Three years ago, a parent’s worst nightmare became a reality for country singer Granger Smith. In 2019, he and his wife lost their 3-year-old son River in a horrific drowning accident. Now he’s reflecting on the hopefulness of “a sovereign God” in the midst of intense and, at times, overwhelming grief.
Smith told People in 2020 he knew there would come a day when he would forgive himself for the tragic death of his son, but quickly added, “I’m not there yet.” Now, in a recent conversation with CBN’s Faithwire, the “Backroad Song” singer said he would like to talk to that guy — the man he was just three years ago — because he’s processed much of his grief in the days, weeks, and months since then.
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He explained he and his wife, Amber, were intentional in their decision to let people into their journey of healing.
“We chose [to be open] from the very beginning, as we saw that, if we are vulnerable with our story, then we have the opportunity to help others and … what happens is, when we do help others through our grief, we realize that is part of our healing — a big part of our healing,” Smith said. “We could realize through that that tragedy and loss and hurt and sadness and pain for a Christian is not meaningless; it has a purpose. As [the Apostle] Paul says, it is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
“We realize that we grieve with hope, grieving hurts, that it is painful, but it is not meaningless,” he added.
The 43-year-old recording artist has leaned into his faith in the wake of River’s death, explaining that the experiences we have in this life — the good, the bad, and the in between — are all part of God’s plan, pieces of a “mosaic” the Lord is crafting over the arc of believers’ lives.
“God builds these beautiful narratives, these beautiful mosaics, as we see His character revealed in the Bible,” he said. “[W]e should look at the Bible and know, ‘Man, my life can’t be cookie-cutter, because that’s just not the way God operates.”
Smith turned to the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth to illustrate his point.
“He doesn’t take a girl from Bethlehem who’s already in her house to have a baby right there in her home,” he explained. “That’s not how He works; He builds these stories. Why couldn’t David just be the first king? Why didn’t God anoint David as the first king? No, He needed to anoint Saul so that Saul could then torment David and David could be humbled and learn how to appropriate mercy and grace to his people through Saul. But we don’t always see it like that when we’re in a hard time.”
“When we finally step back,” he continued, “we see the beautiful picture that He has painted.”
Smith is the star of a newly released movie on Pure Flix, “Moonrise.” In the film, he portrays a widowed singer-songwriter processing the loss of his wife as he tries to mend his relationship with his daughter, who is struggling through the grief of losing her mother.
The tragedy of his own life no doubt helped him portray his character in “Moonrise.”
During the Christmas season, for many, grief feels like an insurmountable obstacle to joy — a sinking reality with which Smith is all too familiar.
It’s entirely “normal,” Smith said, to feel discouraged after suffering a significant loss in life, particularly if this is the first holiday season since enduring that loss.
“First of all, we hear you,” the singer said. “You’re not alone. There is joy on the other side of this. You will not feel this way every Christmas from now on. You will one day smile and open up a gift from your spouse and say, ‘Grandpa would’ve loved this, because grandpa loved Christmas so much,’ and you’ll smile instead of cry.”
“The other side of that coin is, this Christmas, someone experiencing loss might accidentally smile and instantly feel guilt for that — ‘How could you smile, how do you dare smile when your grandpa’s gone, and he loved us, and he taught you everything you know about Christmas? How could you smile without him here?’ And that is a lie from the enemy and that guilt is a thief that’s coming in to steal your joy when the reality is joy and grief can coexist at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with crying or laughing or smiling this holiday season with whatever you’re going through.”
To learn more about Smith’s new movie, “Moonrise,” or to watch the film, click here.
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