Hope in the midst of tragedy
Catherine Barker can still picture 7-year-old Samuel’s “jaunty run.” With arms outstretched, jacket flying and rain boots splashing through the field behind their South Wales home, Samuel’s cheeky grin radiates pure joy. But as quickly as Samuel is there, his image fades into a memory. Just eleven months ago, Samuel was involved in a traffic accident outside their home. Samuel did not survive, and his mother’s grief is still raw.
“Words can’t describe how I was feeling that first night. But God put joy into my heart to the point that I was actually smiling eight hours after it happened. That’s not human. No amount of human willpower can do that, it was just from God.”
“What put that smile on my face is the assurance of where Samuel is. As a parent, you’re never happier than your saddest child. If your child is unwell, you hurt too. Samuel will never be my saddest child. To a grieving mother’s heart that is the best balm you can give. I do get really, really sad, and I miss him. But what I can also do is tell myself the fact that he’s not lost. He’s with Jesus.”
Through her suffering, God has caused the reality of the hope we have in being saved by Jesus to grow in Catherine. Now, more than ever, she clings to God’s promise to restore all things.
“This world is a shadow, a beautiful shadow, but a shadow nonetheless of what is to come. Life is very precious, but life is not all there is. My experience of suffering has widened the difference between this life and how brilliant heaven is going to be – no death, no grieving, no distractions from our own broken desires. We will be pure and perfect, because of what Jesus has done for us, standing in the holy presence of God.”
Though her grief runs deep, Catherine’s joy and hope run deeper. Through the loss of her precious son, Catherine’s relationship with Jesus is her lifeline to wake up in the morning, snuggle with her sons, laugh with her husband and comfort Samuel’s friends. It is what will keep her as she faces their first Christmas without Samuel.
At the age of six, Samuel wrote a Psalm (a Christian poem). In squiggly pencil handwriting, he captured the purity of God’s love for His people. After his death, Samuel’s Psalm circulated throughout the local community, the national media and beyond. We share this Psalm with you today so that you can see how simple and wonderful it is to believe in Jesus.