“No Parent Should Experience This.” (John 19:25)

My cell phone flashed the caller, it was my younger sister. 

“William would like you to come and see him.”

I understood what she meant. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.” 

My brother in law was dying from pancreatic cancer. For several years, he bravely faced his cancer but it was now clear the end was near. I made arrangements to spend a weekend in Hawaii where they lived. I arrived at their home at 7 AM on a Saturday morning. For the next twelve hours, we were left alone to reminisce and talk about anything that was on his mind. We spoke of the many adventures he had at sea as a chief petty officer for the U.S. Navy Seals reconnaissance support team. We spoke of his love of cycling and how he would sometimes bike to work, a 45 minute trip. Our conversation then turned to his parents who lived in New Jersey. Because of health reasons, they were unable to travel to Hawaii to see him. We spoke of the life lessons he learned from them. He shared the dreams that they had for him and his siblings. He spoke of his older brother who died a few years earlier and how it shattered their family.  He hung his head and softly spoke. “No parent should see their own children pass away before them. No parent should experience this.” We held each other and wept.

There was nothing more to say. I knew he believed in God and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Although he did not speak of his faith, he lived it, tenderly shepherding his family through the travails of this life. Now, in this time of his greatest need, his family surrounded and supported him. I was humbled and grateful to be at his side. I returned to California the following day. A few days later, my sister called me with the news that William had passed, surrounded by his loving family.  Even though it was not unexpected we both cried over the phone. How could this happen to someone so young? What about my sister and their two young children? Does God understand our pain when we lose someone far too early in life?

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

John 19:25 (NKJV)

The Bible does not go into detail what Mary, the mother of Jesus, was feeling as she saw her son dying on the Cross. We cannot begin to imagine the soul searing anguish as she cradled His lifeless body in her arms after He was taken down. There was nothing more to say. Did God understand her pain, losing her son under such horrific circumstances? As Mary cradled her son, God, the Father, also saw His own Son die. God knows our pain when a child unexpectedly dies.

No parent should experience this. 

Someday, in Heaven, I will see my dear brother in law again. There will be no more pain, suffering or tears. God is comforting him right now with the same tenderness that He gives to all of us when we are experiencing our deepest sorrows. 

He understands.

Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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