“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4 NIV
What an amazing promise this is.
When Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount, he specifically said that those who mourn are blessed. It took me years to understand WHY people who are in such distress are considered to be blessed. It feels like the exact opposite. It feels like when your world has suddenly crashed down, when part of your heart has been ripped out that you are anything but blessed. Often it feels like God has done something against you, or at the very least has overlooked you. But those who mourn will be comforted.
The Message puts it this way:
““You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”
Matthew 5:4 MSG
…only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
I often feel that the nighttime is the worst when grieving. You’re tired, and often not in the company of others. You’re alone with your thoughts and with your grief. When all you need is some rest, you can’t get any. When all you need is a warm hug, you feel nothing.
And yet, for Christians who mourn, God is right there holding us.
Sometimes, the pain goes too deep to even feel Him there, but He is.
Even when we push Him away, He does not let go.
Even when we fight Him, He still holds us.
Even when we are angry with Him, He does not relent.
And then, when our exhaustion has won over, when our energy is spent and we are too tired to feel anything else, we collapse. But we are already held.
We finally rest in the everlasting arms of Jesus.
And it’s in those moments, those of comfort and rest, that we realize that we are blessed in spite of everything. That no matter what, Jesus has held us tight. We we may not have answers, our heart may not be whole, but we have found rest in His comfort.
I had one of those restless nights last night. It’s usually on those nights that I pray (or at least should pray), “God, what are you trying to tell me? What do I need to pray for?” But last night, I just hummed worship songs.
The songs I sang to myself reminded me of Ethan’s stay in the hospital. Normally the songs remind me of when he was in the PICU at the second hospital. But this time, I pictured the room at the first hospital.
I saw the window that overlooked the playground, the same one where I thought “Joshua would love to play there while he visits” forgetting about the blistering cold January weather.
I saw the room where I sat with my infant son, convinced that he was getting better. I was so excited that I would hopefully be able to take him home that night, if not the next morning.
It was the same room where I saw my son struggling to breathe only hours later. The one where I wept when the resident doctor told me I have to seriously consider him being transferred to their sister hospital where there is a PICU for him to stay. It was a truth I was unwilling to accept. She gently told me that babies, like the elderly, go fast, and she didn’t want him to get any worse where they did not have the equipment to transfer him. All I heard was “your son may very well be at death’s door at this moment.”
I didn’t see it.
The decision for Ethan to go the PICU should have been an easy one. But it took a while for me to realize “even if he isn’t so sick, he will get better faster there.” I was so set in my own idealized thinking, that Ethan was getting better, that I did not see him getting worse before my eyes.
When I finally accepted his condition, I turned on All My Sons and Daughters. (I put a link to their entire YouTube page. I couldn’t even name a favorite song. All of their songs got me through that difficult time, and any difficult time since. I encourage you to listen to worship music like this if you are going through a difficult time yourself.) I was so tired and sick that night but I hardly slept by the time the EMTs came to take Ethan to the second hospital.
I watch my son get strapped into a stretcher with a makeshift car seat made of blankets. I listened to his weak cries and whimpers, as he was not strong enough for anything more. Up until that point, I was his entire source of life, and yet there was nothing I could do to help him on that day.
There is no worse thing than to watch your baby suffer and to not be able to do a single thing about it.
I had to rely on God that He will be the source of life for my son. “Speak life,” I repeated to myself, numb as I was.
As I thought about all this last night, I thanked God that He had brought us out of that dark time. Many people have experienced even harder times, but I wouldn’t wish those feelings on my worst enemy. I thanked Him for the life of my boys, that they are both strong and healthy. I thanked Him that, although not perfect, I have all of my family right here. I praised Him because even when I’m not sure of the way, He guides me and we make it out, thanks to his sustaining grace.
I’m exhausted today. I got a total of 3 1/2 hours of solid sleep. Other than that, I was up with Ethan all night.
Note: please do not interpret this as complaining. Stuff like this was in the bold print when I signed my contract for motherhood.
Still, last night was one where I was looking forward to to being completely alone and taking some time for just myself. The boys didn’t take a nap in the afternoon, so they were tired and would go to sleep extra early, and Roland was at church for a board meeting which would inevitably go past my bedtime. I would have the house to myself for a few hours and it would be wonderful.
It was one of those days where you get kicked in the eye, your battery won’t start, and your favorite decorative dish breaks, to name a few.
While I was pleased with how I mostly laughed off situations that could have potentially been really stressful, I was looking forward to my quiet evening. But I had that feeling where I knew I should not count on my quiet evening.
Both boys were in bed by the time Roland left and about 2 and a half seconds later, Ethan was waking up. It was clear he wasn’t going back to sleep, so I brought him downstairs while I did the dishes and was able to put him back to sleep after that. About an hour later, he woke up again, so I picked him up and he threw up all over the floor (and him, and a little on me too).
I didn’t brush this off with laughter, though. My heart broke to see my baby uncomfortable and not feeling well. So I made a spot for him in my bed.
I did my best to comfort him in any way that I could. I just wanted to see him rest and I could not sleep until I saw that he was resting.
The whole time I was awake, though, A verse was stuck in my head — if your son asks for a piece of bread, what parent would give him a stone? How much more will your Father in heaven give you?
““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
I did not want to be awake for 2/3 of my night. Even less did I want to see my son suffer, to any degree.
So if I, as a fleshly parent who can so often get stressed and annoyed with her kids (I can’t be the only one…) could give up the one thing I thought I deserved and looked forward to so much for my son and willingly give him what he needed from me, how much more will my perfect Heavenly Father give me?
When I am broken and need comfort, he is the one who is with me until I finally find my rest.
When I have any need, He is the one who supplies it.
As a mom, what I can do is so limited in the grand scheme of things. I cannot always be there for my kids. Sometimes, all I can offer is temporary comfort in trying times.
But my God reigns over all and is all powerful and is still willing to give me the things I ask for.
In fact, he loves me so much that he gave up his only son for ME.
I don’t think I could give up either of my sons for anything.
“My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.”