I have often said I can live my whole life out of Romans 8, and I think there are lots of comforting ideas that apply for people who are grieving. About suffering -
I’ll start my thoughts with Romans 8:18. Paul says when you compare our sufferings now to the glorious things we will know soon, Glory wins BIG. I used to think that meant we won’t suffer very much here. But now that I know we do suffer, sometimes greatly!, so my picture of glory is bigger, much bigger. Those glorious things God has for us, in heaven if not in life on earth, will be much greater than this very real suffering you are experiencing since the death of your child. Glory is very much greater.
About Prayer –
Paul lets us know that sometimes we can’t find words to express our prayers. I know I’ve had that experience. Since Paul mentions it, it must be a somewhat common experience. God doesn’t think less of us for not finding the words. In fact, He listens and sends the spirit to interpret our sounds – sometimes nonsense sounds, sometimes just groans. To Him, it makes sense. So pray. Communicate with Him even when the best you can do is groan and sigh. He hears those prayers and knows how to answer them with what we really need.
About God’s primary agenda -
Romans says God’s big plan for each of us is that we become more like Christ. That’s His primary agenda. And the death of your child is not outside that agenda. We have let ourselves think He is more concerned with our happiness or our comfort level than with our character. But that thinking is wrong. Sometimes we can be really mad or disappointed with what God is doing. But some of our feelings are built on a foundation of our misunderstanding of His agenda. Let’s at least not add to our suffering by continuing our wrong thinking.
On our side -
He says He is FOR us. He is on your side; in your corner. It means he’s our coach and cheerleader and the ultra fan. He is also still all the Godly things, the names we know Him by: protector, provider, friend, teacher, as well as fan. Paul concludes this thought with: if God is for us, who can be against us. We know we have an enemy, but by comparison, God is so much grander and more powerful, that the enemy hardly matters. God is FOR You.
Finally, there is NO THING in the entire world or the expanse of the universe that can possibly separate us from God’s love. That love is expressed in Christ – communicated by coming to our world, knowing our experience, being here for our good, forgiving our weaknesses and misunderstanding, loving us so completely that he’d give up His life for us. NO THING: not geography, not time, not powerful politicians, not suffering of any kind, not health, not sorrow or stress, no danger, not heavenly beings (or aliens for that matter). Finally, Paul ends with a complete disclaimer in case you can think of something not found in any of these categories. He says “nor anything else in all creation.” So Paul, as God’s spokesperson says there is NO WAY you will be outside God’s love. You are loved.
Even the death of your child is within that love. I can’t tell you how that works, but I know it is so. In moments like this when I know and don’t know at the same time, I know it’s time to wait and to trust. Trust in God whose character is revealed through this: He sent His own son to die, to buy out our contract with the evil one for the things we have done that deserve punishment. He character is to come to us, for us, to bring us out of danger, to give us Life when we deserve terrible trials. God is love. And NO THING at all can take us away from that.
(Thoughts from Romans 8:18-39, especially verses 18, 26-27, 29, 31, 32, 38-39)
Did you notice I did not quote at you Romans 8:28? It’s my experience that being told this is not helpful! It’s like putting salt in an open wound! But, it is meaningful for you to think about. It is something that those who have suffered might be able to testify to after some healing, growing and maturing takes place. It is your story to tell, not for me to tell you “you must…”