“Losing a parent is like losing the past;
losing a spouse is like losing the present;
losing a child is like losing the future.”

A dear friend offered this quote to me as we shared a meal for the first time in years. Her husband, one of my youth leaders in high school, died in a tragic accident seven years ago. Their son ate with us, too. He was only five when his dad passed away. Now, not even a teenager, he speaks about faith and suffering with somber maturity far beyond his years.

As we all ate together, they said the first two lines of the quote captured a piece of their pain and were curious if the third line articulated mine. I didn’t even need to give it a thought. Death stole my son and all the dreams I had for him. Part of my soul will never move past November 8, 2018. Yes, losing a child is like losing the future.

There the three of us sat, an embodiment of the very statement that my friend quoted. A widowed wife, a bereaved son, and a grieving father. Past, present, and future: lost.

We shared both our pain and joy as we remembered our loved ones. We spoke of the ways we have healed and the ways we never will. Our conversation moved between weeping, silence and laughter in a way that only occurs between dear friends with deep wounds.

But unraveling heartache was not the only thing uniting us. We are also bound by unshakable hope.

Though the three of us are at different seasons of life, different stages of grief, and different places in processing our pain, we are held by the same Savior. We are forever fastened to a King who weeps with us, suffered for us, and raises the dead to life.

This does not mean our sorrow is erased, our questions are answered, or our grief has dissolved. It means we have One to bring our laments to. One to ask how he could allow such tragedies. One who did something decisive about death. And One who will definitively restore all things one day.

We have One to wrestle with as we wait.

As we do, we feel the unimaginable loss of our loved ones. We experience the unbearable loss of the past, present, and future. And we anticipate the unbelievable redemption that’s coming.