On September 1, 2013, my precious seven year old son, Trey, went to be with the Lord. This was the worst day of my life, but the best day of his life. If I was honest, on that day, there was a large part of me that wanted to die. I could not believe what was happening to my son, and the reality that I would never see him again on this earth, shook me to the core. Every day since then, I have had to learn how to live with the deep emotional pain.
In many ways, it is hard to believe that it has been two years since Trey died. Some days, time seems to fly by, and other days, time seems to stand still. Every day is just so different. There are mornings when I wake up and am so overwhelmed by grief, it is hard to do anything, but there are also mornings when I wake up and have an unexplainable joy and energy. I have simply had to learn how not to be led my feelings or circumstances.
As I reflect on what the last two years have been like, here are some things that have helped me keep living in the midst of such deep despair. I pray they encourage any other fellow grievers as well.
First, I have to remind myself daily of what God has done for Trey. God not only saved Trey’s soul on January 8, 2013, but He then delivered him for the pains of this world by taking him directly into His presence on September 1, 2013. One of the most important ways to cope with grief is by focusing on where our Christian loved ones are. God’s Word tells us that for those who are in Christ, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” When I think about where Trey is, I cannot help but rejoice!
Second, I have to remind myself daily that God has me here for a purpose. If God was finished with me, he would take me home, too. As long as I have breath in my lungs, I have to believe and understand that God has something for me to do. It is sinful for me to reject God’s purpose for my life. I must daily connect with God’s will and seek to live out His plan in the strength that He provides. I simply need to be the man, husband, father, and pastor God wants me to be. As we often sing, from the song, In Christ Alone, “Till He returns, or calls me home, here in the power of Christ I stand.”
Third, I have to remind myself of the promises in God’s Word. When I saturate my mind with God’s truth, I am filled with hope, peace, and joy. It is when I get out of God’s Word that I find myself discouraged and defeated. God’s Word is filled with promises and when I am reminded of them and embrace them by faith, it is amazing the amount of focus I have. Every believer in Jesus must keep God’s Word at the center of their heart and mind.
Fourth, I have to remind myself that God uses, and continues to use, Trey’s story for His glory. This life is but a breath compared to eternity, and the way God has used Trey is hard to put into words. There will be countless people in heaven because they have embraced Christ through Trey’s testimony. Trey accomplished more in seven years than some people will accomplish in one hundred years. When I think about how God has used the life of my son, it encourages me to keep telling his story and seeing lives changed for all of eternity.
Finally, I have to remind myself that so much of life in a fallen world comes down to sheer endurance and perseverance. Life is hard and until God removes all sin from this world, Christians have to learn how to trust God in the storm, not in spite of the storm. I heard someone say that “God never uses anyone mightily that He doesn’t test thoroughly.” Trial, hardship, and suffering are ways God keeps us dependent on Him, but also detached from this world. I have to wake up every day and remind myself of those things.
There are many other things I have learned, but those are just a few of the main things I remind myself of daily. If you, like me, are living through some sort of trial, just remember that it is all for a purpose. You and I simply must trust Him and walk with Him through the storms of life. I can make you a promise, too. God will never leave you and He will always provide what you need to endure what you face. Hang in there and keep trusting Him!