Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Mine for a Little While"

Every dad understands that one of life's biggest joys is when he holds his child for the first time. It is then when you look into the face of pure innocence, complete trust and love, and life is changed -- forever. You are holding the promise of the future, and the future is nothing but secure, knowing your child is in the world. Your mind fills with peace and the prospect of a lifetime of father-child activities, and then your little one lets forth with a mighty cry. You stand helpless, wondering how such a tiny human being can produce ear-splitting sounds, without the aid of an amplifier. With this baby's cry, you immediately seek to comfort, protect and quiet your child. Thus begins your life with your child. It will be filled with times of wonderment, as you walk that fine line between giving your child freedom, without losing control, so no harm befalls him or her.

One of the biggest trials of fatherhood is letting your child go. From your son's first day of kindergarten to the day your daughter gets married and then begins having her own children, each milestone brings a parting -- a bittersweet separation. Such separations are good and right, but they still leave a scar on the heart.

Difficult as the above events are in the lives of fathers, none is so devastating as the death of a child.

This past week I stood alongside a close friend as we celebrated his daughter's heavenly reunion. Being there I could only imagine his pain, his overwhelming hurt. We sat together and talked about many things and yet nothing in particular -- afraid a prolonged silence might sharpen the pain.

Many questions, too few answers, but one very important fact emerged: his daughter was at peace in heaven. He was comforted in a major way, knowing his daughter no longer faced her daily pain, no longer struggled with her cancer, no longer had to fight for life; she could literally rest in heavenly peace.

Men, I pray you never have to stand at the side of your child's grave but, if you do, I pray you know the comfort that your child rests in heaven.

Through the grief of losing his daughter, my friend summed up his situation in a powerful way: "I thank God she was mine for a little while. I thank God she is His forever."

Lutheran Hour Ministries offers resources for those who mourn: consider the Project Connect booklet, What Happens When I Die as well as others on this topic. You can check out the list at the Project Connect website. There's also a new Men's NetWork Bible study that addresses the end of life: Death ... Then What?.

These materials are free to those who need them. They offer words of encouragement and biblical insight when life deals its toughest blows. Both our topical booklets and Bible studies are excellent tools to share with those facing life-death issues.

Sometimes it's an opportune word from an unexpected source that can make all the difference.

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