This is what it felt like being separated from my boys for just two weeks back when they were 6, 9, and 11.
Tristan has been gone to heaven for 425 days now and I think about what a reunion with him will look like. I always picture tears in that reunion.
I’ve never been so happy to read about tears in my life. It just so happens that I’m going through Jacobs’s story in Genesis 37-48. Instead of thinking of Jacob as a bible character, I thought of him as a real dad. He doesn’t get back the boy he doted on. He gets back a bloody coat. He’s told his boy became prey. And I’ve been taking note of things in his mourning…
Jacob Mourned Like Us
34 Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him.
I get that. Don’t bother trying to comfort me. I’m going to grieve until I die.
26 And they told him, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
I get that too. I’ve been numb and the only way I could revive would be to see Tristan again. After I did, I could die happy.
29 Then Joseph prepared his chariot and went up to meet Israel his father in Goshen. He presented himself to him and fell on his neck and wept on his neck a good while.30 Israel said to Joseph,“Now let me die, since I have seen your face and know that you are still alive.”
Weeping a Good Long While
When father and son finally meet in person, after all those years, they fall on each other’s necks and weep a good while. I love how they say, “a good while”. Won’t it be that way for us? Won’t all of our pent-up longing and torment be released when we see them again?
We’ll weep for all the years we lost, weep for knowing they’re whole and healed, weep for all the goodness God accomplished through their life, and for the realization that now there’s no more longing because we are together.
It just feels right to think of our reunion that way. But I kept getting stuck on…
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
Then Randy Alcorn pointed out that this verse refers to the eternal Heaven after the heavens and earth have been made new. Using scripture, Randy points out that right now our child is in (for lack of a better term) the “present” heaven. He explains this concept here: Is There Sorrow in the Present Heaven?
Based on scripture, not wishful thinking, that totally leaves room for falling on Tristan’s neck and weeping. I’ve never been happier to know weeping is possible.
Don’t Feel Bad for Feeling Bad
Just as a side note, this passage also teaches us not to feel bad for feeling bad. Look at Jacob here. He is the man God chose to name His people after, Jacob, now Israel, and from him came the 12 tribes. He is mentioned everywhere in the redemption story. Isreal this, Israel that, Jacob, Jacob, Jacob. And the summation of Jacob’s life in his own words?
” …Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.”
A super important person in God’s redemptive plan was NOT immune to intense suffering and grief. I get this guy. Once you’ve had a child loss your years do seem “few and evil”. But notice how he uses the word “sojourning”. He knows this earth isn’t his home. His real home is with His God.
It’s a cursed earth we live on. And Jacob groaned for its redemption, as we groan with all creation for redemption. And we wait for the day we can fall on our children’s neck and Jesus’s neck, and weep for joy.
Dear God, thank you for showing me what is possible in my reunion with Tristan. Only you truly know what it will look like, and it will be better than what I can only imagine. Please let there be “falling on his neck and weeping a long while” because that’s the only way I feel I can release all the emotions I have saved up for him. Thank you for taking care of my son. And thank you for knowing I am but dust and being gentle with me when I should long for YOU more than my son. I do. It’s just so raw right now. Save me from myself. In Jesus’ name, Amen.