No one seeks grief. We sprint away from it. We skip the lament Psalms. We never know what to say or do in the face of loss, glancing awkwardly away from bereaved.
In his new book, Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God (Zondervan), Tim Challies chronicles a year of wrestling with the death of his 20-year-old son, Nicholas Paul Challies in November of 2020. During this agony, when words fail so many, Tim has given raw voice to his grief, asking the questions, processing the pain, and clinging in worship the Comforter.
…when that sorrow was still new in my heart, when the tears were still fresh in my eyes, when I barely knew up from down and here from there, I began to write. I had to write because I had to know what to think and what to believe, what to feel and what to do. I had to know whether to rage or to worship, whether to run or to bow, whether to give up or to go on. I had to know how to comfort my wife, how to console my daughters, how to shore up my own faith. I put fingers to keyboard and pen to paper to find out.Tim Challies, Seasons of Sorrow, prologue.
Seasons of Sorrow contains 42 short reflections on the first year without Nick, from the cold disbelief of that November phone call through the “final first” anniversary a year later. From choosing the last outfit for Nick’s burial to sorting through his dorm room, from Sunday visits at Nick’s grave to words of encouragement from Narnia, walk with Tim as he longs for his boy and for heaven, as he faithfully executes the stewardship of grief. Find comfort in Scripture, and stop to sing a snippet of a hymn. Lean on the holy, loving God.
This book is written for everyone. Parents who have lost a child, you will find yourself weeping with Tim. Friends struggling with the goodness of God in a broken world, you will meet here a fellow sufferer. Young pastors and servants of the Church, your heart will be tenderized in preparation for the care ahead of you. Older Saints, you will find a tool to speak faithfully to your friends and family of death and the ultimate Resurrection.
Don’t look away from the loss and grief you will encounter. Tim is inviting you to sit with his sorrow, to understand your own, and to savor the steadfast comfort he and Aileen are finding in the kindness of God.
Friends, the path ahead brings us to the feet of Jesus, just a tick behind Nick. Seasons of Sorrow will help us all better anticipate that day.
Tim has prepared some additional resources for parents suffering loss and those who care for them, and you can find them on his blog.
CityAlight, a (much appreciated!) ministry of St. Paul’s church in Sydney Australia has worked with Tim to write a song related to God’s comfort in sorrow. You can read a bit about the process and listen to this new hymn on Tim’s blog.