sight.

We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body
and at home with the Lord."
(1 Corinthians 4:18 and 5:1-9)

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable,
and the mortal man with immortality, then the saying that is
written will come true:

"Death has been swallowed up in victory"

"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
(1 Corinthians 15:54-55)

We are all awaiting the most epic reunion imaginable. A reunion that has been carefully planned by God - a reunion that will be filled with great joy and celebration.

We prophecy watchers know this reunion will be coming very very soon. There is no such thing as "death" for a Christian. We relocate to a far far better place - a place called heaven. A place that our loved ones - (those who have gone ahead of us) - are currently experiencing - the wonders of the universe and beyond. A place where our loved ones are in the very presence of Jesus Himself - at this very moment.

Blake is experiencing all of these wonders at this very moment.
He is with Jesus at this very moment.
He has no pain, no tears, no fears, no anguish and absolutely no hardships whatsoever.

Rather, he is experiencing unimaginable peace and joy. He is in the very arms of Jesus Himself.

As Max Lucado so eloquently stated:

"For those who trust God, death is nothing more than a transition to heaven. Your child may not be in your arms, but your child is safely in His."


Nothing can completely extinguish the pain and grieving that the family of this beloved child is experiencing at this moment.

But God has given us hope and assurances. We know without a doubt that this family will be reunited in heaven - for eternity.

And when that magical moment happens (and as stated, we prophecy watchers believe this moment will be very very soon), Blake will be there - waiting with open arms - waiting for his family - ready to show them the joys of paradise that he is experiencing right now.

We love you Blake; we will see you soon.


Alice said...

My prayers are with his family, Scott. Thank you for sharing...

Waterer said...

Thank you Scott. SO much. What a sad day for all who love that dear family. I have been praying and praying for the the kids at the school too. Death is the last enemy and I can hardly wait for it to be defeated, Fully and Finally!!
YOur words and The words from others, along with Scripture are comforting and feel like weapons against the dark and against the emptiness . Will be praying with you and yours.

Scott said...

Thanks Kathy.

So well put when you say " weapons against the dark and the emptiness" - exactly.

"That day" that we are all longing for and waiting for can't come soon enough.

"Come quickly Lord."

I think we're all ready to go home.

Anonymous said...

Scott, do you have his name ??
u know, the guy that died. Please
tell me, I want to know. I am
all alone here in Hawaii, and
i can only hope that someday
if I make it to Heaven I can meet this person and be his friend.

Then I can atleast remember him
as a friend i CAN have in the


Stephen >>>>>>>>>>>>

Mark Bonner said...

Scott, what beautiful words you have put in place for all to garner comfort from. We cannot know, even imagine what Patty, Jeff, Rob and Lauren are going through...only God knows. How wonderful that God has surrounded this family with Christ loving, praying friends. May our moans be heard loudly by our Lord so that He will send His peace. "Mr B."

Kem said...

Scott, thank you so much for this comforting word. I pray for the family who have lost their dear son and for my own dear son and dil. Their son, our grandson, died suddenly just this past labor day night. This post was a special blessing to me this morning.

Caver said...

Sitting here with tears in my eyes....such beautiful words, thoughts, and promises He made to us.

Prayers from the Caver household for the loss of your friend Blake, for his family, and all his friends....the Lord comfort and give the peace only He can.

It sounds like Blake touched many people in his short time here.

God Bless!

GG said...

I am so sorry to hear of this family's tragic loss.

(1 Corinthians 4:18 and 5:1-9)

You are right, this passage says so much. Our prayers and hearts are with them as well. May your church family be a great comfort and pour out Gods love on his family in the days ahead.

Also, thank you Scott for telling me about Max Lucado last year. I love reading his books.

God Bless!!


Scott said...

Thanks so much for the kind words and prayers. I know we can help rebuild this family and somehow give comfort through the power of prayer.

What I forgot to mention is the fact that I can honestly say, I never once heard one negative comment about Blake in all the years (he is 14) - not once. He was loved by EVERYONE.

Kem - I didn't know about your tragedy.

