“He wasn’t easy to raise, but it’s been more difficult losing him.”
That’s how Jan Harrison describes the emotional struggle she’s endured since her son, James, passed away six years ago at the age of 27. He was a challenge to raise because he was born with an adventurous spirit. He wasn’t the kind of kid who responded well to boundaries that locked him down.
That’s not easy for a mom whose natural instinct was to keep her son safe. Jan had to learn early on how to guide James toward healthy boundaries while trusting the Lord to watch over him.
Her faith was tested when James’ zest for risk and adventure led him to Nairobi, Kenya, to work with a local pastor who built churches and transported other pastors to remote villages, so they could preach the Gospel.
Then came Oct. 5, 2010. It was a Tuesday afternoon at about 2 o’clock. Her husband, Frank, unexpectedly came home from work and said something that seared the details of that moment into her mind.
“Jan,” he said, “we lost James today.”
Losing a child can be one of the deepest encounters with pain an individual can endure. The grief can be almost unbearable. And the questions that come out of our suffering – as well as the almost deafening silence out of which we hope an answer will appear – can be equally difficult to bear.
“Lord, why would You let this happen? What about our prayers? What about all the times we’ve stood on Your Word? We released him to you and trusted You to protect him. Why did You allow him to die?”
Some of you can relate to that pain and confusion on a deep and personal level. You’re struggling with other questions as well, like, “How do I survive this valley of suffering?”
People will offer a lot of advice on that front – the “right way” to grieve. The truth is, there isn’t a right or wrong way because your grief belongs to you. It’s between you and the Lord. No one, not even the person closest to you, can offer you a lasting comfort that can strengthen you in a way that reaches beyond your ability or theirs. Only Christ can touch our hearts that deeply.
Jan Harrison can speak meaningfully about how to keep your emotional and spiritual footing amidst tragedy because she’s walked the path of grief herself.
Jan is our guest on our program today. She’s a frequent women’s conference speaker and has served on the leadership team of Anne Graham Lotz’s revivals.