December 31, 2022

In 2022, I (Jeff Teichert) decided to choose a word to focus on for the year. The word that kept coming to me as I thought about the choice was "sanctify."

Little did I know at the time that 2022 would bring painful losses in three generations of my family--including my son. When my good friend, Jack Brotherson, lost a son in his twenties in a tragic car accident, he said "I've never begrudged God anything He asked of me. But I never thought I would be asked to tithe a son." Of course there are biblical precedents where Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac or where God, Himself, gave His Only Begotten Son. We all call God "Father." But Yeshua was his Only "Begotten" Son.

In the course of my adult life, I have collected a few children who call me "Dad" or think of me in that way. I love each of them and I am grateful for them. But I only have two "begotten" children. To lose one of them at age 24 is very difficult.

As some of you know, my father and I both lost our mothers in 2022. My grandmother was almost 103 years old. My mother was 86 years old when she died two days before Christmas 2022.

What sanctifies a loss as significant as a parent, a grandparent, or a child? I believe it is sanctifying to humbly declare that God knows best and to say, as Yeshua did, "not my will but thine be done."

I also believe that some wounds are sanctifying. For the rest of my life, I will carry a wound in my heart for the loss of my beloved son. Of course it will heal and become a scar. But it will never go away. I don't want it to go away. A wound in my heart is a reminder of the love I have for my son. When we give our pain that meaning, it is beautiful . . .and sanctified. Jesus Christ chose to keep the wounds in His hands as a reminder of His loving sacrifice for the rest of us. Even before His birth He prophesied the meaning of the tokens in His hands saying "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands" (Isaiah 49:16).

I do not suggest that anyone just sit around and focus on grief for 40 years like Queen Victoria did. That's neither healthy nor productive. But, a wound in your heart will surface from time to time and give you a moment of tears, even years later. I have experienced this from time to time, even recently, in relation to my little brother's death 29 years ago. I suggest that those tears are sanctifying and symbolic of bonds that are stronger than the cords of death.

After 2022, I better understand (though on a much smaller scale) what it was like for God to sacrifice His Only Begotten Son. I had no choice in the matter. It was a lesson I wouldn't have chosen and didn't want to learn. But our love for God and willingness to let go of anything He asks from us, trusting that He knows best, is sanctifying. To sanctify means to "make holy." Consecration of that which we love to God makes it holy, and it makes us holy.

I don't mind saying that I hope I never have another year like 2022. But I will hold these losses in my heart and keep them close for the rest of my life.
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