I struggle to imagine this. The searing pain of losing a child. Me, who is not a parent. I, who have not born a baby in my womb, labored to give life, nursed at my breast, how can I know how it feels to have that life ripped away? I cannot.
But one of Ricardo's good friends from high school, he knows. His seven year old son, Fabian, died yesterday, leaving behind his dad and mom and two little sisters. He was playing with a gun, innocent as children are, his parents unaware. When Ricardo told me, all I could say, over and over, was, "That's awful, heartbreaking." All I could pray is, "God, be near to them."
There once was a Father who loved beyond our comprehension, beyond our reason, and watched his only Son die. If ever there's a father, a parent, who is intimately acquainted with this intense grief, it's God. I realize this doesn't fit within everyone's worldview, and so I don't force it, but it's central to mine. Tonight, as I prayed my simple prayers for Fabian's family, to my great surprise I choked on my words as the warm tears traced down my face. "You're a father, God..." my voice breaks, I'm crying now. "You understand, you know their pain." The awfulness of it silences me. God knows. I'm quiet, overwhelmed by this flood of emotion washing over me. I don't know this family, I don't know their pain. Other than sympathy or compassion, I have no tears of my own for them. No, these tears are different.
These tears are God's.
It's Christmas and this family is plunged into grief, and this is the season of Emmanuel - God with us - where God put on flesh and came near ages ago, and still comes near today. To those who grope in the darkness for him, there comes a great light. But before the light breaks, for those who grieve, there are first the arms of a father in the dark night and the tears of the one who knows.