Today we had a picnic for bereaved parents. We had good weather, good food and great fellowship. We enjoyed being together. We wished the circumstances that brought us together were different. The death of a child as the common bond is not one that anyone would wish for. This bond brought us together from different backgrounds, circumstances, and locations.
One would expect such a gathering would be a rather somber occasion. There was some sadness and some tears, of course, but there was also a lot of laughter and fun and enjoyment of the day together.
The laughter did not help us put the tragedy of experiencing the death of a child “behind us”. Bereaved parents know nothing puts that “behind them” or enables us to just “move on”. It is not something we “get over”. However, God enables us to move ahead even with our sorrow and grief.
Some might think that everybody at the picnic has now gone home after an enjoyable day only to pick up the sorrow, grief and hurt. It is true that such a time is a welcome break from pressing grief and sorrow, but I would suggest that that is not a complete picture of what happened today.
Someone at the picnic reminded us of a comment they had heard describing laughter as a”physical sign of hope.” Yes, it is one day at a time, yet we are linked to the past and look to the future. The past contains both precious and unpleasant memories, even very painful memories. We can not change the past and we don't know what the future holds. This reminds me of the words of a song, “Yesterday's gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.”*
At the picnic we took advantage of “today'. We embraced it. We enjoyed it with others who could at the same time share our sense of sorrow and pain over the loss of a child. Having fun and laughing gave rise to new hope for strength and grace for another day.
As I reflect on this day I am grateful for my friends who came to laugh with me and enjoy my company as I did theirs. I know God understands but it helps me when He sends others who understand. Today, probably without realizing it, we lived out the Scripture,
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” II Corinthians 1:3-4
Now, the surprising thing is that God makes comfort possible not only through tears but also through laughter. Isn't that neat? Praise God!
*"We Have This Moment" by Bill and Gloria Gaither