Thankfully we have so much to look towards we have such an incredible future to look forward to, and Jesus beat death on the cross for all of His people.

Scott said...

Thanks for that note - I'll go to that link and check it out.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this note.... Blake was a dear friend of mine and also a classmate. He was one of the funniest and sweetest people I ever knew. Again, thank you for these soothing words. My thoughts and prayers are with the Hubbard family <3

James N nashville said...

Having experienced the loss of a child I can tell you that there is nothing that compares to this kind of loss.

Scott if you can reassure the family for me that they will get through this I would appreciate it. Please tell the extended family who is providing support to them that its vital that they surpress their grief for the parents and let them talk about Blake.

What happens is the people that love them most ofetn think they shouldn't talk about the child for fear it will make the parents grieve heavier. That is wrong and causes the family to internalize their grief. They need to let the parents talk about Blake as it will help them through the healing process.

I would be happy to speak with them anytime as I have helped counsel parents who have lost a child. I will email you my phone number.

Thanks so much for posting this today.

James N Nashville

Scott said...

You are such a blessing. Thanks so much and I may take you up on this.

You are an awesome person. I don't know what else to say, but thank you. I can't wait to meet you in person, brother.

James N Nashville said...

Thank you Scott. I fell the same way about you brother!!

Dutch Treat said...

Scott, I was so deeply saddened to hear about this, especially when it involves a child. Sometimes I feel guilty that he has blessed me with good health for almost 65 years, while someone else has to die so young. I served as an usher for Hunter Kelly's funeral. He was the son of Buffalo Bills Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly who died of Crabbe-Aids disease at the age of 8. It was the toughest funeral I ever attended; and I can't even begin to imagine what his family is going through right now. Thank you for all the scripture references that provide a measure of comfort at this time. It was comforting enough that Blake had a personal relationship with Jesus, and that they will be reunited with him again soon. I wlll certainly keep the family in my prayers. " Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you without blemish before the presence of His glory with rejoicing, to the only God, our saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, domnion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. {Jude 24-25}

Scott said...

Well said and thanks for those insights. This is a solid Christian family with some of the best friends you can imagine. Everyone is rallying around this family. To see this Christian brotherhood working in action is heartwarming even in the face of this tragedy.

I can't wait to see their reunion, along with the rest of us. But at the moment of the rapture, I'll be excited to glance over at their family's celebration and smile at the fulfilled promises that Jesus has given us.

Anonymous said...

When I was 23, my husband comitted suicide and left me with an 8 month old baby and a 3 year old. It was an absolutely brutal experience, yet it pales in comparison to losing a child! His body was cremated and we scattered his ashes at Crabtree Falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. And it was there I experienced the most amazing thing!
I of course was devestated and grieving and miserable and I climbed much higher up the mountain than everyone else and sat on a rock. When I looked up there was a hole in the beautiful fall foliage and I could see clear across the valley to the other side, where mountains shot up. The sun was illuminating the glorious colors and it appeared God himself had plugged the whole of the Appalachians into a gigantic power cord and the mountains were lit up so brightly with every shade of yellow, red and gold that ever could have existed.At that very moment, I realized how long those mountains have been there, how long this yearly Fall extravaganza had been occurring, how many other people had grieved in this valley, pioneers, native americans and even farther back than that. And how the mountains stayed the same, just like HE who created them. And I had this flash of how our lives are just a blink in the overall scheme of things. All those things we become so concerned about like bills and appointments and our appearance etc are meaningless really. We come from HIM and return to HIM. And all there really HIM and our relationship with HIM. And its all so fast and fleeting, all of it.
So wether he tarries, or calls us up tommorrow, it is really just a blink away on HIS timetable! So very hard for us to remember that and hold it close to heart, but it is so very true. Just a blink and then we are there with him, no more tears!
Celebrate Blake's life, start something Blake would have really liked to see happen, help and love people in celebration of Blake's life! As long as you keep his memory alive, he is still alive here with us all, because he is still alive, just somewhere else in another dimension.
It is like following your friend on a windy mountain road, he is just around the bend, you just can't see his car right this second, but he is still there.
Stephen, your words were perfect! Blake is a new friend we get to meet in just a little while! Just a tiny little while really.
Maranatha and for the grieving parents Lord, your perfect peace-the one that passes all understanding! With Love-Ally

Mrs.C said...

