In the relatively early days following Nick’s death, I understood that I would face a number of temptations—the temptation to sink into unremitting despair, the temptation to descend into self-pity, or the temptation to charge God with wrong. I knew also that God was calling me to carry a deep sorrow for a long time and that I could grow weary of it and then act out in ungodly ways. For that reason I soon found myself writing a kind of manifesto, a declaration that I would read often and hold myself accountable to. I am sharing it today in case others may find it helpful as they are called upon to suffer in their own ways. Perhaps it can give you ideas or words that you can adopt as your own as you attempt to be faithful in even the most difficult of circumstances. (This manifesto is chapter 9 of Seasons of Sorrow.)
By faith I will accept Nick’s death as God’s will, and by faith accept that God’s will is always good. By faith I will be at peace with Providence, and by faith at peace with its every decree. By faith I will praise God in the taking as I did in the giving, and by faith receive from his hand this sorrow as I have so many joys. I will grieve but not grumble, mourn but not murmur, weep but not whine.
Though I will be scarred by Nick’s death, I will not be defined by it. Though it will always be part of my story, it will never become my identity. I will be forever thankful that God gave me a son and never resentful that he called him home. My joy in having loved Nick will be greater than my grief in having lost him. I will not waver in my faith, nor abandon my hope, nor revoke my love. I will not charge God with wrong.
I will receive this trial as a responsibility to steward, not a punishment to endure. I will look for God’s smile in it rather than his frown, listen for his words of blessing rather than his voice of rebuke. This sorrow will not make me angry or bitter, nor cause me to act out in rebellion or indignation. Rather, it will make me kinder and gentler, more patient and loving, more compassionate and sympathetic. It will loose my heart from the things of earth and fix it on the things of heaven. The loss of my son will make me more like God’s Son, my sorrow like the Man of Sorrows.
I will continue to love God and trust him, continue to pursue God and enjoy him, continue to worship God and boast of his many mercies. I will look with longing to the day of Christ’s return and with expectation to the day of resurrection. I will remain steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. I will forget what lies behind and strain forward to what lies ahead, always pressing on toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I will lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely and run with endurance the race that is set before me, looking always to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of my faith. I will remain faithful until I have fought the good fight and finished the race and kept the faith. I will die as I have lived—a follower of Jesus Christ. Then, by grace, I will go to be with Jesus, and go to be with Nick.
This is my manifesto.
(For similar writing, please consider reading my book Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God)