My husband and I attended our first military funeral service recently. A 23-year-old young man died in Iraq after his vehicle struck a roadside bomb while serving with the United States Army. He was the son of a co-worker and friend.
It seems amazing to me that this would be the first military funeral service for us since so many people we know are deployed. This is good news because it means the number of soldiers surviving is greater than the number of soldiers dying. It is also amazing to me because our first military funeral could very well have been that of our own son.
Due to the seating arrangement in the church, I was able to clearly see the faces of this young man’s family, especially his mom. Sliding quietly into the front pew between loved ones, she seemed to be drained of all feeling. Before long, though, she was at the mercy of an assortment of emotions that would quickly overtake her and then leave just as suddenly.
When they spoke of this son’s exemplary military service, her face beamed with a strong pride. I shed tears thinking of her exemplary service in support of her son and yet, was comforted to know my son lived to be supported still.
When they spoke of this son’s humorous ways, she enjoyed a brief moment of laughter. I smiled deeply as I felt her rare joy and yet, was sad that she would not share that laughter with her son like I could continue to do with mine.
When they spoke of the family being notified of this son’s death, she began sobbing uncontrollably. I silently cried with her as I felt her grief and yet, was grateful that our notice held no such permanence.
Two moms. Two sons. Two lives… the same and yet, so very different.
Circumstances can bind people together who never knew each other existed before that one certain moment in time when their worlds came crashing together. This felt like a collision to me. It was as if this mom’s moment in time became my moment for a short time. I wondered how that could be and the Lord was faithful to answer.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV) “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”
Verse 4 in The Message reads: “He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.”
God has invested His compassion in me, not only for my benefit, but also for those around me. His comfort was crucial in my time of need when my son was injured in Iraq and He poured it out in abundance so I would have enough for that day and enough to share another day. This day.
The Bible also says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15 - NIV) Sharing the sadness eases the burden; makes it light enough to get through the trial.
I was honored to attend our first military funeral; to recognize this son’s sacrifice and to be an extension of God’s comfort for his mom. And yet… I pray it is our last.