Would It Be Okay For Me To Be Angry With God?

It felt like a test—a test of my faith, a test of my convictions, a test of my love for God. Soon, very soon, after I learned that my son had died, I received a message from an old acquaintance. Her intentions were good—she wanted to offer consolation. But her instructions were suspect—she wanted me to rage against God. Paraphrasing one of her favorite authors she said “It’s okay to be angry with God about this. It’s okay to tell …

Grief Should Always Make Us Better

Death is the great interrupter. Death is the great interrupter because, far more often than not, it strikes when it’s least expected. When death comes it invariably interrupts plans, dreams, projects, goals. One author observes how very sad, how very pathetic it is, when a man dies suddenly and we go into his home or his place of business “and see the unfinished things he has left—a letter half written, a book half read, a picture begun but not completed. …

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Our Hearts Smile, Even If Our Faces Do Not

We went to visit Nick on Christmas morning. “Visit Nick”—that’s what we’ve decided to call it when we spend time at his graveside. “Going to the cemetery” focuses on the place, not the person, so is too impersonal, too abstract. “Paying our respects” is another option, but sounds too formal to describe going to the place where our son’s body lies. So we “visit Nick,” just like we did on Christmas morning. We sleep in for a while, then eat …

The Death of My Son and the Birth of My Savior

I expect it’s going to prove a difficult holiday in the Challies home. Christmas is usually our favorite day of the year—one of the few holidays for which we’ve developed distinct family traditions. We get up early so the kids can sort through the trinkets in their stockings; then we pause for a breakfast of bacon, eggs, and croissants; then we open gifts; then we relax for a while before beginning to prepare a feast. We’ve developed this tradition over …

Singing in the Dark

“How are you doing?” I’ve been asked that question countless times since my son went to be with the Lord. I never really know how to answer it. While at that exact moment I might be doing okay, it’s possible that 15 minutes prior I was so overwhelmed with sorrow that I could barely stand. It’s possible that 15 minutes in the future I’ll be reveling in the joy of knowing my son is safely home in heaven. I can …

When All Seems To Be Gain, Plan For Loss

A friend of mine was part of a rapid deployment unit in the military. The task of his division was to be in a perpetual state of readiness, able to be deployed at a moment’s notice. When a need for their services arose, those soldiers were to be geared up, loaded up, and wheels up within hours. Because they could not know when a conflict would arise or what manner of conflict it might be, they had to be prepared …

Goodnight Till Then

“Mr. Challies, we want you to know that we have received Nick into our care. Rest assured that he is in the very best of hands.” The message comes as a relief, for it means that Nick’s long, last, lonely journey is complete. Even if he can’t come home, he has at least arrived back in his own country, back in his own town. It is not as we hoped. It is not as we imagined. But it is as …

I Fear God, and I’m Afraid of God

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Not only that, but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of the Christian life. The Bible makes it clear that to love God, to honor God, to obey God, we must fear God. But “fear” is a word with many dimensions, many definitions. In what ways are we to fear God? Much of what I know about fearing God I learned from R.C. Sproul. Looking back to Luther, …

A Family Update Four Weeks After Our Worst Day

We are okay. At least, I think we are. To be honest, I don’t really know how to judge that, or even what it really means. But I think it’s true. We’re badly broken, but somehow okay. It was four weeks ago, on a Tuesday evening, that we received a flurry of terrifying text messages, then waited through a brutal silence, then got the dreaded phone call—our Nick had collapsed, had been rushed to hospital, but had been beyond the …

Nick Challies (March 5, 2000 – November 3, 2020)

Nicholas Paul Challies was born at Hamilton’s McMaster Hospital on March 5, 2000. He was a trailblazer of sorts: The first child to Tim and Aileen; the first grandchild to Mike, Marg, John, and Barbara; the first nephew to Andrew, Maryanne, Emily, Susanna, and Grace. When Nick was just a few months old his family settled in Oakville where they were joined by Abby in 2002 and Michaela in 2006. Nick attended Falgarwood Public School, then Munn’s Public School, and …