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Our Treasures Are His

By Tom and Sherry Bushnell


*All Scripture is taken from the American Standard Version.

    The heart surgeon called the exhausted parents into the little conference room, off to the side of the spacious waiting area. It had been 8 long hours since the surgery, and still their daughter's little body struggled as the heart and lung machine was not pumping blood and breathing for her any longer. Other families, waiting for positive news on their children, stared in sympathy. It was away from these eyes that the specialist ushered the mommy and daddy.

"We can't do much more for her. We've done just about everything we know of. We can try some more adrenalin, but her heart has not responded to the previous doses. She is barely there now. Her blood pressure is not even perceptive." The doctor spoke quietly.

"Just let her go." the mother whispered. "Just let her go." The father, with tears rolling down his face, looked beseechingly at the intern. "Can't we put her back on the machine???"

"Her entire body is not responding. The stitches are going to break, causing leakage in her heart cavity. The blood pressure system inside her heart and lung cavity will not maintain enough pressure to keep her alive."

The surgeon's voice sadly droned on and on. The father and mother in quiet agreement and anguished hearts let their little girl go home to Jesus.

Hours later, outside the modern medical facility, the twinkling stars and light breeze were a familiar balm. 10 days locked inside a children's hospital, waiting for surgery, had worn them thin. They longed to go home and hold their other children. their rosy-cheeked, healthy, children, full of life.

At home, Mother's arms ached as her breasts filled with milk...and there was no baby to drink. Nor would there be for a long time. She hugged a pillow, trying to press away the pain.

Father's eye's filled with tears, as he watched his precious wife suffer inside. Was there no end to this nightmare?

Anyone experiencing the death of a child will understand the story above.

It is a true story. It is ours. Our children are not permanent fixtures in our lives. Parents giving birth to a child with life threatening disability, understand, and no longer take for granted, health and life. All of our lives, our very breath, are in the hands of our God. Grief and heartache is a very real part of parenting. Not just death causes pain. Parent's, whose children yet live and are choosing spiritual death, are grieving too. Thankfully, parenting, for the most part, is full of joy and warm hugs. Families who have lost a child, are following Jesus and trying to live for Him consistently, will understand life from an eternal perspective. We are aliens in a strange land. Our real home, in heaven, is really not very far away. In this light, how then ought we to live? An eternal perspective causes all of us to think closely about how we are living right now.
Questions like: Does our life honor the Lord? Are we living to please Him, or ourselves? How are we treating those around us? These are uppermost in our minds.

Loosing a child is a helpless feeling. Death is so permanent! Those of us who like to "be in control" face a greater struggle, accepting with grace, the loss of a child. There is one lesson Christians can count on learning through death. God knows best. As a parent reminisces through the exciting time of finding out about the pregnancy, the awful morning sickness, the hard work of a birth, welcoming a new blessing into their home, the trials of new-baby-late-nights, the joys of the first smile, the first tooth and so much more, parents facing a loss may wonder: why?? What a loss. Some parents may even feel their labor was in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 tells us, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."

None of us knows exactly what lies ahead for us, or our children, here on earth or in heaven. 1 Cor. 2:9 states; "but just as it is written, Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love him." It is our personal sorrow which causes us pain. Our selfish desire not to be parted from our little one so soon, causes us distress. It is comforting for us to remember, that given the chance to come back, they would decline. Instead, beckoning us with love, they would admonish us to endure and finish the race set before us. It really is a short time until all of us meet. In the perspective of time eternal, our lives are a mere vapor. It seems so hard now. The long nighttime hours of sobbing into our pillows and the smells, voices and faces that bring back a rush of good or bad memories, will someday be over.

For the committed Christian, in the place of sorrow, God places an eternal perspective. This eternal perspective should help us strive to do all that we can, making first priority, that all of the family gets to heaven. If our lives are temporary, how then should we act? We do not know when any of us will be finished. Striving for excellence in love for the Lord, the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control) and character training, supersede all other forms of human achievement. If the world's knowledge and priorities will not get us, or our children, into heaven, they should not be first priority!

There is a lesson in economics, written in the book Economics In One Lesson, by Henry Hazlitt, that we can apply to our lives here on earth while we wait for the blessed reunion with those gone on before us. It is very simple:

"The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups."

In other words, everything we do affects those around us, positive or negative. We do not live in a vacuum. It is easy, in our time of sorrow, to loose sight of this fact."

