JOHNSON: On Processing The Loss Of Luke Letlow

A lot of people today are struggling to process grief, loss, and the untimely passing of family and friends, and I feel compelled to share what I discussed with my 10 year old as I tucked him in last night.

Kelly and I had all our kids at home watching a family movie when I got the first call about Luke. I was stunned and at a loss for words in a way that my children never see. We prayed together for the Letlows and everyone affected, and for the next few hours my family all stayed together in the living room quietly and respectfully as my phone rang and buzzed nonstop.

I took a break around 10:30 pm to get Will to bed because I could tell he was unsettled by it all. I prayed with him again and we talked about the frailty of life, and the blessed assurance we have of knowing what is next.

“Luke was a believer like you,” I assured Will. “So while we mourn his loss and grieve with his precious family, we also celebrate the fact that he is in Heaven.”

We discussed again how that child who was born on Christmas day was the greatest gift for us all. The Son of God ultimately took upon Himself the sin of the world, and was crucified, dead and buried—but rose again as our triumphant Savior. Will knows what that means.

As the Apostle Paul summarized (in Romans 10:8-13): “[T]hat is the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’ For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’”

I reminded my son last night that while grieving is part of our human experience, the Lord mourns with us (Isaiah 53:4) and always remains close to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18). And that free gift of eternal life is the great Truth that allows us to keep our perspective even in the darkest hours.

My fourth grader, who has become an expert in diagramming sentences, went to sleep with the calming reminder that death is not a period—but merely a comma. All of us can sleep with the same assurance.

As Paul proclaimed (in 1 Cor. 15: 54-58): “‘Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ …thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you.”

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us,” he wrote (Romans 8:37-39). “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

A good friend of ours told me last night that Luke was drawn even closer to the Lord in his final days. Luke called this trusted prayer warrior on Saturday to share briefly about an experience he had on Friday night–where Luke said he felt the certain presence of God and His great peace.

Luke Letlow knew the Truth. It’s the same Truth that is available to all. I believe he would have wanted you to know that. And be at peace.

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