Psalm 34:18 New International Version (NIV)
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Broken and crushed. These are the words I would use when describing how I felt the weeks and months following my daughter’s passing.
The initial waves of shock and disbelief were the primary force at play, but as time progressed and our reality was redefined, I came to discover that my soul was having a hard time accepting the void and absence left behind by Elizabeth. It’s so surreal to realize that, for the rest of my natural days, I will no longer share in the fellowship of fatherhood with my oldest daughter.
I believe that we as human beings were never meant to experience death. My faith, according to the scriptures, teaches me that God created the world perfect and sinless. It was Adam’s choice in the Garden that sent the world into chaos; it is why we experience death and pain after so many millennia.
The death of the body is a hard thing to reconcile with. It has such an air of finality to it. Death attempts to take with it all the hopes of the future and all the wonderful possibilities.
In my daughter Elizabeth’s case, she took with her a lifetime of moments and experiences. These are opportunities that we will never experience together; birthdays, holidays, college, marriage and grandchildren. Death is a robber and a thief. It takes away the uncharted future and unfulfilled dreams.
That is the part that is heavy and crushing to most people. The finality that each and every day post-mortem is empty and void of the deceased person’s physical presence and fellowship.
My life can now be marked by two eras; with Elizabeth and without Elizabeth. My life story has been riddled with the tragic losses of many people that I love, but none have had the impact that her passing has. Elizabeth’s death and the events surrounding it have been a catalyst of epic proportions.
Her death has ignited a passion and fire inside of me greater than I have ever felt before. I’ve drawn a proverbial line in the sand of my life: this will be the last time someone that I love hurts themselves. But it goes further than that. I’ve found myself so hyper-aware of a war that has been raging in the unseen since before Creation. It is a war that has left craters of devastation across the landscape of the human soul and riddled the heart with a thousand bullet holes.
With so many personal casualties of this war in my own family, I’ve discovered that the only way to both survive and overcome is through deep intentional faith in a loving God bigger and wiser than myself.
A God, who has an intimate and yearning desire to love with a love that only a perfect Father can give.
I’ve personally seen and felt the practical application of Psalm 34:18, where David pours out his own heart and so beautifully describes the mercy, power, love and compassion of our eternal God and Father.
The human heart will never be able to truly understand or accept this tragic mystery called death. It is only through the eyes of faith that we are able to not just believe but actually accept that this physical life is not the final chapter; but instead it is just a short verse in the eternal story of our souls.
Because of my faith in Jesus, and in what He accomplished at the cross over 2000 years ago, my inner man is able to see beyond the temporal pain of physical death, and glimpse into the hope of an eternal future. A future bound in the promise of resurrection, restoration and life.
The Lord, through His endless love and compassion, has truly been close to my broken heart and has saved my crushed spirit. Every tear I’ve wept, He has tenderly and lovingly wiped away with the hands of a Father.