I was privileged to attend Camp TAG (Teaching About Grief) for the third year in a row. Camp TAG was started to help grieving youth. The whole idea of grieving youth really disturbs me. Yet it is a reality of the world in which we live. A world in which sickness takes the lives of so many without regard to age, gender, or race. Some of the kids who attend camp have lost their moms or dads to illness, some have parents who have an addiction and others have no parents at all.
The highlight of Camp TAG is the memorial service, which this year was held on Friday July 22. During this service, we gathered in a large outdoor pavilion. There was a table set up with candles and photos of loved ones. Young campers and older campers got up to light a candle in remembrance of their loved one. There were many tears and some huddled together to comfort one another.
After the memorial service, the young campers gathered on the basketball court outside the pavilion. Each camper received a miniature hot air balloon made out of fabric. On the outside of the balloon, the camper had written a note to their loved one that they were remembering. We opened up the balloon and lit the inside fabric. Soon the balloon expanded and launched into the sky. It was exciting to see the young campers as they watched their prayers and letters ascend into the heavens.
I learned that day that the young campers weren't the only ones grieving. In fact I met a man whose son committed suicide and a woman whose son was murdered. I think everyone who attended camp was grieving in some way.
When God stepped into humanity in the person of Jesus Christ, he didn't come to be exalted. He came to suffer and share our deepest pain. He experienced it first hand when he was crucified for all our sins. Just like the miniature balloons that we sent off into the sky, Jesus Himself ascended to the Father in Heaven (Luke 24:51). However, now that He is glorified He isn't limited to any particular location. The King of the Kingdom is alive living in all those who yield to Him. As noted by the apostle Paul:
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20 NKJV first part).
People often ask, "Where was God?" when something bad happens. But I prefer to say, "God is present wherever and whenever something good happens." I do believe He showed up at Camp TAG living in those who yield to Christ and working through the Holy Spirit even in those who may not know it.
I look forward to the time in which children will no longer grieve. A time when children will be happy and never suffer. A time when the King and His Kingdom will reign throughout a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1-3).
The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets’ (Zechariah 8:5 NKJV).
Lord Jesus come.