Dear Brother Scott,
Thank you for your most beautiful writings honoring this young man Blake and his family. No deeper wound of the heart and Soul, that Blake’s family and friends must be feeling at this moment. A child is so very precious, a beautiful gift from God Himself, and they are the very essence of pure joy, pure love, to be cherished! We serve an awesome God, a Loving Father. He knows the excruciating pain of being separated from His Only Son, …if only briefly…He knows that pain. Because of His Love for us, He suffered that pain of separation from His Son, while His Son cried out to Him. Jesus too knew the pain of loss, as He wept over his friend Lazarus.
As the separation of Our Father and His Son was only brief, so it will be brief with us and our loved ones that are with Him now this very moment! There is no death…Jesus conquered it thousands of years ago! We as followers of Our Lord Jesus, have hope in Him as Paul said, while others have not.

Know this dear Brother, Blake came into this world loved, and has now left this world loved. Blake has returned home and at this moment, is in the Loving Arms of God where the very existence of love was created…

Weeping may endure for a night…but joy comes in the morning! That morning is that Glorious day when we once again are reunited with all those we love so very much….
It won’t be long until we meet again…and it will be for Eternity! God Bless and keep Blake’s family and friends so very close, and Bless them with His Peace that is beyond understanding.

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

1 Thessalonians 4:13
13.But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

Mrs.C said...

Brother James,
It truly is an honor to be your Sister in Christ...
God Bless You!

Brother Stephen,
Please know this dearest Brother, you are never alone.Your words were so beautiful...
God Bless You!

Scott said...

Such beautiful words Ally and Mrs C and they are greatly appreciated. Many folks from the community will come here and surely read your words, and they are greatly appreciated.

Like any community, the Christian brotherhood has its warts, but I tell you - at times like this, there is no better group in the universe than the group of Christian brothers and sisters. Especially those I have been around lately, not only the good people who are rallying around this family but the people at church and on this board. The love and the kindness I have seen is overwhelming.

I'm so proud to be able to call fellow Christians my brothers and sisters. What an honor and privlidge it is.

God Bless

GG said...

Hi Scott~

I was wondering if you can let this family know of a beautiful sermon we had last night at church. Our pastor had a guest speaker and he wanted us to savor the true moments of the "Our Father" prayer and personal relationship.

The message was so beautiful and timely as I think of what this family has just gone through yesterday. I know as I type this, I can't even begin to do it justice, but here is what I took away from it. :)

He spoke of us opening up in prayer to "Our Father" in a slow and intimate way. When we do that we open up as a community because as Jesus spoke; not only knowing that was his father, he spoke collectively on our behalf that God is the father of each and every one of us, that we are a community under "Our Father".

He talked about how when we begin with the "Our Father" how we open up the communication between Heaven and Earth. Not just saying it, but communicating and opening the door way for the HS to work while we pray and move about our day. The most precious part of this story was how he spoke of how wonderful a relationship can be between a father and a child. One that is so precious that the child, so little or big, has no problem running up into the arms of their earthly father, to feel their embrace and lovingly know they are protected daily.

He talked about how when we start with the "Our Father" we are in a sense; raising our hands up in our hearts, mind or actions, just like that of an innocent child. When we run into his arms he lifts us up high so we can see his world and not just our view. He loves and accepts us just as we are. He is, after all "Our Father". His arms are always open wide to receive us and lift us up above all of lives problems. He always will when we run to him.

He also spoke of those who may not have had such a precious reminder in their lives of what a true and good father is. He was quick to remind us that "Our Father" so much better than what our minds can even wrap our thoughts around. This Pastor's gentle spirit reminded me, while we walk this earth thinking of some of the most brilliant people, even like Einstein, that Einstein's best is beneath Gods least.

