I’ll never forget the long-distance call last May. “There was an accident. Ethan died this afternoon” The voice was choked and broken. It was one of my best friends, and she was talking about her 16 year old son. He and a friend were leaving their high school, just to grab a snack before their soccer game, when a semi-truck broadsided their car. The other boy was airlifted to the trauma unit at UVA Medical Center. Ethan died at the scene. In that moment, his life was gone, and my friend’s life was shattered.
The crash was eight months ago.
How do we begin to heal from a loss so sudden, so unexpected and so big? Whenever I would talk to my friend throughout the last few months, and ask how she was coping, she would tell me simply, “Breathe in. Breath out. Repeat….and repeating is the important part!”
What comes after an unexpected loss like this? Pain. Lots and lots of pain. Debilitating waves of grief. In a very brave, yet raw and candid way, his big sister, Taryn, tells of her journey over the last few months since the accident in her article, titled Ethan Died, published just a few weeks ago on her blog, www.unconsolidatedlife.com
“When people say “Ethan died” my gut reaction is to punch them, literally.”
She talks of her pain, her roller-coaster emotions, and the grieving process. She remembers the little things that can’t be replaced. She tells about the pain of losing a part of herself.
“We have a God who loves us so deeply and has prepared the perfect place for us. Ethan is there right now.”
The beautiful promise that Taryn relays at the end of her story is that there is a God who loves us, and through his son, Jesus, has prepared a place for us to spend eternity. By his faith in Jesus, Ethan is resting there now. That promise is found within The Bible, in Chapter 14 of the book called John, where Jesus encourages His believers with six things to ease their broken hearts. If you and I are believers in Jesus, we can claim these promises, too.
“Let not your hearts be troubled.”
That’s how Jesus calmly starts and ends His message here. Next He tells us about Heaven. He tells us that it’s a real place, and calls it His Father’s House. He describes it a place free from sorrow and pain, a place where we will live forever, with Him. The assurance of a peaceful, heavenly home waiting for us at the end of this journey called life is comforting, isn’t it? When we grasp that there’s more, and that there’s peace at the end, we find ourselves able to endure a lot of pain.
We don’t have to wait until Heaven to know God.
Jesus invites us to get to know Him. We don’t walk beside Him and listen to him today, like His earliest followers did. Instead we get to know Him through the Word he spoke, recorded in the Bible, and the stories of the incredible miracles He performed while He was here on earth. It’s by getting to know Him through His words that we also get to know God, the Creator of the Universe. When we begin to understand WHO is in control of our lives, it eases our troubled hearts and minds a bit to know that God is bigger than what we’re facing.
We can talk with Him.
He teaches us about prayer. When we pray to Him, and ask for things for the right reasons, with a clear heart, He will pass those requests on to God. Those prayers can be simple or complex, long or short. That’s not what’s important. God is looking for the condition of our hearts to be right, and for us to acknowledge Him and His ways, always praying “In His name”. How comforting to know that our prayers will be heard and answered, that we have a direct line to God through Jesus.
We are not alone.
Jesus tells of sending a comforter to come along side us and guide us spiritually. This comforter is called the Holy Spirit, the spirit of God. True comfort is indeed soothing, but it also strengthens us to face life bravely and to move on. The Holy Spirit is our encourager, our cheerleader, our teacher, and our advisor. The Holy Spirit lives in every believer of Jesus. It’s our gift from God that Jesus asked Him to give us. We’re never alone, abandoned, or helpless. It’s hard to hold onto a broken heart when the very Spirit of God lives in it!
God loves us.
When we suffer a brutal loss, we may feel that God has abandoned us, that He doesn’t want us or love us, or even that He’s mad at us. Actually, if we have given our hearts to Him, through belief in Jesus, then we have received the Holy Spirit….which means He hasn’t abandoned us! He actually lives within our hearts, as the Holy Spirit, to guide us and keep us safe. He is preparing a place for us to live with Him forever, and He is coming back to get us when the time is right. As we get to know Him better, learn His promises, and watch Him work in our lives, that love will grow and grow. When we feel abandoned, or alone in our suffering, then we can use the gifts God has given us by praying to Him, and asking Him to comfort us. When we ask Him in prayer to comfort us, we can expect to be showered in His love. Try it. I think it’s sort of like giving our broken hearts a bath!
We have Peace.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
Finally, He gives us Peace. He doesn’t give us the peace we feel when all is well and there’s no trouble in sight. No, the Peace that Jesus is talking about is with us in spite of the troubles we face. His Peace is born of God’s power found in the Holy Spirit that lives within each of us that believes in Him. The Holy Spirit guides us through the hardest, most painful times, and teaches us of God’s promises. We can’t skip the pain. It hurts, but the grief will run it’s course. Remember to breathe in, breathe out, and repeat. That may be all we can manage for one day. All we can do is lift our eyes and cling to the promises of a Saviour. He promises to take care of us, and gives us the hope for that peaceful resting place that Taryn reminded us of… Heaven.