Thursday, February 20, 2014

Life, Love, Family, Loss, Faith

I feel the need to write this post even though words seem so trivial in times like this.  Our family lost a father, brother, son, grandson, nephew and cousin in a senseless and tragic way on Valentine's Day.  Shock, anger, regret, pain, confusion, sorrow - I know these are all emotions most of us have felt over the last several days.

I remember visiting my cousin Josh mostly in the summers when we were kids.  He was funny.  He was sarcastic.  He was handsome.  He was a protective brother.  I hate to say that as adults we did not know each other as well but when he came to our cousin's wedding in June it was as if no time had passed.  He was still funny.  He was still sarcastic.  He was still handsome.  And he was still a protective brother.  And now he was so much more - a loving father who loved his three boys. 

It is so easy to get caught up in the "whys" of life.  But I am convinced that is not what God wants us to focus on.  God gives us relationships so we can understand how much He loves us.  We ask Him why He took someone we loved but what we should remember is what God sacrificed for us.  "For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16).  He sacrificed His own Son so that we could have eternal life.  God knows pain, grief and loss.  He has experienced it first hand.

Earlier this week I went to visit my aunt and sisters of my cousin who passed away.  At one point I remember standing in my cousin's kitchen and just watching Josh's boys in the living room.  I fully expected to feel sadness, a sense of confusion, chaos and grief in the room.  But instead I felt peace.  Pure peace.  Joy, love, comfort and peace.  I felt the Holy Spirit all over that house.  And I knew at that moment, without a doubt, those boys would be okay.  Of course they are going to miss their daddy.  Of course they are going to have questions and sadness and some confusion in the days ahead.  But to know that God is with them and will carry them through this brings me an unexplainable joy I can't even try to put into words.

I had the pleasure of singing with my sister and cousins at Josh's funeral.  One of my favorite songs, "I Will Rise", was one that we sang.  My favorite part of the song is this:

And I hear the voice of many angels sing, Worthy is the Lamb 
And I hear the cry of every longing heart, Worthy is the Lamb

I can't even begin to fathom how incredible it will be to one day go through the gates of heaven and hear the angels singing.  And be able to worship God with all my heart and soul.

No Gerber funeral ends without a funny story.  And I was so grateful that ours happened at the beginning of Josh's service.  I was looking for a mint and my cousin came to the rescue...or so I thought.  He held out his palm filled with what looked like some kind of healing crystals or drugs of some sort and offered me a "mint".  I questioned it and showed it to my cousin behind me, who concurred it looked more like drugs than a mint.  As I'm staring at this object in my  hand I hear my cousin (who offered me the mint) start to choke/gag a little.  Come to find out this was no mint.  It was, in fact, beads from a broken necklace.  Really?!  I have to say it provided a few too many minutes of laughter just before the service.  I think God knew just what we needed.

Some of my favorite verses that have gotten me through the last several days are:

"God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted." ~Matthew 5:4

"His anger lasts for a little while,
    but then his kindness brings life.
The night may be filled with tears,
    but in the morning we can sing for joy!" ~Psalm 30:5

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  ~Romans 8:38-39

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." ~ Psalm 46:1
All of us are dealing with something.  Loss, grief, pain, a failing marriage, addiction, depression, temptations... and I just want to tell you that God IS with you!  No matter how far you feel from Him He is with you.  He will always be with you.  He will never forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
I want to share a few pictures of the incredible family God has blessed me with.  We have been through our share of pain and loss and have continued to overcome - with each other and most importantly with the love and strength Christ gives us.  God is good.  All the time!

Gerber Cousins

Gerber Boys and Julie


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