I write this post from a position of not having experienced a personal tragedy of the magnitude that would rock the foundations of my faith to the core. In a way, I speak from ignorance, and yet the lives of some of those who have gone before me seem to speak ministration on this issue.
John Calvin lost his wife and son.
John Owen had eleven children. All died in early youth, except one daughter.
Francis Turretin had four children. Only one survived.
More recently, Michael Horton discloses in "A Place for Weakness" how one of his prematurely-born triplets, when older, experienced an accident wherein this elongated toy got jammed down the child's throat. The doctor gave a grim prognosis, but thankfully, the child survived.
As a father, I have often ruminated on the idea of the Lord taking back one of my kids. The same with Him taking back my wife. I have often wondered what my reaction would be. I do not know my heart well enough.
In a way, such thoughts are unwise, for it smacks of the attempt to peer into God's decretive will, and yet it is also wise in that reflection on one's faith, on one's devotion to the Lord, on the depth of one's love for Him, at the time when all is calm, may just be one of the ways in which stability may be had when the storms do come.
There's no minimizing the devastation of losing a family member. Imagining the possibility has often brought me to tears. But should it lead to apostasy? Should it drive one to the despair that leads to destruction? If the Lord Jesus Christ is our treasure, then we should mourn for the loss of a loved one with the passion that is due that love, but then that excruciating pain must be turned sacramental. It should lead us to Christ, whose life and death have redefined "death" for the Christian, with the promise of life forever restored in the future age of glory. Even if we think that the departed is lost by virtue of not being a Christian, our affinity with Christ and His promise of embodied eternal life should prove the stronger tug to renewed rejoicing.
May I love my Lord Jesus Christ more than my wife and children, that I may love them truly while they are here with me in this present age.