Mother's Day is a day where mothers are celebrated and honoured, yet for some it's a day of sadness and grief. In this very moving and raw conversation a couple share the pain of losing a child and its impact on their life and faith.
John Risbridger lives in Southampton, England and serves as Minister and Team Leader at Above Bar Church. He has worked in churches and student ministry for many years, is a prolific speaker and author, and his Twitter profile says he’s passionate about Jesus, running and making curry and cream teas!
Alison Risbridger works alongside John at Above Bar church. She is a skilled teacher and works in a number of areas across the church including children’s groups, students and women’s ministries and engages international guests at a weekly language café.
This Bigger Questions conversation was recorded at Belgrave Heights Convention during Summer Convention 2018/19.
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Bigger Questions asked in the Conversation
So John and Alison - you’re involved in ‘Above bar’ church? What does that mean? Is this a connection to golf, the law or a pub?
Why the name?
Story of a loss of child
Well welcome to Australia and to Belgrave Heights. And thanks so much for being willing to come and share on Bigger Questions - because today’s question is a very big and personal one - the question of suffering and how to cope with the loss of a child.
Now this question is not merely a theoretical one for you both. Do you mind sharing your story? What happened?
What was the feeling like when you held him as he breathed his last?
Reflections on God
Fyodor Dostoyevsky said, “The death of a child is the greatest reason to doubt the existence of God.” Why do you think he said this?
Goodness of God?
But how could you accept God as good? Acclaimed author CS Lewis explored this in his book, ‘A Grief Observed’, writings he penned in the immediate days after the death of his wife. He cries out saying, ‘What reason have we, except our own desperate wishes, to believe that God is … ‘good’?’ Doesn’t all the prima facie evidence suggest exactly the opposite?’
Was that how you felt after the death of your boys?
Can you say that God is good even after all the suffering you’ve gone through?
The Bible’s answer
Psalm 46:1-2 in the Old Testament says,
God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
How did that resonate with you?
But how could you trust God when he caused you so much pain?
Isaiah 43:1–2 says,
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flames will not set you ablaze.
Did that give you hope?
The Big Question
So John and Alison, how do you deal with the loss of a child?