Sin, Death, and Grief
by Burk Parsons
My father was a veteran of World War II, the son of a small-town country preacher, school teacher, and sheriff, the son-in-law of the automobile manufacturer Preston Tucker, a fellow college graduate of Sam Walton, the leader of one of the first grass-roots movements to campaign for Ronald Reagan for president, and a father who grieved for many years over the loss of his first son who died at eighteen years of age. My father was a great man, but he never seemed to overcome the grief he experienced. I never understood the grief my father experienced over the loss of his first son until I was faced with a similar loss. The grief I experienced began with news that came early on a Sunday evening in September — my father had died. I was sixteen years old.
I didn’t know how to grieve. I couldn’t even bring myself to cry over his death until years later when I cried out to God asking Him why he had to take my father away from me. It wasn’t until I entered my twenties and began to learn what manhood is all about when I realized how much I needed my father. It was then, while in college, that I began to deal with the grief that had set in several years before. It was then that I understood the truth of Paul’s words to the Thessalonians when he wrote that we do not grieve as those who have no hope (1 Thess. 4:13). The way we grieve is different because the hope we possess is different. Our hope is not in ourselves. We would fail just as our first father failed, sinning against his Father, bringing grief and shame not only to himself but to the entire human race. For in Adam we all sinned, and in Adam we all died (Rom. 5:12). As a result, we suffer with grief every day of our lives — grief over the loss of others, over the sin of others, and over the sin within us.
However, our grief cannot even begin to be compared to the grief of the one who knew no sin. The Man of Sorrows became acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3) so that He might bear our grief and carry away our sorrows (v. 4). All this was done so that we might know our heavenly Father who loved us and gave His only-begotten Son, laying on Him the iniquity of us all, so that we might live eternally coram Deo, before His face, loving Him and enjoying Him forever. The first man sinned and grieved only for himself, but the second Man knew no sin yet grieved for us so that we would not grieve forever.