Last week another winter season ended on March 19th. Eleven years ago we left the hospital that night, snowflakes speckling the harsh lighting of the hospital as we walked to our cars. I had given birth to our son just hours before, and we left him in his cradle, brand-new pale blue hand-knit sweater on his sweet little body, and soft cap on his tiny, perfect head. It was the last time we would see him, our son’s birth day, and only day. He was buried in a small white casket a few days later. As his casket was lowered, harsh wind caused us to shiver and we held onto our hats, the wind was so bone-chilling cold and strong.
The months that followed were full of confusion, violent emotions and erratic sobbing episodes, if not from me, then from one of our four young children. After about a month, we saw the lives of family and friends go on, Jacob seemingly forgotten by all but us. I remained lost, allowing condemnation and grief to toss me around like those pale and brittle maple leaves that bounce on frozen ground, long after autumn has officially ended. Despite the love of constant friends, I felt I was in a place no one could understand. I felt alone.
It’s an important book, one that I could not find, despite desperate efforts, when I searched high and low for comfort and answers over a decade ago.
Pastor Lusko has achieved great things for God. He determined at a young age to take risks for God, and those risks have resulted in tremendous fruit as his churches and ministries have thrived. Through The Eyes of A Lion reflects his unique integration of culture into his teachings. References from Starbucks to Broadway shows and Disney movies are used in illustrations with biblical tie-ins. His writing is vulnerable, perceptive and securely anchored in Truth.
Many of Pastor Lusko’s experiences surrounding the loss of his daughter, Lenya “Lion” were similar to mine as we walked through the trauma and devastation of a child torn from our lives without warning. He describes death in it’s full brutality, and pulls God into the heart-wrenching grief process. He doesn’t sugarcoat death with platitudes. Just as my interest in the reality of heaven became utmost in my mind after our son’s death, Pastor Lusko was drawn to what Scripture, and many other sources studying Scripture, said about heaven. The book explains and teaches the theology that comforted and challenged him.
I was surprised and encouraged by the turn that Through The Eyes of A Lion took after so many stories about loss, and survival through it, were told. Pastor Lusko stopped looking back and began to be concerned that we all look ahead. His theme, which started out as “You, too, can survive, and even spiritually thrive, through trauma” extended to “…and be prepared and able to do the unique things that God is calling you to do as a result of, not in spite of, your loss.” Wow.
This book is honest, and you see that your struggles and pain aren’t unique, that others have walked the convoluted, feet-knocked-from-beneath-you path.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”
Levi Lusko validates your pain and longs for your comfort as he knows what it was like to receive his.
As importantly, it reaches up and pulls down grace and hope, promising that God loves, because it’s author knows this first-hand. It offers a future with purpose of infinite importance. After you read this book, keep it accessible to share. Buy a copy to give. It’s that important.
Thank you, God, for Through The Eyes of A Lion, a story born of pain that took God-given courage to write. May it comfort and encourage many who are stumbling in the darkness of trauma and loss, that they may get back up and live in your comfort and find purpose, for Your Kingdom. Amen.
Quotes from Through The Eyes of A Lion
by Levi Lusko
“Living out the calling of your life isn’t necessarily going to mean doing entirely new things, but doing things in an entirely new way.”
“Here’s something you need to know: hurting with hope still hurts. The sting of death might have been removed, but it still stings. It hurst like hell even when you know your loved one is in heaven. No, we might not sorrow as those who have no hope, but that doesn’t mean we won’t be sad.”
“God’s not the only one who knows you’re special. Your enemy knows it, too, and he is desperate to keep you from realizing it and reaching your potential. He knows that God wants to use you to save people Satan has under his thumb, and he doesn’t want it to happen.”
“These emperors found that as long as people weren’t hungry or bored, their freedom could be stolen. In the process, the emperors could turn themselves from kings into gods. The free food and endless entertainment acted as an anesthetic. They kept people amused while their liberty was taken. It was poison laced with sugar, and it was incredibly effective.”
“True overnight successes are rare. Far more often, you must keep showing up, day in and day out, until the hard, unglamorous work adds up and pays off. It’s easy to misunderstand what you are seeing when you look at people taking a victory lap or receiving attention or promotion.”