Week 20 Tuesday

A Father’s Grief

Today’s scripture selection: Second Samuel 15-19

Key verse: Second Samuel 18:33

“O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you – O Absalom, my son, my son!”

The scripture comes right to the point:

“The king was shaken.”

David lived in a world where, sadly, it wasn’t all that unusual for a ruler to find his closest friends or even his own family turning against him. Even in today’s world, it is not unheard of.

But what is different about David’s story is how he responded to the fact that his own son had betrayed him.

When the hard fought battle was over, and the rebel son was dead, David – the king – was “shaken.” He hung his head over a balcony, inconsolable. And he wished that he had died instead.

The seasoned, hardened, career military man who had killed countless men himself – stood weeping like a baby. Why? He was, most of all, a father grieving for his lost son.

It is a sad story. But I think it somehow also points to a deep, spiritual truth.

It points to how God feels too.

God hasn’t lost a rebellious son. In fact, it’s just the opposite. God’s son sacrificed himself for the world – not to gain control of it.

But how God the Father must have grieved this loss – even while He knew it had to be.

The whole idea of the “Holy Trinity” – with God the Father; Son; and Holy Spirit – well, it can spin your head trying to figure out how all that works.

But, isn’t it somehow enough to know that for thousands of years the Christian faith has upheld this idea – of a God who somehow loves His children so much – that “He gave His only begotten Son” – that a whole world full of children are saved from destruction. Yes, it’s a mystery – this odd story of a heavenly Father grieving the loss of His only Son – yet doing it anyway – for us.

King David loved and grieved his lost son. The King of Heaven loved and grieved his lost son too.

But the two stories end in very different ways.

One ends tragically – sadly – with an inconsolable, grieving father and a rebellious son dying for nothing. The other – it ends with an obedient Son dying for everything, and an entire world being saved from death.

It ends – in indescribable hope.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving up your only Son, for us. AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. “Elpis” is the Greek word for “expectant hope.” He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, and a member of Spiritual Directors International. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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