My father-in-law died today.
I am not totally unfamiliar with the pain one feels when a loved one passes. My oldest brother died in 1994. My father passed away on Christmas Eve 2007. And my father-in-law joined both of them today.
During the days just prior, as I watched my wife’s family deal with the tangible weight of impending loss, a heavy burden of sadness enveloped the rest of my senses and I looked to Heaven for some sort of relief. As I looked up and the tears rolled down my cheeks, something occurred to me… is this the same sadness God feels when one of His precious children chooses sin and rejects him and spends eternity in Hell?
I’ve always thought of God as either a God of love or a God of wrath, but never one of sadness. However, if the return of the prodigal son was cause for a feast and celebration, would not the loss of one of God’s children cause divine mourning?
If I can feel the palatable sense of loss, the heart-wrenching, all encompassing sadness that drenches my soul when I lose a loved one, would not God feel the same intense grief over the loss of one of His children for eternity?
As Abba, Father, I have always thought of God as the kind, but stern parent. Today’s events made me realize, for the first time, the incredible sense of pain that parent, our Father, must feel when he loses a child. And, looking at the world, how much grief does our Lord feel everyday? How much do we make his heart ache? How often does he weep?
I only hope that when it is my time to join my father, brother and father-in-law, that I bring my Lord joy and not the pain of loss that I felt today.
As for my father-in-law, Don lived his faith and led by example. He housed me and my family for two years as I recovered from surgery. He helped retrain me when I changed careers, got me four interviews at my current employer, the fourth one leading to a job for 12 years and counting. And he personally catechized our children in the Catholic faith with a depth and understanding that astounds me everyday.
I have been blessed by God for allowing such a wonderful man to enter my life. Thank you Lord. Shine your light upon him today.
Let the celebration feast begin.