Unavoidable Pain

Tim Jackson —  February 1, 2013 — 6 Comments

In my role as a father, I’ve always considered protecting my three children from harm and from things that would hurt them as one of my primary missions. Hot stoves. Sharp knives. Power tools. Bikes. Cars. People. All of them have the potential for good or harm. Knowing how to handle each is crucial to minimize the risks of pain.

At times, I’ve succeeded. But all too often I’ve failed miserably. Or at least that’s how I feel when I’m helpless to prevent something from hurting one of them.

On Friday, I felt that helpless feeling again. This time it was a text from my youngest, my baby girl. (Yea, she’s 22, but she’ll always be my baby! You dads know exactly what I mean.)

The text was urgent, simple, and pointed:

“Please pray. One of my friends Micah is in the hospital after passing out in the pool. They haven’t been able to fully revive him yet. Please, please pray!”

A few moments later, she wrote, “He didn’t make it . . . Please pray for his family.”

My wife and I were on our way to meet my son and his wife for dinner. We were anticipating a wonderful time together. Now we were stunned, kicked in the gut. We ached for our daughter, but we felt a deeper grief for Micah’s parents who we’ve never met and who just lost their precious son. (His older sister had been on my daughter’s floor last semester.)

As we parked the car, my wife and I clutched hands and prayed. We asked that God be present with our daughter, and that He would hold and comfort her, her friends, the student body and staff of the Christian college she’s attending, Micah’s family, his roommate, the young men on his floor, and the students who pulled him out of the pool and did their best to revive him. All are reeling in pain from the loss of this vibrant young man.

We prayed that God would surround them with His loving embrace so that they would know they were loved even in the middle of their pain.

Recently I’ve been working through some material on the loss of a child in preparation for an upcoming program. In his book Written In Tears, Luke Veldt writes about the tragic and sudden death of Allison, his 13-year-old daughter. He makes an astounding and terrifying statement: “It took the death of my daughter for me to begin to understand the love of God” (p. 24).

Yikes! I want to know the love of God, but must it require that pain and loss be inflicted on my heart to truly know His love? Luke’s book describes his personal journey through grief and “how I came to know God better, not just despite my loss, but because of it” (p. 25).

Luke goes on to quote A. W. Tozer who wrote: “The Bible was written in tears and to tears it will reveal its best treasures” (p. 22). It’s the journey through grief that often drives us to the God of the Bible for answers. But there are no answers that will bring our loved one back or remove the pain of their absence.

Yet God is there. He’s not silent. And He weeps with us because He loves us. He’s not impotent or uncaring because He didn’t prevent the pain. Even though He’s a perfect parent, God never promised to protect us from all pain. But He’s with us in our pain.

The journey through painful loss was never meant to be taken alone. We need others to go with us, reliable guides who have walked this path and found hope in the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3). How Can I Live With My Loss? is a booklet we’ve prepared to help you navigate your journey through grief.

And a request: Please pray for Micah’s family, my daughter Tracey and her friends, classmates, and the staff at Moody Bible Institute as they take this journey through grief together. Pray that the pain of this loss will bind them into a healing community that is empowered by the loving God who welcomed Micah home with joyful celebration.

Tim Jackson

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Tim Jackson is married to his college sweetheart, Cole. They have 3 adult children. Tim is the producer for the HelpForMyLife.org website, writes Discover Series booklets on a variety of counseling issues and hosts webinars for RBC Ministries. He's also the founder and president of Still Waters Counseling & Equipping Ministries, PC, a local counseling practice serving individuals, couples and families. When not in the office, you will probably find him up a tree with a bow, in a duck blind or fly fishing on one of Michigan's many rivers.

6 responses to Unavoidable Pain

  1. This message is trully a healing to my wound. Thank u.

  2. praise the lord!

    thanks for sharing this testimony which really helped me understand the pain im going through.may be my pain is not as micah loss for their parents and dear ones but it is almost close. still imlooking for answers from the lord.
    i will pray for micah’s and your family too.thanks alot sir, for such an encouraging message.

    god bless you & your family!

  3. When I read Unavoidable pain I found myself wondering how many other people are out there that feel that much compassion for those who are hurting? A few years ago I went on a mission trip. I really felt GPS was preparing me to be compassionate towards people. Since then I have had experiences such as this story describes and I have been utterly broke hearted for the surviving families. At the time it is almost unbearable however I find myself loving people more than I thought possible since I don’t even know them. Thank you for sharing your story, it helps to hear about others compassion and passion for Christ

  4. Thanks for the sharing, this article healed my heart.

  5. Today I came to Oswald Chambers looking for something to share with a young man from my son’s baseball team named Tyler, who came home on Thursday to find his mother dead. I am encouraged and amazed at the vastness of God, yet the timely specific meeting of our own needs He fulfills. I was pleased to find this post here today when I was seeking something to share with him. When I began to read this my heart lept because I knew Micah and his family and have been grieving and praying for them. I also know from talking to Micah’s Dad that God is carrying them through this with an unimaginable peace. God knew to bring me to this sight today to find this. I feel like these encouraging words reminded me that we are one in a million but yet God is so great he knows our specific needs and can bring us to find a post about someone I knew. God is so faithful and he promises to never leaves us or forsake us! Please continue to pray for the Stinchfield family and also pray for Tyler Vaughn as he is walking this journey of grief and pain. Pray for God to send many people to minister to him, guide him, and love on him.

  6. Todd,

    Our hearts grieve with Tyler and his family over the loss of his mother. We’ll remember them in prayer. Thank you for your ministry in Tyler’s life. We pray that you and your son may have opportunities to listen, encourage, and comfort Tyler and his family as they progress on their journey of grief. Please check out our hfml category of Grief & Loss, and especially our booklet on grief, How Can I Live With My Loss?. I think you will find these resources helpful in assisting Tyler on his journey through grief as well as better equipping you and your son to understand his journey and to provide comfort along the way. Blessings.

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