"God’s first commandment is to put no created thing before Him. We know we should never make what He has created into a substitute for Him, but sometimes we wrongly conclude that people and things and pleasures are therefore bad, forgetting that it was God Himself who made them. "
Sometimes, well-meaning people may try to persuade those who grieve to "get over" or "get passed" the sorrow. In my experience, it is usually because they are uncomfortable with sorrow and tears or they may be concerend that we might be focusing on our child too much, making our child a "substitute" for God somehow. Randy Alcorn's words spoke specifically to me today, as I remembered a time soon after my son, Kevin's passing, when someone who knew little about me or grief made a very wrong conclusion that grieving as a Christian is somehow "bad" and skews our perceptions and relationship with God.
About 5 months after the loss of my son, I decided to fulfill a prior committment that I had made as a staff member for a week-long Royal Family Kids Camp for abused children at Point Loma, California. Everyone on the RFKC staff knew that I was a grieving mom, and I was assured that I would be emotionally "safe" and everyone would be sensitive to and understanding of my grief.
The setting for the camp was on the Point Loma University campus, which overlooked the ocean. At one of our staff meetings that was set outside, I spotted several surfers in the water and was emotionally overcome with the thought and memories of my son, who was a surfer and had left this earth while surfing. In those few moments, my heart and attention was turned toward Kevin and tears poured down my cheek faster than I could wipe them away.
One team leader saw me crying and asked me to take a walk with him. As we began to walk down the pathway toward the beach, he began to give me a spiritual pep talk, quoting scripture, insuring me that "God is in control" and including his exhortation that "you must guard your heart not to judge God inappropriately" . . . this last statement really set me off emotionally.
"Judge God inappropriately?" I responded. "Whatever you think I need to hear from you surely is not from the Lord and that statement is absolutely inappropriate." I then asked him, "Have you ever lost someone you love deeply? Do you have children?" To which he answered, "I do have a son and and a daughter, and I can't imagine losing either of them."
The last thing I needed just 5 months after suffering the loss of my son, as is true for anyone who is grieving, was to be preached to be someone who had no firsthand understanding or knowledge of what I was going through. The more this well-meaning brother in Christ and I talked, the more he realized how misguided he was in his attempt to exhort me to "keep the faith." He also admitted that my tears made him uncomfortable, and his first thought was to remove me from the group.
Well-meaning people can make well-meaning mistakes in how they perceive and relate to someone who is grieving. The longer we talked, the more obvious it became to me that this man's concern about my relationship with God was really more about his personal spiritual journey. For some reason known only to him, he mis-read my tears, as a threat to my faith and trust in God, and he wanted to point me toward God and away from Kevin.
From the beginning of my journey through grief, my heart settled on drawing closer and relying soley on my Heavenly Father and grieving with the hope of Eternity. Though I have never put Kevin before the Lord, I love him deeply and eternally, and I have given myself permission to miss him and express my sorrow, which I have learned is not only natural, but necessary for for healing.
Randy Alcorn's words encourage me to constantly remind myself that nothing and no one should be a "substitute" for God, and that every "good and perfect gift" is from Him; everything and everyone in my life is a gift from Him, and Kevin is certainly one of His "good and perfect giifts" to me and to my family.
With Love, Blessings and Hugs,
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