* For all those who have suffered deep loss and question why…Even if you haven’t had a chance to get to know Jesus like I did as a young child, God is in the business of redemption and I’ve seen God catch up many people in time lost with Him.
A few times in the last nine years, people said they were amazed that I can be at peace with our son’s death, and not struggle with answers to prayers for healing for other people.
The first thing I tell them is that I am not strong and daily, sometimes moment by moment, need to close my eyes, take a deep breath and ask Jesus to fill me with his healing love and power to make it through all the ramifications of our son’s death. However, when looking at the difficult question of why some people are healed on earth and some are healed in Heaven, I have these thoughts.
The answer is simple when you know God well and His ultimate plans for us. – Our faith.
The answer is complicated when you throw human emotions and desires into the mix. – Our humanity.
So how did I awkwardly traverse this emotional dilemma?
What helped me travel the road of grief was to spend time getting to know God and His plans, which started for me in 1971. When I was in the third grade, I met a family who had lost a child at a young age. I listened to Mrs. Childs explain to my mom how Jesus had helped them through his illness and death and how they trusted they would see him again one day.
At that young age, I immediately said in my mind, not “if” but, “When I lose a child, I want to be like Mrs. Childs with my eyes on Jesus.” It was then I knew I’d lose a child one day! Why God decided to prepare me at such a young age, I don’t know. However, this epiphany started a long journey of being obsessed with reading my Bible, reading books on Heaven, watching other grieving parents, and getting to know my God who loved me so much He gave His Son to die for my sins. From my life experiences with God, others’ examples, and reading as much as I could, I knew He wouldn’t allow me to go through any terrible crisis alone. He would be there with me on earth and with my child in Heaven.
So, nine years ago today, when Taylor drowned in the Boise River, I knew Jesus reached down into the water with His hand to lead our son to the most beautiful place in the universe, with Him. Taylor was truly in a better place, and I had peace in my excruciating pain. When I struggle with his death, I go back to the image of him holding Jesus’ hand walking over the waves of the river, or of him dancing around the throne of God in worship, or him resting beside some Heavenly river.
A few months after Taylor went to Heaven, one of my junior high worship team students begged us to sing Oceans by Matt Crocker, Joel Houston and Salomon Ligthelm. I knew the song and didn’t think I could get through it without crying deeply. My students were already used to me crying when talking about God or Taylor, so seeing Emily’s eagerness to sing this song, I let it go to the students and they took off with it. We sang it for months and each phrase of those lyrics were a gentle balm of healing to my heart, taking my trust in Taylor’s Creator to a deeper level. I could envision Jesus lifting him out of the water with Taylor singing in his struggle,
“You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine…”
This is not to say the human side of me and the pain it has brought our family has not been miserable. Watching my husband and other children suffer from this lost has been as painful as Taylor’s death. My heart felt stabbed and twisted with a knife when our eldest son had to tell us Taylor was gone. There were a couple years of searing pain missing him, and now it gently aches today typing those words with the common soft tears that still flow, but I’ve learned that joy and sorrow can dance together, and we can be content on earth when God chooses to heal on earth or in Heaven. He is God and I am not.
Three days after his death, one of his friends asked if we could lay hands on his body and go before God to ask for Taylor to be resurrected like Lazarus, so we did. I was hopeful but doubtful knowing that God had been preparing me for his death for 41 years. However, in that prayer time, our family and Taylor’s wife and friends committed to glorify God in a miracle of resurrection or trust Him if He chose, instead, to be glorified in our hope with grief should Taylor remain in Heaven. At the end of our allotted time in the funeral home, I felt a deep peace and the hands of the Holy Spirit gently rested on my shoulders whispering to me, “It will be okay.” I knew then that Taylor, being healed in Heaven, was God’s very best for our son and God would walk with us through the mess of grief on Earth.
When our friends and family are healed on earth, we greatly rejoice! We get to have them with us and we know God has great plans for them on this planet. But when they are healed in Heaven, we can still greatly rejoice knowing they have received the best gift of healing in the finest place of all.
Until then, we live as humans, struggling at times with our feet on earth, peaceful in our spirits with eyes on our Heavenly hope.