A Grief Revisited

Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of the day our sixth baby, Duncan, “flew away home” to Heaven. Oddly enough, his birthday on July 2 hit me harder than yesterday did. I thought it must be that one end of the “anniversary weeks” is more difficult than the other, if that makes sense—but then this morning was Bible study, complete with one of the recorded sections from Beth Moore, which almost invariably means the Lord touching me very deeply somewhere I don’t really want to be touched.

This section was taken from Genesis 45, where Judah begs Joseph—not knowing who he is, of course—not to send them all home without Benjamin, to take him instead, because losing another favored son would surely kill his father. You have to carefully read the previous chapters to get the full import of this … Judah was the one who argued for selling Joseph into slavery instead of killing him, and then was apparently so affected by Jacob’s intense, relentless grief over Joseph’s loss that he moved away from the rest of the family for several years—something people did only under extreme circumstances in those days. (It was dangerous to live where you didn’t have a community around you.) And Joseph himself is so moved by Judah’s plea on Benjamin’s behalf—really, for Jacob—that it is at this moment that he breaks down and reveals his true identity to his brothers.

His brothers, naturally, are terrified. They’ve come to Egypt to buy grain and have found themselves the victim of an elaborate mind game devised by Joseph, some commentators believe to test them, through two different visits. They’re sure now that Joseph means to exact an even greater retribution for what they did to him. But instead he tells them, “Don’t be upset over this any more! God planned this—so that I would be here to provide for all of you during this time.” Beth Moore says, “Joseph framed the entire picture in the sovereignty of God. It was their only hope of healing.”

Can you imagine? How Joseph could say that—and how it relates to us, how even the awful things that happen to us are redeemable in the grand scheme of things.

When thinking about writing this piece, before going to the study this morning, I had that verse from Romans going through my head—“and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.”

All things.

ALL things.

One of the most beautiful aspects of belonging to God, in my opinion, is this very principle—that nothing is irredeemable, however horrible, and whether on this side of the veil or the other, we’ll see how it all gets woven together to form the magnificent tapestry that is Life.

Sometimes we get a glimpse of it here—like in the case of the “loss” of our baby seven years ago. I was explaining to my almost-16-year-old son, who couldn’t quite understand why after all this time I’d be in tears at visiting Duncan’s gravesite on his birthday (while we were back in Missouri). As he pointed out, Duncan’s with God, rejoicing, beyond all pain and sorrow. I explained to him that I know full well our tears are for ourselves, but for me personally, it goes a bit beyond that. Costly are the lessons Troy and I learned through that experience. The shock of losing a child was what woke us up to the need to truly cherish our other children and each other. It isn’t a stretch to say that it saved our marriage.

I told my oldest, may he never get so mired in complacency—or anything else—that the Lord has to use such severe circumstances to yank him out of it.

And yet—even if he does, my prayer is that he discovers God’s redeeming grace through it all, as his dad and I have.

Grace like rain
Falls down on me
All my stains
Are washed away
Are washed away
(Todd Agnew)


  1. WOW! What godly insight. This is a great post, Shannon. Your son and his brothers and sisters are blessed to be able to glean from your wisdom.

    May God's comfort continue to be yours.



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