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EHS 5: Enlarge Your Soul Through Grief and Loss

20-05-2018

Introduction…

Owain has Down Syndrome. Owain is my friend Bob’s son. Bob is a pastor near Ottawa, but I actually know Bob from Nova Scotia. He was one of my Dad’s students in seminary and I got to know him through the InterVarsity group on campus.

Bob and I recently spoke about Owain. Bob told me that he and his wife, Michelle, struggled with grief when Owain was born. Part of their struggle was that they felt like they were grieving Owain, and that felt wrong and came with guilt. Then they came to understand that what they were truly grieving was all of their lost hopes and expectations for Owain that they held. Owain was not likely to fulfil many of their expectations or the things they projected onto Owain. They realized that wasn’t Owain’s fault, that was theirs. Their expectations and projections onto Owain were their own “junk” not Owain’s. When they realized that and were able to grieve and overcome their “stuff,” their “junk,” they were able to love and enjoy Owain on his own terms.

Now, here’s the remarkable insight Bob shared with me: all parents grieve their unfulfilled expectations for their children, they just usually spread that grieving and mourning out over 20 or 30 years as their children grow up! Bob and Michelle were able to mourn those losses up front. That then freed them to love Owain on his terms, not theirs!

Bob and Michelle grew and matured through their grief and loss. They brought it to the Lord and discovered that much of what they were mourning was junk in their own hearts, not stuff in Owain himself. They have come to love their child with a disability in a profound way and, I suspect it has shaped how they love their older daughter too!

Grief and loss, mourning, are not bad things in and of themselves. In fact, we can grow tremendously through them, if we allow God to use them to shape us and refine us to be like his Son. Jesus himself learned through grief and loss. In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus wrestled with God in prayer. He prayed and wept that he would not have to go through the crucifixion, but even as he asked that God would “Take this cup from him,” he continued, “Not my will, but your will be done.” These events are described in the Gospels, but is further discussed in the book of Hebrews. Let’s take a look.

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Filetype: MP3 - Size: 34.21MB - Duration: 37:22 m (128 kbps 48000 Hz)