Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46
When Hugh and DeeDee released their only child to heaven, they struggled with what to call themselves in the aftermath. There’s no specific word in the English language to describe a parent who has lost a child. A wife without her husband is a widow. A husband without his wife is a widower. A child bereft of parents is an orphan. A parent whose child has died is an undefined hollow of hurt.
Miscarriage. Sudden infant death. Suicide. Illness. Accident. Death steals a child from this world and then robs the surviving parents of an expressed identity.
Yet God Himself understands such devastating grief as His only Son, Jesus, called to Him while dying on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). God was Father before Jesus’ earthly birth and remained Father when Jesus released His final breath. God continued as Father when the still body of His Son was laid in a tomb. God lives on today as Father of a risen Son who brings every parent the hope that a child can live again.
What do you call a heavenly Father who sacrifices His Son for the universe? For you and for me? Father. Still, Father. When there are no words in the glossary of grief to describe the pain of loss, God is our Father and calls us His children (1 John 3:1).
How does it shape your heart to realize that God remains your Father and calls you His child—always? How might this thought comfort you?
Dear heavenly Father, thank You for being my Father and claiming me as Your child.
Read Life After Loss.
Jesus uttered seven sayings from the cross, which were directed both horizontally and vertically. The horizontal statements were addressed to the people at the cross, including His words of comfort to His mother (John 19:26–27) and His words of assurance to the dying thief (Luke 23:43). At least four of the sayings were vertical in nature, serving as prayers. Jesus prayed for mercy for His killers (v. 34), expressed His sense of personal abandonment by the Father (Matthew 27:46), declared that He’d completed the sin-bearing task (John 19:30), and dismissed His spirit back to the Father (Luke 23:46). The seventh statement, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28), has been interpreted both horizontally and vertically. While some view the words as a request to people for a drink (horizontal), others view it vertically as Jesus requesting from the Father the cup He’d sought to escape in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39).