Thursday, July 20, 2017

When You Lose a Son

A friend of mine just lost his high school grandson from suicide. He had been troubled for a long time but nobody knew that this would happen. Someone said of another's suicide: "he died of sadness." I have said that the depression which brings on suicide is like cancer--it gets hold of someone and they see no way out. But for the young to do this just as life is starting out seems doubly sad.

I wrote my friend today and said I want to recommend a sermon Bill Coffin once preached at Riverside after his son died in an auto accident. The sermon is splendid and has helped a great many people.

Also I recommended two books which I know a lot of people have found helpful. The first is by Nicholas Wolterstorff, who taught (or teaches) at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The book is named, Lament for a Son and tells the sad story of Nicholas' 25 year old son, Eric who died in a mountain-climbing accident. Henri Nouwen once wrote of this book: "Wolsterstorff helps open the flood-gates for those who cannot articulate their pain...This little book is a true gift to those who grieve..."

The second book is Richard Lischer's, Stations of the Heart. He has taught for over thirty years at Duke Divinity School. This book is about his son, Adam's bout with cancer. Here we find the story of one last summer and the young man who lived it as honestly and faithfully as possible. This is an unforgettable book about life and death and the terrible blessing of saying good-bye.

Wolsterstorff's Benediction at his son's funeral is worth pondering.

"When we were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, we were baptized into his death and buried with him, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. Those who believe in him, though they die, yet shall they live."

His Benediction closed with these words:

"Into your tender hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your beloved servant, Eric. Acknowledge, we pray you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your abiding mercy, into the rest of your everlasting peace, into the glorious company of those who dwell in your light. And may your kingdom of peace come quickly."

Enough said.

--Roger Lovette /

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