A little over a month ago I wrote this as I was processing attending the burial of a 19 year old young man, the first burial Kevin and I had been to since burying our own children… in the same cemetery. The cemetery was a holy and sacred place that day.
Where to begin? What to say? Today I stood before the casket of a 19 year old young man and watched as his parents, brother and sisters, countless family and friends shed tears of longing, sadness and hope. We grieved and looked to the Lord for hope only He could bring. I had only met him a few times a few years ago, but I knew his parents. And I shed tears for them, and have shed tears since because in a small way I knew the pain of sitting before the casket of your child, barely able to breathe and comprehend this moment that never would you have fathomed would be written into your story. I would not have written this moment, twice into our story and I would not have written this moment into their story. A son, a brother, a friend should not have been buried today. Too young. Too soon. And yet he was. I should not have had to bury two daughters, having only experienced their life for mere moments and yet I did. What should not have been was, what should not be is. And yet today, two things I recalled to mind, or perhaps better said… Jesus recalled to my mind.
His grace IS sufficient. All I could think of as my heart filled with pain for this family was a recollection that in the darkest moments of my own experience, His grace was sufficient, is sufficient, is ENOUGH. This free, undeserved gift of His grace. What we get because of simply who He is, is enough. And somehow, it has become enough for me. A tender, merciful grace that has continued to bring freedom to my broken heart. Freedom to bring my broken self to the foot of the cross and see the pain etched on His face meet the pain etched on my face. Freedom to bring my broken self to the tomb, the empty tomb and see His resurrection power and hope resurrect my hope. Freedom to bring my tears, laughter, groan, joy, heartache and experience to a Savior who meets us in the moments we are aware, brutally aware of the nothing we have to give and the everything we have to receive. And this is where his grace meets us, where we know the beauty of his grace. Today, I saw that beauty. I saw it in my own life as I reflected on the moments I stood before my own daughters’ caskets and tears rolled as I watched another mother stand before her son’s casket. And though I only know my pain and can’t begin to know her pain… the grace in that moment was a thankful heart that I could weep with this family because of the pain of this moment I had tasted as well. Thankful that this story, I would have never written for my life, now enables me to step into the pages of another’s unwelcome chapter in their story, with greater empathy, greater grace and enter in the groan of all creation with another.
And this is the second thing He recalled to mind. That this grief, this recognizing with fists in the air that death, though a part of life, was not supposed to be a part of life is a part of the groan of all creation. This grief, a reflection of Paul’s words in Romans 8; “The whole earth is groaning as in the pains of childbirth… and we also, longing, waiting, anticipating, the redemption not just of our souls, but of our bodies.” No, it shouldn’t be this way. A mother, a father, shouldn’t stand before the casket of their baby girls… twice. A family shouldn’t sit before the casket of a brother, a son, a friend and know that this box carrying his body would be soon lowered into the ground. From dust to dust, ashes to ashes was not what we were created for. And yet, what shouldn’t be is. But thanks be to God, death doesn’t have the final say, but ushers us into not what shouldn’t be, but what was always supposed to be for those who know Him.
Today I felt the groan. I felt the groan as I watched a family say good-bye to a 19 year old young man. And I felt the groan as my husband and I walked a short distance from his burial site to our daughter’s burial sites. I was reminded that the breath that cries “this should not be” is the groan that points to the day when all that was meant to be, IS. It will not always be this way. One day, the aches of this life will give way to a glory like we have never seen. And as we embrace the groan, and what it points to we will be in even greater awe at the redemption Jesus brings in the here and the not yet. And as a mother sits in the euphoria of a new life in her arms, forgetting the pain that was just hers, so we will sit in the euphoria of new life restored and the groans of the life will pale in comparison to the glories that will be revealed to us.
This plot of land was sacred and holy ground today. For the same breath that accentuated the ache of our hearts, accentuated the unfathomable hope of Christ. It shouldn’t be this way. And one day, it won’t be.