Sunday, August 24, 2008

Grieving With Hope

(I wrote this for Luke's committal service last Thursday and read it at his graveside just before we laid him to rest.)

We stand here today...
in a dreadful place
on a dreadful occasion
because of a dreadful loss
We stand here today...
ravaged by grief
our hearts have been trampled
we are wounded and broken
we bleed and we weep
there will be no forgetting, there is no escape
We stand here today...
without the luxury of choice
sinking toward depression
wrestling with despair
brawling with anger
fighting our fears
We stand here today...
more intensely familiar
with death’s lingering stench
more intimately acquainted
with the grave’s vicious sting [1]
more keenly aware
of life’s grass-withering fragility

its flower-fading brevity [2]
We stand here today...
struggling to reconcile
some of the things we believe
holding on tightly to those scarce certainties
we know to be true
asking questions never faced before
none more often than ‘Why?’
except for ‘How?’
in this world do we go on
We stand here today...
forever changed
never again the same
in some ways, bad
in all ways, eventually good
We stand here today...
beaten and battered
but not totally crushed
bewildered and confused
but not surrendering to our despair
and though there are questions aplenty
we have not been forsaken
and we are not destroyed [3]
We stand here today...
having limped to this place
our hearts overwhelmed with sadness
over the profound loss of our precious Lukey
our minds filled with wonder
at what might have been
our souls buoyed with a new-found longing
for that place we call home
We stand here today...
reminded anew
that our soul’s constant hunger
its unrelenting thirst
its persistent longings
its empty yearnings
will never be fully satisfied
‘til Christ’s promised return
We stand here today...
in a beautiful place
with all of Creation
as it raises both chorus and groan [4]
of praise and of ache
up to the heavens, to the Father above
for who He is, for what is to come
We stand here today...
in an expectant place
for from this very spot
our ‘Little Man’ will rise [5]
when Jesus comes calling
oh what a beautiful thought
Maranatha, come Lord Jesus, come even now [6]
We stand here today...
bolstered by grace
our hearts have been strengthened
in mysterious ways
We stand here today...
grieving with hope
for we are not among those

who have nothing to look forward to [7]


[1] 1 Corinthians 15:55
[2] Isaiah 40:7-8
[3] 2 Corinthians 4:8-9
[4] Psalm 148; Romans 8:22
[5] Prior to Luke's service, my friend and mentor, Clayton Blackstone, shared this thought with me. It's a thought that had not crossed my mind before. It's a thought that illustrates well the hope aspect of "Grieving With Hope." It's a thought shared about one year ago by Clayton's brother-in-law, Phil, at the funeral of his wife Tammy, who lost her life in a tragic and senseless traffic accident. I've inserted a portion of Phil's comments below from what he spoke at Tammy's funeral.
“So this is where it’s going to happen.”
This is where the casket and vault we seal today will burst forth with explosive, uncontrollable, unstoppable force.
This is where Tammy’s faith will become sight.
This is where she will rise to meet her Lord in the air.
This is where her doubts will be erased.
This is where her questions will be answered.
This is where every promise in Scripture will come true.
This is where every hope and dream will be fulfilled.
This is where sorrow and sadness will become a thing of the past.
This is where Christ’s victory will triumph over death and dying.
This is where Tammy will exchange her mortality for immortality and her corruptible nature for an incorruptible one.
This is where unending life will begin.
This is where my bride will rise with the gathered saints and the Church will be joined with her Bridegroom as He descends through the clouds.
This is where the woman, whom I’ve loved and strived to make happy, will experience “unspeakable and full of glory” joy.
This is where she will hear the heavenly invitation, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into My Kingdom.”
Yes! Yes! A symphony of yeses! This “sleeping place” will one day become the most beautiful place in the world.

[6] Revelation 22:20
[7] 1 Thessalonians 4:13, The Message


Heidi said...

Those are such beautiful words. We have been lifting you up in prayer, especially this week, Greg, Nicol, and Summer. We hope you are finding gaps in the pain that fill you with hope and peace. Much love to you!

Skerry said...

You & your family have been in my thoughts and prayers this past week. Thank you for sharing the words you spoke at Luke's service. They are beautiful and fitting for such a beautiful and loved boy. I can only imagine the joy you all will experience when you see him in heaven one day. I believe that Jesus was waiting for him with arms opened wide.
On a personal note, my Grandmother died 4 yrs ago, she was a good and faithful servant of God. In trying to ease my own Mother's sadness at losing her Mother, I had a clear image in my head that I shared with her. My Grandfather had died 40 yrs before my Grandmother, she never remarried and her wedding band was on her finger when she died. I told her I could just see my Grandfather (who I never met) greeting my Grandmother after Jesus, saying to her "I've been waiting for you, let me show you around". I believe that after Jesus greets each of you in heaven that Luke will be right there to give you the grand tour.
Keeping you in my continued thoughts and prayers.

Traci said...

Greg, Nicole, and Summer-
Although we don't know each other, we are brothers and sisters in Christ that are here praying for you...praying for peace to surpass all understanding. Praying for comfort and for you to feel the Lords presence and his arms imbrace you. We are thinking of you and praying for you through this devastating loss. You're little Luke is safe in heaven now and your souls will forever be dancing together.

Traci said...

Greg, Nicol, and Summer-
Although we don't know each other, we are brothers and sisters in Christ that are here praying for you...praying for peace to surpass all understanding. Praying for comfort and for you to feel the Lords presence and his arms imbrace you. We are thinking of you and praying for you through this devastating loss. You're little Luke is safe in heaven now and your souls will forever be dancing together.

Anonymous said...

Crying on my laptop and praying for your family.

Vanessa (Ontario, Canada)

Tippa Glover said...

