On this day, we celebrate the empty tomb. Jesus has overcome the Enemy and we who place our faith in Him possess the promise of eternity. A choice was made on the cross to remove death’s sting and dispense the gift of salvation through grace to all of mankind. It is an awesome, unparalleled gift that both lifts our hands to the heavens and lowers our knees to the ground. The Christian joy produced from the gift of Easter founded in Christ’s self-sacrifice has no equal.
Yet some of us also mourn an empty Easter basket. For the past five Easters, Evan’s yellow basket has stood empty: no chocolate, no Legos, no coins, no eggs—nothing. It is a day like all other days where the complete and total absence of our son is right here with us and yet it is different than other days since this special day was so deeply loved by him with many memories of past Easters. It is an acute reminder that empty tries to overtake the fullness of life—his empty chair at the dinner table, empty photo books, and empty journal entries. Empty is hard to take. Nothingness is often deafening. Absence leads to loneliness.
Even so, I want to encourage my friends and others who are missing their son or daughter this Easter to know that we can have joy in our daily walk, pursuing the positive in the midst of our new normal, while still protecting our justification to miss and love our children. Though experts refer to the “grief process” as though it finishes after a final step of acceptance, grief is not linear or even cyclical. Rather, it is a collection of experiential elements that create a new, permanent companion. This companion demands we live with it and make space for it for the rest of our lives. Yet, as Christian parents, we can place boundaries on this companion, forcing it to serve our emotional and spiritual needs in a healthy manner rather than allowing it to inflict unending pain and destruction.
One of the best ways I know how to do this is to pray through the promises of God, which remain unchanged and completely reliable. Gone but Not Lost: Grieving the Death of a Child by David W. Wiersbe was very helpful for me, pointing me towards crucial scriptures and their related promises. For these promises reinforce the nature and character of God while also reminding us how He promises to guide us, teach us, correct us, and cherish us for His glory and our good. Focusing on His promises also reminds us that even when God is silent, allows tragedy, or answers, “No”, He is still God, and He makes a path for us through difficult days, including holidays.
So, I again think of Jesus’ empty tomb and Evan’s empty Easter basket, and I have no other choice but to look upon both with joy. Though I selfishly want Evan with us, he is with the King of Kings on this Resurrection Sunday and every day. He, his younger brother, and the Lord’s other young people who have gone home before us have accomplished a destiny in their short time on this planet that we strive towards throughout the course of our whole lives—to be with Jesus for eternity. Though the chasm that separates us now from our children is great, it is not permanent because Jesus bridges that gap. As Evan professed after yet another medical trial had failed, “I’m so glad I know Jesus and that I know where I’m going. I feel sorry those who don’t know Him. I wish everyone knew Him.” I wish that too, and I also wish all to know that it is because of the empty tomb that I have peace about the empty basket.
Homeschooling since 2000, Carol shares in her blog observations, confessions, information, and musings that help provide perspective and inspiration for homeschooling moms.