This afternoon I was telling some friends about my brother Craig. I was telling them what an easy person Craig was to love. “If you would’ve known him, he would’ve been one of your favorite people,” I said. He had a magnetism, a humor, a sweet and loving disposition. He was humble. He loved Jesus. But the sad thing is not that I’ve lost a “loved one” or five. It’s that I’ve lost loving ones.
You see the phrase “losing a loved one” is misleading, because “loved one” is a misnomer. There is nothing past tense about your emotional attachment to someone who is gone. I love my brother just the same. I love my dad just the same, and my uncle and my Papa, and my aunt, and all my other relatives who have died. The real heartache, the void, is not being loved in return, at least not in a tangible way. I am desperate for their affirming words, approving laughs, faithful prayers, their wisdom, their warm hugs — their overall showering of love. Losing a loving one is hard. I’ll long for these dear ones until I die.
But as much as I may want them back, there is a great comfort in knowing that they know no tears. After all, when we love someone, we are vulnerable. When the beloved hurts, we hurt. Yesterday I took the boys downtown Washington for the afternoon. The Potomac was bluer than usual, the sun was brighter, and we had a delightful time playing tourists. However, there was one not-so-wonderful moment. Sammy was harmlessly chasing after Nate and tripped. As an observer, his half-second trip to the ground felt like ten minutes. It was one of those falls that didn’t end on hands and knees — no, he had enough momentum to carry the ride right onto his face. His nose and cheeks are scraped up good (and of course, it’s picture day tomorrow at preschool!). Watching someone you love get hurt is terrible; it gives you an immediate sick feeling in the pit of your stomach.
And a scraped up face is nothing. In a week it will be gone. But watching someone you love truly suffer — emotionally or physically — now that’s hard. There’s a helpless feeling. A desperation. That’s why Isaiah 25:8 is such a comfort: “He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces.”
I miss my loving ones, but what a comfort to know that they all knew Jesus as Lord and Savior in their earthly lives, and now they are living eternally in the presence of the Loving Creator of the Universe. Praise be to God that death and tears will be swallowed up forever, that no matter how much pain, darkness, and evil there is now, that Jesus is the ultimate victor. The truth is, Love wins!