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JULY REFLECTION
All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. "No," he said, "I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave." So his father wept for him. 
Genesis 37:35

Joseph, the son of Jacob, was alive, but his father thought he was dead. And a part of Jacob no longer wanted to live. His heart was broken.
 
Perhaps you can relate.

Cris with Josh McDowell on the set of Undaunted

In 2008, I interviewed noted Christian apologist and author Josh McDowell in preparation for writing a book and making a movie about his early life (Undaunted). Growing up, Josh had an alcoholic father who abused his mother for many years. Ultimately, she gave up hope, and gave up on life. “She died of a broken heart,” Josh told me.
 
¡Ay de mí! as Spanish-speakers say, Woe is me! There certainly is pain in our world. Sometimes, it seems more than we can bear. And when tragedy strikes, or an intractable situation worsens, it can be hard to see any rays of sunlight on the horizon. At such times, it’s understandable that one might wish to let go and surrender to the deep… to “long for death more than hidden treasure” as Job said (Job 3:21).
 
I remember how years ago, while living in Virginia Beach, I had reached the end of my own rope with several family crises. Among them was the dire situation with my nineteen-year-old son, Daniel, who had been involuntarily committed the year before to the state mental hospital in Williamsburg. His diagnosis was schizoaffective disorder, and the prognosis was not good. Acutely delusional, Daniel was being kept in isolation in the hospital due to assaults on staff and other patients. He was what they call “treatment refractory,” and I was powerless to help.
 
I wanted my son to be in his right mind; to come home again. But as the weeks and months dragged on, my hopes dimmed. It seemed even God was silent. Not unlike Job, I mourned daily: “Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house, when the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me…” (Job 29:4,5).
 
I often found refuge—and maintained my own sanity, I think—by taking long walks through wooded areas and parks. One day, I found myself in a broad, open field surrounded by trees. I imagined it as a field of battle from centuries past, when armies marched in ranks toward each other before shooting and fighting somewhere near the middle.

The troops advance in Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, 1975

Something rose inside me that day—a warrior spirit, I’d like to believe—as I clenched my fists and shouted to the heavens: “Satan will rue the day he took on my son! He will pay!”
 
If angels and demons hover above, watching the deeds of men below, I must have appeared a real pipsqueak out there on that field, but I was a determined pipsqueak. I think I still am—twenty years later.
 
I believe the biblical Jacob stayed determined, too, in spite of all his kvetching. More than twenty years passed from the time he learned of his son’s “death” until he discovered that Joseph was very much alive in Egypt—and prosperous, too. The Bible tells us that when Joseph saw his father, “he threw his arms around him and wept for a long time” (Genesis 46:29), while Jacob, well into his 100s, replied, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”
 
Around the time I was writing the screenplay for Undaunted, I had an experience one night that altered the course of my life. I was still living in Mexico, mourning my son’s “exile” to a psychiatric hospital outside Puebla. My prayers—I felt—were not being answered, and Daniel’s condition was growing steadily worse. I didn’t know what to think or what to feel. I had committed my life to the Lordship of Christ twenty-six years previously. I couldn’t imagine turning away from him now. As Peter famously said, “Where else shall we go?” But my heart was breaking! It seemed there was no help to be found! No solution! No answer! No miracle!

¡Ay de mí!

A mountain stream in Avándaro, Mexico, near where I lived

Behind the house where I lived in Avándaro was a mountain stream, gurgling softly over rocks and low-hanging tree branches. I loved the sound that stream made. I loved standing beside it and watching the water flow by. It brought comfort to my heart.
 
As I stood there one night looking up at the stars, I felt God speaking to me. I felt his reassurance that, one day, Daniel would be perfectly well; that his illness was but for a season. I might not find him healed and in his right mind this side of the Great Divide, but no one would deny me a joyful reunion with my son in the life to come. We call it—in the Christian faith—the resurrection. And in that moment, a dam burst inside me. Resentment, doubt, hurt, woe… all of that and more were swept downstream and a peace beyond understanding came over me (Philippians 4:6).
 
Daniel is still in a hospital—now, here where I live in Minnesota—but I don’t fret much anymore. Or kvetch. For one thing, he's getting better… still afflicted, but better. We speak by phone daily, and often pray together. “I love you, Dad,” he typically says as our calls draw to a close.
 
“I love you, too, Daniel.”
 
And I treasure this thought: A resurrection is coming when all things will be made new; when “sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isaiah 51:11). Edgar Page Stites, a hymn writer of the 19th Century, wrote of “Beulah Land,” a place where we will be reunited with our Josephs (and our Jacobs). The years of gall and bitterness will not even be a memory there, and how can human time measure the length of that first embrace with our loved ones?
 
I got a glimpse, a foretaste, of Beulah Land in 2008—in Mexico under the stars beside an ever-flowing stream. There, by God’s grace, I found strength for tomorrow. 
 
“Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
 
With love and respect,

O Beulah land, sweet Beulah land!
As on thy highest mount I stand,
I look away across the sea
Where mansions are prepared for me
And view the shining glory shore
My heaven, my home forever more.
 
No, I didn't come down ill. To quote Jon Lovitz' "Master Thespian" from Saturday Night Live... "Acting!" On set two weeks ago in Minneapolis as filming of Let Me Have My Son continues.

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Cristóbal Krusen is a filmmaker and author. He founded Messenger Films in 1988.
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