Fear brings torment, and as parents grieving the earthly loss of our child, it is easy to feel the full weight of that torment.
What are some of those fears?
• That going forward with your life will cause those around you to forget your child ever lived
• That there will be moments when you don’t think about or even miss your child
• That laughing or having fun without your child means you’re a bad parent
• That you may lose your other children, making it hard to let them go (either out of your sight or to grow up and be on their own)
• That your child may not be in heaven
If we are afraid of something, it means that thing has more power over us than we do over it. So, if we are afraid to face the pain of our grief and work our way through it, our fear will continue to control us.
There is something much more powerful than our deepest fears: God’s love for us! God’s perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). If we have fear, it is because we don’t believe in His perfect love for us. And that’s understandable, because it is hard to reconcile in our minds how we can trust a God who says He loves us and yet allowed this terrible thing to happen to our child and to us.
I can offer no easy fix or solution to this, although it is very black-and-white. We either believe God is good and Satan is evil, or we don’t. We either fear that God isn’t big enough or we have faith that He is more than enough.
Making a Shift in How You See God
I want to share with you a few things to help make a shift in how you see God in the midst of your fears, caused by the pain of your tragedy.
1. Some parents are helped by the realization that their child is not missing; he or she is simply absent.
To be absent means not to be present for the moment. The Bible says that for someone who has accepted the gift of salvation, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8).
This is one of those times where perspective can change everything. I can either focus on my personal loss that my child is absent from this earth, or I can focus on the fact that my child is present with the Lord. My daughter, Becca, is absent from my presence for now, but not forever.
2. Reading the book of Psalms in the Bible can be extremely helpful.
Over and over the writer cries out for help from a very dark place of despair. And God responds by being a rock, a refuge and help in times of need. I spend a lot of time there when I “relapse” and find myself struggling with the pain and reality that Becca is gone from this earth and I won’t see her again until I join her in heaven.
3. Don’t keep looking back, allowing yourself to be paralyzed by the pain.
I am so sorry to say this, and I am not trying to be cruel, but simply want to set you free; no matter how much you want your child’s life back, it isn’t going to happen. I did that, and here is what God spoke to me one day.
Laura, DON’T LOOK BACK! Go forward with everything you’ve got! Lot’s wife looked back and she was frozen to a place where she died. She could not go anywhere because she looked back. I know that may seem harsh, but it will become a tormenting fear that will paralyze you. Don’t look back at the crushing; if you look back to ponder and relive the death, you won’t be able to walk in the power of My resurrection life… You will grow stronger in it each day you come up to Me to drink. Drink daily. Drink deeply. For it will truly be a wellspring of life in you and through you.
I have made the choice to refuse to remain focused on the pain of my loss. I am determined to go forward, focused on who and what I still have. I have given God the shattered pieces of my life and am watching Him not only fix it but make it into something that is actually beautiful. Only a God who specializes in miracles can do that!
I also refuse to live in fear of the “what ifs” of more loss. If that happens, I know that I know that I know God will give me the grace I need to get through it. Why waste my time on the darkness of fearing what will probably never happen? I would much rather live my life full of light and hope of a better tomorrow, both here on earth and in my eternal home with Becca. You and I both are blessed with so much that has not been taken from us. Most of us know that in our heads and are waiting for our hearts to catch up.
What fears are you carrying right now? Are they things God would have you carry? Let me answer that for you. No, they are not. So, are you willing to lay them down at the feet of Jesus, who is sitting on His throne as King, and leave them there so you can move forward in freedom?
Fear and faith have the same root, which is belief in the unknown.
Which “unknown” are you going to start believing in and acting on? I recommend faith.
This article is adapted from Chapter 8 of the book When Tragedy Strikes. To receive the full chapter, which includes discussing the fear of our child not being in heaven, simply submit your name and email address and it will be sent directly to you immediately.
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