Prayer After My Son’s Funeral

Today I ran for the first time since my son Caleb died. It was a short run (three miles) and I prayed for most of the first mile. It was a prayer for understanding, a prayer of lament, a prayer of thanksgiving. The last eight days have been quite busy. As I mentioned in my last post, we hosted a wake that many of his friends and co-workers in Southeast Georgia attended. We then traveled to middle Tennessee for the funeral. The love of extended family and the family of faith made the experience easier, but did not dispel totally the hole now torn in my heart. Several preacher friends and a man who had attended my “Call for Fire Seminar” in Afghanistan encouraged me with their presence also. A friend who sang in a college choir with me preached the funeral; he delivered an encouraging eulogy from the first eight verses and last four verses of Isaiah 40, as well as Matthew 7:7-11, where Jesus says,

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock; and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him?”

Those words might seem empty; I prayed nightly for my children’s health and safety. However, as I discussed with God in my prayer this afternoon, his will does not have to align with ours, and we may overlook or misunderstand the answers he gives our prayers. I know now that I hurt. There is an empty space in my family that cannot be filled in the same way that my son filled it. Nevertheless, I remember that Jesus, the Son of God, prayed the night before his crucifixion that he might be spared, but he was not. I have learned from the prayers in the Bible that prayer does not function like a debit card. The verses from Matthew do not teach that God gives us what we want.

I ran today, and prayed. Those disciplines refreshed and renewed me. They did not remove all my pain; each used physical or spiritual muscles that ached afterwards. It will take time to heal from this loss, and I suspect that my posts may reflect my grief. I know, too, that I have gained empathy for others who have lost children. I spoke after my friend spoke at the funeral. I began by telling how when I was eight years old I attended my grandfather’s funeral. His mother, my great-grandmother, sat beside me. She took my hand in hers and said, “Mike, no one should have to go to their son’s funeral.” My great-grandmother spoke truth that day. Pray in your sorrow with assurance, as I do, that God hears even when it seems that he does not. Pray with faith that God will act for your good, even if what you receive is not what you desire. Pray, and continue to pray even when it seems painful to do so. Remember that you are not alone. I concluded my address by singing the song I sang to my son when he was a baby, “O, how he loves you and me.” Yes, God loves us, even in the darkest season when we may not perceive his presence. Pray hard, my friends.

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About Michael Summers

Michael Waymon Summers has preached in twenty-seven of the United States as well as seven other countries. He currently preaches for a Church of Christ in Leavenworth, Kansas. Michael earned a Master of Theology degree. He also has done graduate work in international studies. Michael runs more than twenty miles most weeks, loves to sing, and reads voraciously.
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12 Responses to Prayer After My Son’s Funeral

  1. Raymond Richardson says:

    Sorry to hear about your loss my brother.

  2. Michael, everyone grieves differently. Be kind to yourself and take your time. Reading of your trust in God is a bright testimony and encouragement. Caleb would be proud to know you’ve chosen to trust no matter what has happened.

    Blessings ~ Wendy ❀

    • Wendy, thank you for your caring comments. Having helped others work through grief and having lost my father several years ago, I know this will be a long process. Thank you again for your concern.

  3. Heidi Viars says:

    Dearest Michael, recently we almost lost our son in an accident. As he was in a coma in ICU, we were not sure if God’s plans were to take him home. I remember so vividly getting only a small glimpse of that pain, as I surrendered him into God’s hands. I was only allowed to peer over the edge of that abyss of pain you must be finding yourself in. Please know I am praying as well as I know how to, knowing that God sees you.

  4. My heart goes out to you in your loss. May your close relationship with a loving God sustain and heal you and your family.

  5. This post tugged heavily at my heart; I cannot imagine such pain. The first funeral I attended was one where a mother and father laid to rest their Son. As you stated, it is something that shouldn’t be.

  6. Dianne Holst says:

    Michael, my heart aches for you and your family, grief is our way to heal yet as we go through it we find open challenges to deal with what has happened. Some days I struggle so much more when I forget that when I pick up the phone to call my parents to tell them of some great news or share in something that has been weighing on my heart and then I know… There are no phone lines to Heaven so I pray. I sometimes see them in my dreams and they are always good dreams. Once someone has passed on and we no longer have physical contact it takes away a part of our life that was us. So we start to build a bridge to get through the pain and know we will be together again at our Father’s Feet. We will walk through beautiful gardens and we will truly know Peace.
    Praying for you Dianne Holst

    • Thank you, Diane. It is painful to start to call a son or a father, only to remember that they have passed away. Memories of them strengthen my resolve to grow as a disciple, however, so that perhaps we may talk again. Thank you again for your caring and beautiful remarks.

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