As committed Christians, we must be careful how we grieve. 2 Corinthians 6 is a good scripture to read along these lines. We must be careful to give no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, talked about his "light" afflictions he endured for the gospel, such as, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, hunger, etc. in order to be servants of God. Most of us will never face such trials, but it is hard to see past our pain to the future. Those who do not know Jesus are watching us. It is the test of our metal, so to speak. Are Christians really different? How we talk about the death of our child, how we hold our body and our lack of bitterness will speak volumes no sermon could hope, to the hearts of the unbelieving. Our light afflictions are producing in us an eternal weight of glory. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 states: "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal."
We can't always see what God is doing in us, or in those around us. For instance: as a result of our child dying, Tom's brother came to know Jesus as his Personal Savior. It was an exchange orchestrated by our Lord that we could not see or even imagine. Our daughter's passing from here on earth, the memorial, God's drawing our brother, and His grace, all combined, led to another name written in the Lambs' Book of Life. Our Treasure, so quickly gone from us, was meant to bring our brother, also dear to us, into life eternal. What a blessing! As our brother and his family grow closer to the Lord each year, it is balm to our hearts. 2 Cor. 5:20 states: "Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to Him." What are qualities of an ambassador? They represent their King and country in a foreign land. They act only in ways that would be a good representative of who they are representing.

1 Peter 2:11 tell us, "Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul." We are to think of ourselves ambassadors of the King of Heaven, of the very place our child is living and joyously waiting for us to come home to. This strange, earthly, land full of hurt, sorrow, pain, accidents and disease is NOT OUR HOME. Boy are we glad! Keeping in light of this, verse 12
says: "Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles so that the things in which they slander you as evil doers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation."
Many parents wish they could just die and go to heaven too. Life hurts too much to go on. In addition, Satan can use this time of affliction to crumble marriages and create more stress within a home already hurting. He knows no bounds. For many families, like ours, there comes a crucial pivoting point. We were to make a decision to serve ourselves, or serve God and others. We had a choice: to languish in our pain and become bitter and angry, or to trust God.

I am sure the prayers of our immediate family and hundreds of those we do not know, served to strengthen us during this time of trial. Oh how we struggled. Our very tenants of faith were shaken. "Things like death happened only to others." We had to spiritually grow up. It was the beginning of a new life for us as Our Heavenly Father gently comforted us. He opened our eyes to hurting people. Suddenly we had an audience for the gospel everywhere we went. People were listening and watching. In our sensitivity and pain we felt like we wore signs around our neck that read, "Our daughter just died."

We would like to share some ways God brought us through our grief in a way honoring to Him.

1. Stay away from the "if-onlys."

It is easy to become bitter if we allow ourselves to question God and His allowing the earthly life of our child to be taken. Our plans, our dreams, all must be laid at His feet in order for us to trust Him. He knows best. Our child's death was no accident. (Even earthly "accidents" are no accident.) All of the if-onlys in the world would not bring back our child and it created additional stress on us, as if we were actually in control of our child's destiny. Our child's race was simply finished before ours. Psalm 116:15 says in comfort, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones."

2. An eternal perspective is born.

As stated earlier, our eternal perspective we have gained, should help us make spiritual development in our other children, and those dear to us, number one in priority. What is it going to take to be sure our children and dear ones are safe in His care for eternity? What are we doing to further this goal? What are we willing to sacrifice: our time, our money, our employment position, our standing in the community? Having an eternal perspective throws a dark shadow on all of our earthly treasures, bringing to light real treasures, that will truly remain. The souls of our loves ones. Our mission is now clear.

3. Thinking of others in your time of grief will bring you relief.

The tight knot of grief, so stuck on our throats, was lifted entirely after a day of labor for someone in need. It was as if we had found a special medicine that worked to cure the incurable! Our days spent after the memorial, gathering our emotions, so they would not tumble out at the least convenient moment in public, gave way to long days of sadness. Life went on, without our little child. Will anyone remember her? Will I forget her? Oh never! After prayer and leaning on Jesus, He opened our eyes to people suffering and needing help around us. (We believe He gives all of us experiencing grief this opportunity.) We had a choice. We could wallow in our pain and become bitter, or we could reach beyond ourselves and comfort others. This is the essence of Christianity; loving God and others more than ourselves. 2 Corinthians 8:2 says, "That in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord. " Helping others helps us. It brings joy.

4. Give yourselves wholly over to God daily.

He is doing a great work in you. He has not allowed this affliction in your life to punish you (although it may feel this way.) Instead, His giant and perfect understanding of what lies ahead for you and your family deems this the best course of action for your spiritual health. No, we cannot understand. Our child lies cold and dead, while others around us do not suffer so. Why us??? Once again God gently breathes softly into our hearts, "Trust Me." Trust brings peace. 2 Cor. 12:9-10 encourages us, "And he has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with difficulties, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ 's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

5. Be careful not to listen to the world's advice on coping with grief. Tranquilizers, hypnosis, anger, and all manners of selfishness are the world 's ways of getting through life with grief. The patient psychologists and social workers, trained to deal with folks who are experiencing grief, have a quick solution. But the ploys of their trade have lasting harm for Christians. The world's temporary relief measures do not serve to work a harvest of good in our souls. Anger toward God, affecting those around us, does nothing but further hurt our hearts. Everything we do affects those around us.