As I’ve slowed down to grieve and contemplate the tragic loss of my beautiful friend, Morgan, James 1:27 keeps coming to mind. It really hadn’t been the expected verse of choice, but because it has been popping up in my brain on repeat, I started to ask Him why. For reference, it essentially says, “True religion that God approves is this: to care for the orphans and widows in their distress…”
I’ve always just looked at this as the ultimate call to service and a reminder to Christians that religious BS is NOT the heart of the Father nor what Christ came to establish. He didn’t come to create a regulatory system of ritual worship and judgement. He came to heal our relationship with Him and clear the way for us to come back into His arms.
This weekend, however, I’ve come to see another level of what distress looks like as I’ve watched Morgan’s dad’s responses to her passing. His utter anguish is horrible, and my heart weeps for he, his wife, and their son. It has made me really stop and think about what it looks like to care for people their distress. Especially when distress looks like what I’ve seen this weekend.
Then it hit me.
The verse specifically mentions orphans and widows: children who’ve lost their parents and people who’ve lost their life partners.
Nothing is said of parents who’ve lost their children.
But I know that Papa God knows a thing or two about the agony of losing a child – His only Son, full of life and selfless concern for other people, a heart of gold working to make the world a better place, prematurely stripped from this world in one of the most torturous and horrific ways possible after having been tormented and scorned publically. Even if one doesn’t believe Jesus was who He claimed to be, the fact remains that He was a son, He suffered, and His parents had to watch (Mary from His feet and Papa from His head) as He took His final breath at the young age of 33. He wasn’t an old man, nor did He outlive His parents, and He’d only just begun His life’s vocation. His obituary would read just like that of any son who’s been lost before their time.
I KNOW God understands the suffering of a grieving parent and that He is close to those who mourn. So why would this not be included in the passage of ultimate religion?
Because it’s not supposed to happen.
Though it’s hard to lose anyone, it is an accepted fact of life that the time will eventually come for a child’s older parents to pass away or for one spouse to head Home before the other. But this… This was never in the plans. It’s unnatural. It’s unexpected. It’s horrific and heinous. And I think Papa was making a point when He left it out of His Book: even after sin brought death into the world that He had intended to be a death and suffering-free zone, a parent losing a child is still not the way it should ever be. Ever.
But… Because it is, He made the ultimate sacrifice, putting Himself into the shoes of every parent who’s ever lost or will lose their precious sons or daughters, so that they will know He understands what they feel and has a special place in His heart for them. He sees their pain, feels it as His own, and is forever joined with them in the fraternity of survivor parents. There is hope because His Son conquered death so that all the lost sons and daughters could know Life.
It’s to that Hope which I cling. Call it a silly coping mechanism or call it the Truth. I’m not forcing a belief, nor am I dismissing the pain. I’m only sharing that this is where I’m finding any remnant of peace in order to begin putting one foot in front of the other again. I don’t know how else to help or what else I could say. I pray that all the beauty and joy of Morgan’s life will find a way to circle back and manifest somehow through her death. A glimpse of that beauty can be seen on her blog: The Flight of My Life by Morgan Smith rocketscientress.wordpress.com
Ashes to ashes, then beauty from ashes. Joy from mourning and heaviness. Amen.