Faith after loss of a chid can be a touchy subject. I am aware of many moms who have had different journeys and perspectives on this, and we all have to walk our own paths. I’ve been a bit hesitant to talk about my faith, especially in this context, because I don’t want to offend anyone or to seem like I’m pushing my beliefs on others. But my faith has been way too central to this journey to not go there. So, I’ll share my view. It doesn’t have to be yours, I don’t expect that in the slightest. The journey you’re on, whether you’ve lost faith, clung to it for dear life, or somewhere in between, that’s where you are and that’s okay. You are on the right path for you, just like I know this is the right one for me. And in case it helps anyone else, I want to share my experience. But if it enfuriates you or does not ring true in your heart, please, by all means, stop reading.
The other day I was directed by my morning devotional to re-read a very familiar passage. John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” It’s so ubiquitous a statement of the miracle of faith that sometimes I see it on car bumper stickers. It’s referenced in songs and pop culture, and it’s one that many people recite from memory. So I can’t really explain why this time that I read it, it struck me SO differently. It hit me so hard I immediately started crying and I just had to write about it.
Since losing Jacob, I haven’t questioned my faith, I haven’t really questioned God why this had to happen, and I haven’t spent a lot of time wrestling with whether God “caused” or “let” this happen and what that means for my faith. I know many loss moms do grapple with those questions, and I’ve thought a lot about whether it’s okay that I haven’t. I’ve wondered, am I just not letting myself go there because I don’t want to be angry at God or question my faith? Am I short-circuiting my grieving process by not going through those thoughts and emotions, in such a way that it will come back to haunt me later? Is it a necessary part of grief to question faith, why this happened, and to get angry?
I’ve tried to give myself time to go through these thoughts and sit with them, and I just can’t really get there. Maybe I’m not strong enough to process those difficult questions, or maybe it’s not my time to do so yet. Or maybe God has just given me the gift of trust, and so it’s not a necessary step in my grieving process. Then, reading John 3:16 one morning a few weeks back, it became so clear to me that regardless of the answers to the questions above, it’s ok for me to just trust.
Reading those words, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” seemed to smack me in the face: God loves us SO much, that he would give His only Son so that we could have hope and a future in Him and with Him! How incredible is that? Having lost a son, my understanding of what that sacrifice means has increased exponentially. When I used to think of the story of the miracle of Jesus’ life and what it means to us, I would think of the Resurrection. Now, I don’t mean to take anything away from what the Resurrection means for us, but I now realize that perhaps the greater miracle, what should give us even more hope and trust, is that God was willing to let His only Son die in the first place! And if God loves us so much that He let His only Son die for us, how could I not trust Him? Whatever role God did or did not play in Jacob’s death, He willingly suffered the same loss, the loss of a child, for us. We were the reason He let his Son die – He wanted us to have hope and faith in an eternal life. Certainly a God with such a clear reason, a reason to benefit us, His sons and daughters he created here on earth, to let His own Son suffer and die on the cross, must have a good reason why my son had to die, too. I don’t think I’ll ever know what that reason was, and I’m certain I’ll never be able to look you in the eye and say “now I realize why Jacob had to die and that makes it okay”…even thinking of it makes me cringe. I know I’ll never feel okay with losing my son. But I also don’t think I need to get there. All I need to do is have faith and trust in a loving God who has my best interests at heart. And after questioning whether it was weird that I had that faith and trust, whether it was wrong, whether I needed to doubt or get angry, God answered those questions loud and clear: No. You are right to trust Me. I lost a Son too, and I chose to do it, and I did it for you, so you can trust Me, even when you don’t understand.
I’m in a season now where I really need to trust. Trust God. Trust myself. Trust others. And that trust is hard. I know I’ll never be perfect at it. There will always be doubts and fears, even anxiety and panic, because we live in a fallen world. But what better reminder than the sacrifice our God made for us, in the form of a loss I can identify with, to help bring me back in those uncertain moments?