Our son, Chad, was born 30 years ago today (May 3rd). How we wish we were making his favorite dinner and scrambling to find the right gift. For 25 years we were blessed to watch Chad grow physically, socially, academically, and spiritually. He will be forever 25 years old in our thoughts. Today we will cry; we will recall treasured memories; we will look at pictures; and we will hold each other, especially Chase, a little closer. We will allow ourselves to remember and smile through our tears.
Every day we miss Chad. Every day we long for him. Every day we wish he were here. At times life is empty without his laugh, his smile, his mischief, his spark. We had expectations for Chad’s life, of what his pastoral ministry would be like, of growing old and watching God use Chad and Courtney as they served others, of seeing how they would rear their children. At times it has been with great sadness that we have let go of our dreams. We are learning that joy and sadness can coexist. While Chad walked his earthly journey, he walked in truth. That continues to bring us joy (3 John 4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.).
God knew the days of the lives of our children, and He is in charge of our time here on earth. (Matthew 6:27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?) I am reminded of other young men who entered eternity before their 30th birthday—David Brainerd was 29, William Borden was 25, Jim Elliot was 28, and Robert Murray M’Cheyne was 29 years old. Just as God continues to use these men, we pray the prayer of the Apostle Paul found in Philippians 1:20. Our prayer is that God will continue to use Chad’s life and testimony to make a difference in the lives of others and magnify His name. (Philippians 1:20b Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.)
The death of our children has changed us forever. Letting go is not a possibility. Less than a year before Chad was ushered into heaven, he preached a sermon entitled The Purpose of Suffering. His second point was “Always, suffering is to convince you that Jesus is enough (Psalm 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.).” As Chad concluded this message he made the following statement. “There are many things I hope you remember from tonight, but first and foremost I want you to remember that against all the logic and against the background of the acknowledgment that God is sovereign and intensely providential, suffering in this world occurs in order for people to understand that Jesus is enough!”
So today, as we remember the wonderful change that came into our lives 30 years ago, we are thankful for the ongoing changes the Lord is making in our lives. We want to be defined by the joy and peace found in Christ alone—not by the losses in our lives. Truly Jesus has been, and continues to be, enough.
If we could converse with Chad, we would say, “Happy Birthday, Chad! We miss you. We are thankful for you. We are finding that Jesus is more than enough. We are rejoicing that your earthly ministry continues to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Written by Mom (Linda Phelps)