The call came in the evening, the day before Thanksgiving.
A son, loved and cherished — I can still picture him — laughing, reading, loving, eating spaghetti — dead in Afghanistan.
No, I thought, it cannot be. I’ve known him since his early teen years. He’s the son of a friend so close I consider her a sister.
No, I thought, this cannot be. This goes beyond ‘grieve,’ beyond ‘mourn,’ especially for a mom, dad and brother left here without him. The bottom of the world seems to have fallen to indescribable depths and taken them with it.
Comfort? What? How can that be, when you’ve lost ‘what is most dear to you?’ I have just now come to the point where I can write about it, and I’m not his mom, dad or brother.
His name was — and is — Jacob. His loss has left a huge hole in a wonderfully close family — a loving, stick-by-each-other kind of family that seems all too rare these days. You see, Jacob’s family is a perfect illustration of the incredible stick-to-it nature of God’s embrace. Good times, bad times, moving all over the place, in heaven, on earth — it doesn’t matter, they’re family.
Here’s what I believe that God, through Jesus, is saying here: We cannot fall beneath God’s embrace. Let me say that again. We cannot fall beneath God’s embrace!
Let these words from Matthew, chapter 5, verse 4 sift through your thoughts for a moment:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (New Revised Standard Version)
“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.” (The Message Version)
Even when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you (like a son, daughter, brother, sister, spouse, your health, you name it), you are wrapped tight in God’s eternal embrace.
And here’s another thing: God is tenacious! God gave it all in Jesus the Christ. God holds nothing back. God hangs on to that heavenly embrace through our pain, loss, rebellion, anger, fears and griefs. Whatever. All of it. Forever.
Even in grief and mourning, pain and loss — we have something to celebrate. We are anchored in God’s embrace. Come. Celebrate God’s eternal embrace. You can’t fall out of (or beneath) God’s surrounding embrace. We are truly embraced by grace — forever.
Take another moment to think: How have you felt God’s embrace in your own hard times? Perhaps it was just a feeling you had – one of being not alone, wrapped in God’s presence, or strengthened by His powerful grace.
Here’s another thing to think about, and put into action: God uses each of us to remind one another of His embrace. You can be that reminder for someone. Your voice. Your hands and feet. God can (and does) embrace others through you.