My little brother went to heaven sixteen years ago today.
Most people don’t know my sister and I even had a little brother—he was stillborn so early, at only sixteen weeks. But we could tell he was a boy, which our mom had already sensed. And he is still an unseen part of our family, our Sven Christian, remembered mostly quietly, in yellow roses and at this time of year, when he was born into Jesus’ arms.
My sister and I got talking about him this morning, about how he would be going on sixteen now—not a little boy anymore, and probably a great addition to our family theater company’s current group of teen boys in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. We still need another “brother” in our cast.
Somehow it made me miss Sven more than I have in some time. And in church this morning, singing and confessing alongside my family, I struggled anew with “why.” Why did this member of our family, this son and brother, get taken from us so tiny? Why didn’t we get to know him on this earth—or the two other babies our parents also lost in the same few-year period? Why do we almost have more family members in heaven than here with us now?
My mind could answer my questions, and I reminded myself that we live in a fallen world, that death is a tragic part of that, and that really, this life is only a blip in relation to eternity, which we will share forever with Sven and the rest of our loved ones.
But my heart still wrestled, and I couldn’t seem to stop it.
The picture that came to my mind, though, was of Jesus with two other sisters whose brother had died. Jesus did bring Lazarus back to life for Mary and Martha, but first He was just there with them. And more than that, He cried with them. Death and loss, those elements of this world that came through our turning away from Him, grieved His heart with the pain of those He loved, even though He was going to make it all right.
And that is where my heart found rest—not in understanding why, but just in laying my head on His shoulder and knowing He cares. That He has not spared Himself suffering and pain anymore than He spares us, and that while we may not understand until heaven why He allows what He does, we cannot doubt that He loves us. That He cries with us when we cry. And that someday, He is going to make everything okay.
Sven is experiencing that already.