Thursday, November 25, 2010

Always Giving Thanks

A friend and spiritual mentor encouraged me soon after Micah’s death that we need to be thankful in every circumstance. He encouraged us to find reason to be thankful to God as soon as possible. Ephesians 5:19&20 says, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” I found that encouragement very hard to swallow. It is one thing to give thanks when the sun is shining on your face, and “Mr. Bluebird is whistling on your shoulder.” How could we possibly give thanks for the circumstances surrounding Micah’s death?

In the contemporary version of the “Four Spiritual Laws” booklet produced by Campus Crusade for Christ, the booklet includes an illustration of a train pulling a caboose. The train is entitled “Fact,” and the caboose is entitled, “Feelings.” The booklet stresses the importance of the historical life, death and resurrection of Christ on the cross on our behalf, and to trust in that “fact,” regardless of how we “feel” about the circumstances of our lives. In other words, we must look to the scriptures for promises and to trust in those promises even when we don’t feel like God loves us. We must allow the facts of God’s promises to us in scripture to “pull us through” all of life’s circumstances when we have no reason to believe, based upon our circumstances alone, of God’s great promises for us in Christ Jesus.

Last year, on Thanksgiving Day, Heather agreed, on purpose, to work at the Hospital all day. I went to the cemetery and then posted some thoughts entitled, “Thankful for the Living Hope,” in which I expressed thankfulness for our future hope, through Jesus Christ, in the resurrection of our deceased son Micah. But with regard to our particular circumstances, I didn’t particularly feel much like celebrating. Our circumstances didn’t lend themselves to allowing the “caboose” of feelings pull our faith. Our long-awaited son had died that summer, and now we were left on our first holiday without him. God had seemingly answered our prayers for a child with Micah, and then, very suddenly, took him away under tragic circumstances.

On this Thanksgiving Day, I am amazed and thankful for what God has done since I wrote that post last year on Thanksgiving Day. We’ve gone through the myriad of emotions accompanying a sudden death—shock, avoidance, despair, depression, and anger. We have maintained a faith in the goodness of God by focusing on the “facts” of God’s sovereignty, His goodness, His mercy and His love.

This year, from an emotional perspective, we have seen a gradual turning (or returning) of joy in our life. Particularly in the birth of our second son, Owen, we have had occasion for our home to be full of laughter, smiles, and baby sounds once again. This Thanksgiving Day, we continue to be thankful for the same things we were thankful for last year, namely, the goodness and mercy of God demonstrated to us through Christ. But in addition to being grateful for these eternal promises, we are also thankful this year for our new son, Owen. We are thankful for how God has maintained and strengthened our marriage. We are thankful for a family who has supported us in our grieving. We are thankful for friends like you who have loved and supported us so well. On behalf of Heather, Owen and I, Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, and may you be able to “give thanks in all circumstances,” whether those circumstances easily lend themselves to praising God, or because of your hope, that through Christ, we will someday be grateful for what God has done in and through more difficult circumstances.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thanks Friends

In 2 Corinthians 1:3-5, Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.”

Over the past 15 months, Heather and I have experienced great sufferings. Our world has been turned upside down; there is no adequate description for the grief that accompanies the sudden death of your oldest son. In many ways, we’ve lost our lives. We have lost our hopes and dreams. While we have much joy in our second son, Owen, we have not “moved on” from the death of our oldest son, Micah. We have, and will always have, a hole in our family; that hole in our lives, that spot at the dinner table, that empty bedroom, will always be there, this side of Heaven. It will not be filled until the day when we see Micah again in Heaven. We will not be healed from our suffering until we see Jesus and Micah.

But just as we have experienced great suffering by reason of Micah’s death, we have also been greatly comforted by all of you. God has graciously provided the love and support of family members and friends, both old and new, who have been vessels of God’s comfort to us. We have received the comfort of God through you, friends and family. And for that, we are so grateful.

As many of you know, we decided to create the Micah Wessman Foundation to try to comfort those who are in the affliction of the death of a child. We are using the same ways in which God comforted us, through you, to attempt to comfort others. When we hear about the death of a child, we have been sending care packages to the parents. The care packages are currently comprised of two books on grieving, written from a Christian perspective, as well as gift cards to local restaurants. The care package also includes information on a scholarship offer we have with Smile Again Ministries in Brainerd. In the near future, we plan to add a third book as well as contact information for local Christian grief groups and counselors.

Heather and I have come to think that our efforts in creating this little ministry has become inseparable from the way that we grieve. In other words, we grieve our son's death through the actions we take in helping comfort others. We think that it is good for us to grieve in this way, and we thank you for your many financial gifts and the many other ways in which you have encouraged us to minister in this way.

We would ask that you help us in this ministry be making us aware of any families who have lost young children. By word of mouth alone, we have been put in touch with approximatley 14 families over the past year who have lost young children and experienced a stillborn death. It has been our priviledge to pass along care packages to these families. We have also provided 2 scholarships to Smile Again Ministries. This next year, our goal is to create a professional website to include some of the writings from my blog as well as numerous links and resources for grieving parents. Through the website and the traffic we hope to generate, we hope to significantly increase the number of care packages sent over the next year.

Thanks again for all of your support. We have shared abundantly in Christ's comfort through you, and for that we are so grateful.