Thursday, December 29, 2016
This is what the Lord says: “A cry is heard in Ramah—deep anguish and bitter weeping. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted—for her children are gone.” But now this is what the Lord says: “Do not weep any longer, for I will reward you,” says the Lord. “Your children will come back to you from the distant land of the enemy. There is hope for your future,” says the Lord. “Your children will come again to their own land. I have heard Israel saying, ‘You disciplined me severely, like a calf that needs training for the yoke. Turn me again to you and restore me, for you alone are the Lord my God. I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days.’ Jeremiah 31:15-19(NLT)
I’m not at all certain I’ve known of anything more heartbreaking than parents weeping for a lost child. Shortly before Elizabeth and I packed our belongings and took our three young children off to seminary, a young couple in our Sunday School group lost their only child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a seemingly healthy baby less than a year old. SIDS is sometimes known as crib death because the infants often die in their cribs.[ii]
It was the first time I had ever known someone who lost a child. They were so devastated, there were no words of comfort to offer, only weeping with those who weep.[iii] All the phrases that we may have packed away to utter at those times of indescribable loss are useless. Only quiet presence can be healing in such profound loss.
For the nation of Israel, conquered and destroyed by their Babylonian enemies (modern day Iraq), weeping was the order of the day. Mothers and fathers mourned the death, or capture of their children 24/7/365 – there was nonstop grief and emptiness of hearts. To be on the losing side of a war is to marry tragedy, pain and hoplessness.
How do you get over your loss when every neighbor you know is also weeping?
And then the weeping prophet, Jeremiah says that God was saying: Weep no more. Easier said than done.
But God was announcing the end of Israel’s season of discipline; their unruliness as God’s children had turned to repentance and prayer. Their hearts were crying out to their Heavely Father to draw them close – to forgive their sins and heal their land. And God was not only hearing, He was gladly ready to receive them, heal their pain, and restore their future.
For anyone who has suffered great loss, new circumstances cannot erase history. A child lost to death will not come back in this life; a spouse buried will not be forgotten. In time, for those who embrace their grief and learn life-changing lessons that loss will teach, mourning does give way to gladness. Memory of pain ultimately is tempered and blessed with the joy of God’s comfort. Meaning again returns, renewed and purposeful, as healing from loss integrates with opportunity to embrace life’s future. You find you can go on!
The old saying is to be trusted:
When it comes to trouble, you’re either
just coming out of it,
or about to go through it.
Dreading future trouble won’t head it off, and despising current trouble won’t help you learn a thing. So praise and trust God in your troubles and when you’ve got no troubles! Weep for your sins, and keep praying; God heard Israel, He will hear your cry as well.