1 Peter 3:15-16 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak evil against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
What suffering have you experienced lately? It is guaranteed that we will experience suffering in this world. Sometimes it is directly related to our commitment to Christ and other times it’s just a trait of being human in an imperfect world. My youngest experienced a taste of “suffering” when he was dismissed from his travel baseball team. I know….first world problems….but to him, it was suffering. He was disappointed, mad, sad, and confused. And as his parents, we felt the same way. The stages of grief are very real – even in this situation. The 5 stages of grief are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. We definitely battled between denial and anger pretty fiercely. Probably still hanging out there to be honest. Those feelings are the easier ones because we are looking for someone else to blame for our circumstances. We also want to do whatever we can to reverse it. Bargaining is a tool that can make us think we can get back what we lost. These are normal steps that need to be experienced before seeing our new reality. Depression hasn’t set in yet but I know it will come as we look forward to acceptance. One of the signs of depression is hopelessness or the feeling that there is nothing to look forward to and nothing good will ever happen again. Have you ever felt this way? As his parents, I know we are here to remind him that he is loved and we support him 100%, all the time. As we look forward to acceptance there is opportunity for a new hope for the future. Please know that I am not minimizing these stages of grief. They are real and everyone experiences each step differently and in their own timing. It’s even possible to move back and forth between different stages before getting to that point of acceptance and hope. If you are going through these stages today due to the loss of a loved one, I am so sorry. Your pain is real. There is no timeline and no perfect path to acceptance. As Christians, I am thankful that we have hope from the very beginning. It is a hope we choose to cling to because we believe that Jesus came to Earth to die on the cross for our sins so we would have the hope of eternity with Him. This is the only true constant in our lives. He is the one thing that will never change, or die, or disappoint.
Thankfully, we were able to share with our son the hope we have in Jesus. This experience is setting the tone for how he will respond to future loss, which is inevitable. In my experience, it has never really been about baseball. Yes he’s playing the game (and he loves it) but he’s also learning so much about himself and others and how things work – or don’t work. His worth and value do not come from his performance in baseball or which team keeps him. He is a child of God, deeply loved, and worthy from the very beginning. We all are. If you are experiencing loss and suffering today, God provides hope while you walk through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. He is the reason for our HOPE.