At the end of service, he reminded us to go in peace. Remember "Our Father" in Heaven in such a different way now; for we soon will be running just like these innocent children of days so long ago, right into the arms of our Heavenly Father, who has greater things in store than we can even imagine.

I pray this will help them to see while their son was leaving here, he was running into the arms of "Our Father". I can't help but think of this beautiful reunion of their son and "Our Father".

God Bless!!


Scott said...

Do they put these sermons up on audio, on the church website? Is there a way to get the audio? It sounds really good - thanks for sharing that. it sounds like something we could all hear.

Anonymous said...

It is surely a mystery to me...
will always be, that I have gone
thru 58 years in this world, and
it's like I SEE so MANY of these
stories of persons MUCH younger
then me, gone in a moment of time.

And, I ask myself, why am I here
so LONG ?? Is there some reason
WHY I am not gome like them ??

Having survived 4 suicide attempts
and yet I am still HERE many years
later ?? It seems so strange.

I mean, this guy was only 14,
same age as Dylan.....can't
figure it out what is going on.
Maybe someone can ANSWER the question for me ????

Stephen >>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Caver said...

Yes, Brother Stephen...yes.

Because Your Father isn't ready for you yet.
He still has a job for you...and each of

He knows you....personally
He knows the time
He knows His plan for your life
He knows where you are in it

Don't worry, my friend.
His timing is perfect....
He's in perfect control

Scott said...

I agree with Caver. Additionally, all of our hardships boil down to the fact that we are living in a fallen world. As a result of this, we have to experience hardships such as pain and death.

Only Jesus can and will change that when He comes from His rule. Not until then. Until the Second Coming we will have to live under the curse of original sin.

Fortunately, for us, we have a unique situation in which the Groom will come for His bride and we will so fortunately escape the final birth pains before the second coming ----> we will be entering the 7 year "consumation" period between the Bride and the Groom - in the place that He has prepared for us - exactly like the ancient Jewish Wedding Customs.

And that day should be coming soon. Very soon.

GG said...

Hi Scott-

Let me do some checking this week for you OK? I believe there should be as they are always recording each session and spreading the word through various methods :)

I will be happy to see what I can find :)

God Bless!!

Diane said...

When you pray for this bereaved family, please also pray for another family in this school. The other family has a younger child, a sibling of a current student, who met with a recent serious accident .

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15


Jec said...

One by one, He takes us from this world, and sometimes by two or more. Those that are His by our choice or those under the age of accountability. Here we live life, that at times is abruptly cut by accident, sickness, or old age, for we are nothing but a breath, a vapor. Our destination is a better place, that far exceeds anything our wildest imaginations could ever think, and while we sleep and dream of Heaven.....dreams that could never even come close to what He has in store for us! Yes, its so sad for us who are left behind this side of the rapture when loved ones are taken. Far better than being left behind after the rapture. At times, large groups have been taken, those little boys of 2 years old and under at the time of King Herod. And even a greater group was the increase of the population of Heaven that was found at the time of the flood, those under the AoA. Whether one or a thousand, He loves us just the same, each of us and individually. Can you just imagine the picture of Jesus weeping for Martha & Mary, the emotional pain He felt as He groaned in the spirit, and at the same time, He knew Himself to be taken soon from all of them in the clouds. Oh, the joy that was brought forth in raising Lazarus from the death! By contrast, the unexpressed pain and utter horror that will be felt for those on planet earth after Christ calls forth the dead and us who are alive to Himself in the air. Not for long will we have to suffer a while longer. May God surround this family with His loving presence and by His Spirit of comfort, comfort them and all of us as we long for the day we finally go Home. Thanks Scott for this blog and your many encouraging words. Please give this family a hug from all of us here and let them know we are praying for them.

Scott said...

JEC - Thats so nice of you, and thanks so much for that.

I was telling someone tonight how touched I have been by our Christian community and how they have covered this family in love and care. Its an awesome thing to see. Some of the best people I have ever been around - in my life - are in this school/Christian community.

The comments here are pretty awesome too. Many people have been deeply touched - its greatly appreciated.