I was mesmerized when I first laid eyes on Tori. My heart was bursting with joy and pride as I admired her beautiful features and praised God for her health. Never did it occur to me that her time with us would possibly be short. In fact, even as her symptoms began to appear and we inched closer to a diagnosis, losing her wasn’t my predominant thought. But, as much as we protested our reality, she was with us just twenty short months before Krabbe sealed her fate.
About a month post-diagnosis, we made the decision to embrace what time we had left with Tori and to be joyful. We handed the reins over to God, ever praying for a miraculous healing, and decided to give her the best earthly life we could.
The loss of a child is devastating, but even so, there can be joy. Even so, there can be abundant life. Even so, it can be well with your soul if you trust Him who loves you completely. Being well in your soul doesn’t mean that things are perfect, or that you pretend to not be in pain. It simply means that you trust Jesus more than you fear your circumstances. After all, if we can trust Him when things are good, we should trust Him even more when things are less than ideal!
You may never understand on this side of eternity why your precious baby left you so soon, but you can have full faith and confidence in the One who knows all, and you can know without a doubt that He loves you deeply. He is the only One who can provide the comfort you seek.
Some days are truly a struggle and we have to make a choice to be joyful, to remember their life with gratitude. In those moments, I find it helpful to focus on who God is and to remember that God is still God, even when we have no idea what His plan may be. I do this in two ways: by remembering what God’s Word says is true, and by focusing on eternity.
Remembering What is True
The enemy tries to make us feel afraid, overcome with sorrow, and filled with guilt and regret. He wants us to feel like failures, like we are unworthy of God’s love and grace, like somehow this is our fault. It’s easy to allow our minds to focus on what might have been in-stead of what actually is, but when we remind ourselves of God’s truth and His promises, when we speak truth in the middle of our fear and sorrow, we can overcome these things.
We must remember…
• To choose to focus on what is true (Philippians 4:8), including the reality of your child’s presence in Heaven – and that YOUR future residence is also in Heaven (John 3:16).
• That everything God does is for good (Romans 8:28).
• That God is sovereign, faithful, loves you, and IS love.
• That He is still God even when you can’t see His hand working.
• To set our minds on things above (Colossians 3:1-3).
• To choose joy and be grateful in all circumstances (1 Thess. 5:16-18).
• That God knows the number of days we will live on earth (Job 14:5, Psalm 139:16) and that death is inevitable (Revelation 21:4; Ecclesiastes 3:1-2a., 8:8). We cannot stop it.
Focusing on Eternity
And that’s the beauty of our faith, the beauty of knowing that we weren’t created for this world: there’s more to come. Death is only the beginning for us! Scripture repeatedly discusses death as something to be celebrated, something we as believers should anticipate with “eager hope” because it means we will be with Jesus and other believers FOREVER.
One of the truths I remember daily is that Tori is no longer confined in a broken body that couldn’t function properly—as her mother,
knowing that she is free makes me so happy! The course of Krabbe in her life was inevitable, so the hope and joy of heaven is indescribable (1 Corinthians 15:42–44, 50–58). We live daily with the assurance that Tori is more alive now than she ever was! She is healed, she is whole, and she is healthy. Praise Jesus.
By keeping our focus on eternity, by remembering that we were never meant to stay on earth forever, by embracing our future home and choosing to look forward to it with expectation, then, as a result, death becomes a little less sad.
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.”
When we, as followers of Jesus, are living with eternity in mind, our earthly perspective on death will shift from sorrow to joy. How is this possible? Because we also know that this earth isn’t our home; it isn’t where we belong. Death is NOT the end of our existence. We are only here for a short time to form a relationship with God and to preach the Gospel so that all might be saved through Him. We are here to prepare for eternity.
The anticipation of my reunion with Tori brings such excitement, even though I have no idea how long it will be until we are together again. All I know is that it will feel as if no time has passed at all since heaven doesn’t operate within the rules of time we know.
Does all of this mean that I shouldn’t cry when I miss her? Of course not. However, I do believe that having a biblical perspective on death and heaven eases the blow of her absence, and it brings me peace that cannot be otherwise explained. Heaven, along with the knowledge that we’ll be reunited with our loved ones (who also knew Jesus), removes the sting of death, one thorn at a time.
Praise Jesus for His grace and mercy that make this possible.
~ Lesa Brackbill
Mother of Victoria “Tori” Brackbill (7/30/14 – 3/27/16)
Thank You for the promise of eternal life with You in Heaven for those who follow You.
Thank You for Your sacrifice on the cross that made this our reality and our hope.
Thank You for the beautiful children You have placed into our care, even if just for a short time.
In the moments when we feel that the burden is too much, please bring us peace and comfort that only You can provide.
Remind us of who You are, what You’ve done, and what’s in store for us.
Lord, continue to teach us about what’s to come, about the incredible place we will call home for eternity.
May we allow Your Word to guide us in all things, especially death.
1 Peter 5:7
Cast all your anxiety on Him
because He cares for you.