I used to absolutely love this time of the year. From October to January, I have always loved everything about the fall and winter seasons. That has all changed now. Everything has changed. It is not that I go around moping or sad all the time, it is just not the same without Trey. In all that we do as a family, there is just always something missing. Behind our smiles, there is always some level of pain, and in our laughter, there is always some heartache. It is just life as we know it and we are still having to learn how to adjust to the new normal every single day.
We recently had our Fall Festival at the church. Trey loved dressing up for our church’s annual festival. This year was particularly hard. We saw many of Trey’s friends dressed up in their costumes and playing the games, and Emily and I could not help but wonder what Trey would be wearing and doing. We are also currently signing kids up for our Upward Basketball program. Trey desperately wanted to play Upward and for me to be his coach. He was so looking forward to that. I also recently baptized two of Trey’s friends, one of which was a little girl Trey had a crush on. I will never forget him telling me about his crush on this sweet little girl in the hospital. And of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas are all approaching as well. I do not know of another child who loved Christmas more than Trey. So, it is just hard all the way around…for all of us.
I know that Trey is not missing out on anything. He lacks nothing in the presence of God. I also know that when we see him again, it will be as if we were never apart. But, the in between phase is what is so hard. Truly, everything has changed so much, and our struggle remains. Those who have experienced loss know what I am talking about too. I think of several of our dear friends going through exactly what we are. I think of other friends getting ready to face what we are going through. This fallen world is just so hard, and with every heartache, it makes me long for the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Today, I am reminded of two things: 1.) Life in a fallen world is not pleasant! The Bible says that this world is not our home and that Christians are “aliens and strangers” in it. The pains and heartaches of this world are to serve as reminders that we are made for eternity. For those of us who are in Christ, this is good news…GREAT NEWS! One day, we will be with the Lord forever and forever. So today, if you are a Christian and you are suffering…just remember, this fallen world does not have the final say…God does, and the best is yet to come. I heard someone say it like this one time: “For the Christian, this world is as bad as it will ever get, but for the non-Christian, this world is as good it will ever get;” 2.) In the fallen world, God has promised to be with us! I love that one of God’s promises for His children is to never leave or forsake them. Today, if you are hurting like me, just know that you are not alone…God is with you! We simply must look to Him and ask Him to carry our burdens. There are times I feel like no one understands my pain, my fears, my hurts, but then I am reminded that Jesus does. Jesus knows rejection, suffering, and pain in the greatest of all ways, and the BIble says that He weeps with us. God had the effects of sin more than we do, and when He sees His children suffer or hurt, He grieves. One day though, He will make it all right and restore all things in the final New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21). I, for one, cannot wait for that day.
Let me end with one final thing. The other day, a man walked up to me and said, “I hear you and Emily are really struggling.” I said, “No more than usual, but we are making it by the grace of God every day.” My answer was obviously not what he was looking for because he proceeded to tell me why I should not be struggling. I listened and really did not try to correct him because I have just learned with some, there is really no point. I did say, “Brother, I appreciate your concern, but as long as we are on this earth, we will have hurts and pains. As long as Emily and I are alive, we will grieve the loss of our son. But, we grieve with hope. We weep with trust in our Savior. We will get up each day and continue to get up each day and trust God with our pain. So, we will probably keep struggling, but as the Apostle Paul said, ‘We have been struck down, but not destroyed.'”
I think some Christians feel like people who struggle are somehow not walking with the Lord as they should, or that there is a deficiency in their faith. I actually feel the opposite. The Bible teachers that “in our weakness, HE is strong.” Yes, Emily and I and our family continue to struggle, and we are okay with that. Yes, we have good days…yes, we are making new memories…yes, we are continuing to move forward, but we are still struggling…and for us, that is okay. The struggle makes us depend on the Lord. The struggle keeps us focused on eternity. The struggle reminds us God is in control and is our only source of true joy. The struggle is real, but it is okay…and because God is God and He is good, we will be okay.
Keep praying for us as you think about us…pray we keep making much of Jesus in our struggle!