Praying for you all tonight.

Still Cross Photography said...

There are no words at this time, just know that we are all continually praying for you and your family. Our God is a good God, He allows us to suffer for reasons unknown, for reasons that make no sense and for periods of time that seem never ending. Your strength and courage as well as Todd and Angie's throughout your storms shows how strong God is in our lives. Thank you again for helping us help you.

Kristin said...

How absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing the hope of our Savior even through your unimaginable grief. My prayers continue to be with you.
Kristin in South Dakota

Kristy said...

So beautiful - and so heartbreaking - knowing just a glimpse of your pain. You and your family are daily in my prayers.

Jennifer said...

I'm speechless...I'm not quite sure what to say. However, I do believe that God will turn your ashes into radiant beauty. I am so thankful we serve a risen Savior; therefore, we have hope. I continue to pray that Jesus will carry you and hold you close and that He will continue to give you the strength, comfort and peace.

In Christ,
The Evans family

Susan NiƱo said...

Wow--what you wrote and shared at Luke's service was beautiful, honest and peace filled. My best friend from college lost her 7 1/2 month old to SIDS on June 5. So, they are grieving as well and I have shared your blog with her in hopes it can help them. When Logan died, I sent Debra Angie's blog and that is the time we learned of Luke's passing. And sweet Angie emailed Debra a few times that weekend. If you and Nicol would be willing to communicate with Debra and John (they live in the Kansas City area) please let me know and I will email you their info. Thank you for sharing everything on this blog. You are all in my prayers and I pray for a new normal.

Cindy said...

Heart wrenching yet comforting words. Praying for you continually.

Tasha said...

I don't even have words.That was just beautiful.I pray that in the coming days you will have renewed strength.I also am praying that God would allow me to carry some of your grief.I would love to meet your family someday.If not in this lifetime then for sure in heaven.What a day that will be!With much love~Tasha in Indiana

Anonymous said...

I just finished listening to Steven Curtis Chapman's interview with James Dobson (Pt.1), and then I came to check out my blogs that I read. I have been praying for you and baby Audrey's family since coming upon your blogs. I guess what struck me today personally was that I have been dealing with grief-losing my father, then mother, then last year my best friend-and in a few short months, God has laid on my heart three other families that have suffered the ultimate loss of their children. Because you all are so high profile, I have been able to read your feelings, your words of hope, and in turn, have been able to process my grief better. I won't say its all peachy-keen, but I am gaining a better insight into the Master's plan by what you share, what Nicole shares, and what SCC shares as well. Thank you for the opportunity to pray for you and cry with you."There is a place, by God's grace, theres a place where we'll see your face, once again"~Because of Him~Lynne

erin said...

Your words are beautiful. I continue to pray for peace for all of you.

sheila said...

The words you spoke were beautiful. I have thought of you and Nicole often over the weekend and will continue to hold you in prayer. May the darkness not seem quite so dark and the emptiness not so empty. In God's Gracious Love, sheila

rthling said...

Thinking of you.
Crying for you.
Praying for you.

Angie said...

I am at a loss for words, which is not like me. I don't know what to say to comfort you at the horrible time. But please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Hi Greg and Nicol,
You likely will not remember me as I started my Moody career just as Greg was entering the home stretch. But in the interactions that we had I will always remember the kindess and graciousness that you bestowed to each and every person that you encountered. I pray that God would continue to surround you with people who will love and support you in the way that you have done for others.

I am grieving with you for your precious son Luke, but still I too rejoice in the fact that we can sink into our grief with hope. Praise the Lord that this world is not the end for us.

You are loved,
Dianne (Robbins) Lawless

Heather Anderson said...

I feel so overwhelmed with sadness for your family, but full of hope that your future will be blessed. I love Nicol's song Resurrection and I know that those words must have new meaning for you both now. I hope that God shows you something beautiful out of your suffering.

vaneblu said...

thank for sharing those words with us... I am sure luke is already next to our lord!

georgia tarheel said...

Wow! That was amazing. It will be good one day. It will be amazing one day. It will be worth it, one day.

Until then, we will pray. And pray hard for you.

The Baby Makes 4 said...

I grieve with you.

Mocha with Linda said...

Beautiful words. Even more beautiful the truth that there is hope.

You have been much on my heart these days.

Blessings and hugs to you,

Julie Doody said...

No words, just love & prayers!

Bethany said...

Dear Greg, Nicol and Summer,

Please know that I am praying for you all...your story is heartbreaking but still--filled with hope! I can't wait to meet your Luke on the other side :) He's a special little guy that has made an impact on so many and will no doubt continue to do so.
Love and Prayers,
Bethany in Michigan

The Princess said...

There are no words.

My heart aches for you and your family.

Baseballs and Tutu's said...

My heart aches for you and your entire family. I have thought of you often during this past week. You will remain in my prayers!

Liz Andretta said...

Thank you for your beautiful words and pictures of your family. I have lifted your family up often in my prayers. I know you must hear that a lot, but know that I mean it. I do understand what a strange comfort it is to know the place that will hold your precious loved one until the Lord's return. To see it not like a grave but like a womb, waiting and groaning for the day of our Lord's return. I rejoice with you and weep with you while we wait to know that this life was worth the trials. I want you to know, not for my own sake but as a community of believers, my sweet husband Dan went home to be with Jesus last November. He died in an accident just 7 weeks after we had our second little boy. I still don't understand why or how either. I have talked with your sister about this very question. What I do know is that my hope in Christ continually increases as He strengthens me to make it through today, and that is all He has asked us to do. I pray for a constant filling, mercy new every morning. Strength for today, hope for tomorrow. Keep trusting, He is a God who keeps His promise to comfort those who morn.