One thing we’ve consistently been told and believed since the very early moments into our journey of grieving the physical death of Sarah is, “there is nothing anyone can say to help.” Most of the people who told us this were those who had preceded us in this journey of grieving the departure of a child, fellow members in an exclusive club no one wants to join. The reality is some veteran members in this club have been the exception to what they told us, they have helped us with what they have said because they were the embodiment of the admonition in 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 [NASB]
Our hearts are almost instantly knit to theirs because we share the same grief, the agony that one who has not grieved the loss of a child thinks they can imagine, but imagination invariably falls woefully short of the excruciating reality.
Only a handful of our friends and family have grieved the loss of a child, the vast majority have not. I see in the eyes of our precious friends, family and church family who have not grieved the loss of a child, the longing to help but uncertainty as to how. Many are quick to ackowledge they can say nothing to help, and ask us what to do. Our constant answer continues to be “pray”. It sounds like so little, but if you genuinely understand and believe in the power of prayer you realize it is everything to us. We know that the constant undergirding of prayer by countless people across the nation, a significant percentage strangers to us, is what has carried us through this valley to this point. We covet those continued prayers in the days ahead, please continue to wrestle for us in prayer.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16 [NASB]
But then, surprisingly, actually shockingly, a stranger who commented on a Matt Walsh post about Sarah’s death actually said something that profoundly ministered to me as well. Not a member of the club, he is a young man who has not walked the path of our grief and cannot comprehend the depth of our pain. He commented, ” I’m a Christian, yes. But I still find this cruel.” Scott, who was watching comments on social media for opportunities to further share or clarify the gospel, prayed about this one for the day and responded the next morning with the following:
“I am Sarah’s father. Let there be no doubt that this has been incredibly painful for our family. But Sarah was ready. She had told her sisters within the previous two weeks that she was looking forward to heaven and that she couldn’t wait to get there. She has now heard God tell her “Well done my good and faithful servant”. We miss her terribly, but she wouldn’t want to come back now even if she could.”
A little over an hour later that young man commented back to Scott, “Wow Scott, I understand and I thank you for your family’s sacrifice.” I replayed those words in my mind several times, “Thank you for your family’s sacrifice.” They washed over me like a balm. God enabled that young man to understand it, he actually articulated what my heart feels. Our realization that Satan was sifting us, but that God would redeem it moved us in the very early moments after Sarah’s departure to offer up to the Lord our brokeness and grief, the surrendering of our precious Sarah, as a sacrifice to Him. I know He is using Sarah and her testimony, and we as a family rejoice in that, but at the same time we feel the deep sting of sacrifice in the sharing of her testimony, our testimony. God created in our hearts a longing for revival, and then He required from us an agonizingly hefty fee in the sparking of it.
Sarah knew that God uses tragedy to spark revival. She wrote in her Biblical Worldview, “God uses the worst times of trial and persecution to spread the gospel.” We know beyond any shadow of doubt that Sarah was a committed bondservant of the Lord, willingly offering up her life as a pleasing sacrifice to Him. So standing alongside her, we hold up our longing for her, our tears, our suffering and our anguish with open hands offering them as a sacrifice to Him, trusting Him daily to use her, her testimony, and our feeble faithfulness to point others to Him.
Sept 30, 16
Lord, I want to thank you for the examples you’ve provided in the martyrs. I was genuinely terrified of the persecution. But I prayed to You and You gave me a peace. Thank You that I have all these examples and encouragements from Your Word. Thank You that I can never be plucked from Your hand and that You’ll never give me more than I can handle. Thank You for dying for me and giving me an example, so that if need be, I can die for You. And I pray that I will truly live for You. I want to be a light. Please help me to live worthy of the calling I have received.
~ Sarah Harmening
Artwork: Sarah Harmening
“For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. “O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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.” 1 Corinthians 15:53-58 [NASB]