In Sympathy to the Challies Family
Dear Tim and Aileen,
At the moment I saw Tim's title on his post dated November 4, my heart immediately sank. The whispered prayer "Oh, please no, Lord!" escaped my lips. The temporal news of election results on that day and everything else melted away before the eternal realities you were facing as parents. Reflecting on your loss, seeing your posts about Nick, and reading Dr. Mohler's touching letter about your son to the Southern and Boyce community have brought fresh waves of grief over these past days.
Why does this hit me so emotionally? I have only met you once, Tim, and did not know your precious son Nick. Surely every parent who hears news of this nature pauses, thinks of their own child, and imagines the pain. Yet this grief is more than that. I hurt and have cried for you two. My wife and I have discussed your loss extensively. Why?
I believe it is because this blog world we dwell in is more real than we sometimes think. In reading your posts almost every day, in interacting over articles, and even occasionally correcting grammar with some humor in one another's posts through a short email, I have come to know and appreciate you greatly. Your zealous love for truth combined with your humble, sincere expression of it has endeared you to me as it does to so many others. From what I read, sounds like Nick was just like his dad in that way. So though separated by things such as miles or denominations that can often hinder heart attachments, I just wanted to let you both know many hearts beyond what we may imagine are sincerely aching for you.
That's the reason I decided to write this letter openly, Tim and Aileen, in tribute to you and your dear son. Just as we witness in the pages of Scripture the saints openly greeting, sharing with, praying for, and loving those they only knew through letters and others' witness, so many of us relate to you similarly. The Spirit of Christ creates bonds inexplicable.
However, words to comfort beyond these fail me. So I borrow from others. B.M. Palmer, the nineteenth century southern Presbyterian, wrote a book called The Broken Home. In this volume he chronicles losing a son and four daughters with beautiful prose and moving poems. Some of what you have already written reminded me of this work. When his little son, Benjamin, died at only two years of age, he wrote personally about him as you have done. He then concluded with a poem by Daniel Webster, who had in turn lost a son. In part the poem reads:
The staff on which my years should lean
Is broken; ere those years come o’er me;
My funeral rites thou shouldest have seen,
But thou art in the grave before me.
Thou rear’st to me no filial stone;
No parent’s grave with tears beholdest;
Thou art my Ancestor, my Son,
And stand’st in Heaven’s account the oldest.
On earth my lot was soonest cast,
Thy generation after mine;
Thou hast thy predecessor past –
Earlier Eternity is thine...
Sweet Seraph, I would learn of thee
And hasten to partake thy bliss;
And oh, to thy world welcome me,
As first I welcomed thee to this.
May the Lord sustain you as you miss your dear son until that day he welcomes you to his blissful world.
In the Love of Christ,
Barry & Miriam