I know of at least 4 families connected to our church community who have lost a father/grandfather just this month. Over the last 14 months, my wife and I have lost 3 grandparents and 2 aunts, between the two of us. I know other friends with family members who are currently in poor health, fighting cancer, dealing with lingering illness.
It’s just another reminder that we’re reaching the age where our parents and grandparents aren’t going to be with us for too much longer. We’re really becoming “the adults in the room.”
I wrote a few weeks ago about the blessing of hope. I’m also personally blessed that by the grace of God my parents are still alive. (It helps that they’re younger than the parents of most of my peers, having had me when they were teenagers.) We’ve had a few scares over the years, but my parents are doing well–facing some physical challenges, but still fighting.
This realization that we don’t know what may happen around the next bend in the road makes me desire all the more to maintain a good, healthy relationship with my parents. We’ve had bumps along the way as I’ve learned how to engage them as an adult child and the head of my own household, but we’re doing well right now. I’m very grateful for that.
I had a conversation with a friend two days ago who is still feeling pretty raw about the recent loss of her father. I tried to encourage her as best I could, but there was an invisible barrier I couldn’t quite break through. I didn’t know her father. I couldn’t give a full assurance of Gospel hope for his sake or provide any context to help in her grief. All I could do was be present there with her and her husband, listen to her, nod, and remind her that the Lord Jesus is near to her in her sadness.
After all, we can rightly infer from the Gospels that Jesus’ earthly father Joseph was dead and gone by the time of the crucifixion, since Jesus entrusts his mother’s care to his disciple John. So, although we don’t see an explicit record of it, we know that Jesus our Savior understands what it’s like to stand at the graveside of a father, and to comfort his widowed mother in her grief. We also know that Jesus is sympathetic to us in our weakness and that He understands our pain.
Those encouragements, my presence, and my wife’s homemade soup were the best things I could bring in that moment. I have to trust that was enough.
My prayer is that I will cling to these truths one day in my own valley of the shadow, because unless Jesus comes back first, I will eventually be standing at a lonely graveside like that as well. My heart aches even to consider it.
For now, I will make the best of every day I have with my parents. I’m deeply thankful for them. They are blessings to me.