Seasons of Sorrow: ‘God is Truly With Us’

Tim Challies' son died suddenly at 20 years old. Recently, Challies turned his blog posts into a book that aims to help others grieve the loss of a child.

By Nancy Flory Published on October 5, 2022

Nick Challies was a firstborn child. He was kind and responsible. He was one of those kids who made it easy to be a parent. At 20 years old, Nick died suddenly while at a sports activity with friends. For the first year following his death, his father, Tim, a pastor and author, blogged about losing Nick. Now Tim Challies has turned the stories into a book. Seasons of Sorrow: The Pain of Loss and the Comfort of God was released last month. 

Seasons of Sorrow

“He was a joy,” Tim told The Stream in an interview. Nick, who was engaged to be married at the time of his death, came to faith at a young age and was planning to become a pastor. He was attending The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, when he collapsed.

On the plane from his home in Canada to Kentucky, Tim began to write. “I didn’t have to write a book, but I did have to write because writing is just how I think. I don’t really know what I believe until I write about it. It’s just the way I process ideas, the way I work things out. And so, right away after my loss, I started writing.”

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Tim’s accounting of the loss of his son is raw and vulnerable. “I’ve been writing online for 20 years now. … And one of the things I’ve always wanted to do was be real.” Tim explained that much of what we read online just doesn’t reflect reality. He didn’t want to make the loss of his son “worse than it was, to act as if this was truly the end of my life or the end of my usefulness to God. … I’d rather just be real.”

‘God is Powerful’

Tim’s knowledge of God was put to the test.

I think we realize when we experience a great loss, that we may need to renovate our understanding of God a little bit. … Shortly after Nick died, I really had to confront the fact that God is powerful. That whatever had happened, this wasn’t outside of God’s will. It wasn’t outside of God’s plan. This wasn’t a mistake. This wasn’t a surprise. Satan hadn’t intervened in such a way that God had been taken by surprise. I had to trust that God knew this was going to happen, or God ordained even, that this was going to happen.

Tim also had what he calls an unhealthy fear of God. He wondered if he was going to suffer other losses. “I did have to confront that fear and ultimately, just to be willing to pray to God “Your Will be done, God. Your Will be done.'” He had to learn to trust that God is not only strong and powerful, but also good — and is doing good things in this world that matter and are significant.

‘He Won’t Leave Us’

He wants people to understand that, even though they had a great loss, they can get through to the other side. “You can do this. You can go through this. And I think that’s part of the value of having other people who have been through this particular loss come alongside us to say, ‘We’ve been there. And you know what? This wasn’t the end for us. We smile again. We laugh again. We find joy in life again.’ You won’t ever stop loving the person who died and, and neither should you, but you won’t always feel the grief, feel the loss as poignantly as you do right now.”

Tim hopes people gain confidence that God is with us. “He’s truly with us in our sorrows. He’s true to every promise. He won’t leave us, he won’t forsake us. He will be the good shepherd Who accompanies us all the way through those valleys of the shadow of death that we face in life.”

 

Nancy Flory, Ph.D., is a senior editor at The Stream. You can follow her @NancyFlory3, and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

Randy Robison, host of Life Today Live recently interviewed Tim Challies about his story. The video is available here.

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