My friend Judy knows what loss feels like. Almost seven years ago, she got the news no parent ever wants to receive: her son was dead. I became friends with her shortly after this sad event took place and was a witness to her incredible faith and courage following such a difficult loss. In light of her God-given perspective that was on display to so many, I asked her to share her thoughts on loss and what she has gained along the way. Today, I share those thoughts with you:
"November 6th, 2007 is a day that my husband and I will cherish for the rest of our earthly life. Our son, Army Capt. Benjamin David Tiffner, called from Baghdad, Iraq, telling us the good news of the great successes the military was having and how thankful he was that he could be a part of what was happening in fighting terrorism. He was on his second tour to Iraq, commanding a small 12-man Special Forces team, and only 22 days in country. The 15 minute conversation with both my husband and I, at different locations in that early, dark morning here in Alaska, proved to be our last conversation with Ben here on earth. He once again assured us that God had placed him in Iraq at this particular time and this particular mission.
November 7, around 1:00 p.m. after finishing our lunch, two military officers came to our door, with news that no one ever wants to receive. Our son Benjamin, 31 years old, was killed by an IED. This particular explosive was intended to take the lives of all four soldiers in the vehicle, but Ben was the only casualty. Benjamin was one of three casualties at that time in his graduating class of the year 2000 from West Point Military Academy.
What does one do upon hearing such devastating news? My mothering instincts came into full force, and the weight of such news turned my life upside down. There is NOTHING that can compare to the loss of a child. The loss is so great in so many different areas of life that it is not apparent right away. And unless you are a member of this special and unique club (that no one wants to join) you are clueless to the magnitude of grief that comes with the loss of a child as you walk through the different phases of such a loss.
During the 15 minute conversation Benjamin had with his father, the day before he died, he asked us to pray for the 12 men on his Special Forces team...that they would see their need of a Savior and put their trust in Jesus Christ. He saw the bigger picture even in the midst of warfare, and that there was a bigger war, a spiritual war, going on in the lives of his team members. God has begun to answer that prayer request.
The only way one can travel through life in all its twist and turns, is believing God to be a sovereign and gracious God who really is in control of all that is going on. That He is working out His plan for mankind, that He knows us intimately and knows that date of our birth and the date of our death, and He knows EVERYTHING that represents the dash between the two. My husband and I have experienced this very unique kind of grace that He gives to His hurting children. He is our God, and He has proven Himself to be enough, even when we become separated from our loved ones through death.
Psalm 18:2 reminds us who our God is:
" The Lord is my...rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God,
my rock in whom I take refuge. My shield, the horn of my salvation,
Psalm 18:6 says,
" In my distress, I called upon the Lord, to my God, I cried for help.
From His temple, He heard my voice and my cry reached His ears."
He has proved Himself to be EVERYTHING He says He is."
I thank Judy for taking the time to share her heart. May we each learn to allow our losses to draw us closer to the God who gives us grace in our hour of need.