Tristan’s Painting is Not Finished Yet  (painting on the Chateauguay river)

Sometimes when I’m reading a book that’s supposed to help me in my grief I end up saying in my head “yada-yada-yada, I’ve heard this before. Give me something that’s going to help with the loss of my dead son.”

Psalm 31 did help me. And it struck me that the word for “know” in Hebrew is “yada”. It says God knows us.

Let’s see how well He knows someone who has lost a child…

“…You have seen my affliction; You have known the distress of my soul…my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my affliction and my bones waste away.” (vs. 9,10)

My bones never wasted away until Tristan died. Now I know what these verses mean because I’ve lived them.

“…I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors…an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have been forgotten like one who is dead;” (vs. 11,12)

Some people avoid me.  Some previously close friends have fled. And sometimes I feel as forgotten by people as Tristan seems to be.

God proves He knows me by describing my grief and depicting my child-loss life. And then He caps it all off with who I became the day Tristan died…

“I have become like a broken vessel.” (v 12)

What used to hold water and be useful was broken on the floor. Broken vessels can’t be their once useful self. Broken vessels can’t do what they used to do.

But I know the truth about what God does with broken vessels. The truth is, we are all broken vessels. Parents with child loss just live in that reality.

God preserved these descriptions in scripture so that we could have no doubt that He knows us, that He “gets it”. And He doesn’t leave us there. He sends us a lifeline in the verses that follow…

“Into your hand, I commit my spirit” (v.5) These are the very words used by Christ. All was darkest and all was lost to those observing Christ when He uttered that phrase on the cross. BUT God was doing a greater work than they could perceive. His masterpiece was midstroke.

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “you are my God.” My times are in your hand;” (v. 14,15)

Not only is God in charge of our canvas, but He’s in charge of our times. Even those of sorrow and trauma. Even when I had the thought to get up and check on my son, but God pressed upon me to stay in bed and pray for him instead. God was in charge of that time. And that was the difference between life and death for Tristan.

“But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help” (v. 22b)  That night I did cry to God for mercy and help. I begged Him to take Tristan’s pain and give it to me so he could live a free and happy life.

I had no idea how God would answer that prayer. I would never have prayed, “God, take my son to heaven”.  I was just praying, “take his pain and give it to me.” But the God who knows all things gave me the privilege of praying for Tristan unto his dying breath.   “My times are in your hand;”

After showing us that each stroke of the canvas is in His hands, God gives us a call to action- “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord!” (v.24)  Jesus said “take heart” so many times to His 12 best friends. He knew they would have a lot of anxious waiting to do after they saw Him tortured on the cross.  As sure as Christ’s portrait didn’t end there, God is not finished with our children yet. God makes works of art, not unfinished sketches.

We will all be amazed when we see what God has wrought through our children and our undying love for them as parents. Take heart! Keep calling out! And be assured, He knows exactly the way you feel.