Grieving and Lamenting

joshua

I am feeling like a wreck.  Then I feel sad, but okay.   Then I swing back to being an emotional wreck.

At the same time, it still doesn’t seem real.  Reality is funny that way.  We spend our lives watching television shows that use violent crime investigations as story lines, but never expect to see our own family caught up in the horror of a family member actually being the victim of a violent crime.

In my mind I like to think of you walking up to the pearly gates where you see the familiar faces of Papa and Mike waiting to welcome you to your heavenly home.  I can only imagine the capers the three of you will be getting up to together!

Questions flood through my mind.  All of the “what ifs”?  What if I had been more connected to you in our adult years.  What if someone else had been with you that night.  What if they never catch the person who did this?  But I find comfort in these scriptures:

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. – Romans 12:19 (NIV)

and:

How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, and again, “The Lord will judge his people. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:29-31 (NIV)

which are both referencing Deuteronomy 32:34-36:

“Have I not kept this in reserve and sealed it in my vaults?  It is mine to avenge; I will repay.  In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.”  The Lord will vindicate his people     and relent concerning his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free.

Justice is in the hands of God.  We can’t do anything to change what has happened and we may not ever be able to see justice served for you here on earth.  God is still in control.  We must place this into his hands.  All that we can do is pray for this enemy, as Jesus teaches us in Matthew 5:43-45:

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Memories have been flooding back to me over the past few days of the childhood times spent with you, dear cousin of mine.  You were an incredibly big-hearted guy who loved to be goofy and make people laugh.  There was a lot of laughter in those days.

I can remember trick or treating with you and going to the Halloween parties at McDonald’s.  We spent hours giggling about Weird Al songs.  And who could forget watching The Bride of Boogedy over and over again.  We wanted to have ” a THIRD eye!”

Times spent in the swimming pool, going to see Christmas shows, lights, and Christmas Land.  Making up our own “shows” and performing them for your mom.  Trips to family reunions and amusement parks.  Big family gatherings during the holidays.  Happy times.  Innocent times.

Before adulthood, grownup problems, and this world’s demons caught up to us.

You fought a brave battle little cousin with the demons and addictions that you faced.   Some times you were successful, and other times not so much.  But we have always loved you!  God has always loved you.  And we know that you loved God as well.

We may never know what happened that early morning.  We are struggling to make sense of the reality of losing you.  We just can’t fathom how someone could do this to you.  But we cling to the promises of our heavenly Father, claiming them for you and for all of us still here in this realm:

“The Lord is King for ever and ever;
    the nations will perish from his land.
 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted;
    you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
    so that mere earthly mortals
    will never again strike terror.” –  Psalm 10:16-18 (NIV)

Although your life was cut short too soon, we are seeing that you left a big impact on all of those who knew you.  The outpouring of messages from all the different people you knew all mentioned how kind and supportive you always were for each of them.   You touched so many lives in a positive way, spreading love in the midst of your own struggles.

You have finally overcome the battles you faced in this life sweet Cousin.  The demons of this life can’t hold you or harm you any more.  We may never see your big giant grin again, but we cherish all of the memories we have made with you.  Rest easy, Joshua, finding peace with our Father in Heaven.

Until we meet again in the next life, go rest high on that mountain.

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