The Loss of a Son

George Mylne, 1871

Have you lost a son? Perhaps your only son! How sad! How beyond sad! His mother's darling his father's stay; on him the prospects of the family hung and, as it proved, upon a thread how slender! Not all your prayers nor tears could keep him here, nor yet the passionate refrain of friends, who said, "How hard to lose him!" How simply stern, how sternly simple, was the act of his removal! God had but to say, "Return!" to gather to Himself his spirit and his breath (Job 34:14), and immediately his spirit fled and your son was gone!

Whether he died in childhood, or in expanding youth, or in the full-blown energy of manhood weighed in the balances of life's contingencies your sorrow ranks among the heaviest. How fondly you retain, as sad mementoes, the play things that his tiny hands had grasped or yet, the implements of youthful sports, telling of many a gala day, exuberant in gladness or yet again, more solid vestiges of mind and energy in science, letters, or in business! These speak a language to the heart which none but you can read, eloquent in their stillness awakening chords, silent in their solemn tune.

How long is it since he died? Well, you find that time is not a perfect healer. It may make you forget at least (and this is a humbling thought to dwell upon, a tribute to the wasting power of the fall) but reconcile you to the loss it cannot. Time may skin the wound over, and does, with more or less oblivion but this is not a commendable healing.

Harken, my friend! I know I make a great demand upon you. Grief does not like to reason or investigate it has no heart to do so. Even if it would moralize, it often is in the romance of sorrow. If it would be religious, it is too often the creed of sentiment, and not the sober truth of providence and grace. Forgive me, mourner. I have spoken of a Secret, and now I offer you a text that throws a light upon the subject: "The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him; and He will show them His covenant" (Psalm 25:14). Grace is a secret providence is the same; so are all the dealings of God's hidden will. With Him the secret rests, and He alone can give the key to open it. Would you know it? Ask Him to unfold the mystery. Ask Him to show you why He took your son. Then will He show you His covenant of grace and peace the secret of His righteous dealing. He will teach you how a blessing is wrapped up in affliction, meant to enlighten you, to draw you near to God, to make you seek Him, if you know Him not, and give you lasting blessing for your present loss. Ask God if this is not His purpose. Well worth your while, it is to solve the question. And oh! if your sorrow is the means of showing you your sin, of bringing you to Jesus, of causing you know saving Faith and Grace; if it makes you seek those pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore great reason will you have to thank Him that He even took your son, that through your depths of sorrow you might attain to heights of joy.