We’ve whitewashed everything about this scene: beatific Mary gazing serenely at a cleaned up baby cozy in a cleaned up manger towered over by Joseph and surrounded by adoring shepherds and freshly groomed, sweet smelling animals.
It was nothing like that.
Birth is pain and sweat and effort.
And messy. So, so messy.
I like to think more clearly about what that night was like. It helps my heart to know that even while God was being birthed as a man into the world He created, He didn’t hide the hard.
It’s been five plus years since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.
And while I’ve grown stronger and better able to carry the load of grief, the missing never ends.
I cannot become accustomed to photos that don’t include one of my children. I can’t set aside the sense that someone is absent from the table. It still seems unreal and unnatural for there not to be presents under the tree with Dom’s name on them. It is absolutely impossible for me to tick off the current ages of my kids without a pause for the age Dominic should be, but isn’t.
Now missing Dominic on one side of life is bookended by missing my mama on the other.
Sure, it’s perfectly natural and orderly for our parents to leave this life before us.
But it isn’t painless.
As a matter of fact, it is very, very painful.
I miss the generational space between me and eternity. I miss Mama’s voice, her silly stories, her peculiar habits and stubborn nature. I miss seeing her in the chair that was her daily perch these past two years. I miss the way she piddled with her food always declaring, “I eat everything on my plate” when she knew good and well she didn’t.
Our circle is smaller this year.
When we gather for opening presents and enjoying the Christmas feast there will be two people absent.
My heart will always mark the space where Mama and Dominic SHOULD be.
Yesterday I stood next to my mama’s casket and met person after person who came to pay respects.
It was beautiful and awful all at the same time.
It was precious to hear the many ways Mama had brightened other people’s lives, extended hospitality, shared experiences and encouraged hearts.
It was awful to know she wouldn’t be doing that anymore. Her voice is silent, her smile is forever fixed into a not-really-like-her expression and her eyes closed.
I have been so busy that I really haven’t had time to mourn her yet. It’s coming.
Oh, how I know it’s coming.
But one thing I know now that I didn’t know when Dominic ran ahead to Heaven is this: Hope in Christ creates a safe space for all my questions, sadness and crying out.
God collects my tears. He does not disdain my sadness. He leans in and listens to my lament.
To have healthy fellowship with God we must be honest and realistic about our circumstances and our reactions to them. To have a healthy emotional, spiritual, and mental life, we must be honest with ourselves. One truth about our lives is that we are broken; we inevitably encounter our own suffering and that of others, and eventually we die. How does our Lord teach us to respond to this? He teaches us hope, and within that hope we use lament to speak to God of the painful delay of peace. All laments ultimately go to God, with whom we wrestle and rest.
Kelly M. Kapic, Embodied Hope
Peace is coming but it’s not here yet.
And it is perfectly OK to admit that, to mourn that, to take notice of the gap between the promise and the present.
I was blessed to live several years in Colorado and it never got old to head off in the mountains, round a curve and come upon a grove of trembling golden aspen. They demanded I step outside the car and drink them in.
Photographs don’t do them justice.
You have to be there, see them, hear their leaves make music in the wind and smell the cool, clear air of the mountains to understand.
When Paul says that the sufferings in this life are incomparable to the glories of the next, I think he had something like this in mind-Heavenly experience is so far outside mortal language and understanding, it’s simply impossible to describe.
Through that prayer, God’s Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. 17 If we are God’s children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory. 18 Now I’m sure of this: the sufferings we endure now are not even worth comparing to the glory that is coming and will be revealed in us.
Romans 8: 16-18 VOICE
It’s no accident Paul tags this assurance on the end of declaring the fullness of my relationship to God the Father through Jesus His Son. If I, like Christ, am a child of God, then I. like Christ am an heir to the promises.
It’s a fact, not a theory.
God doesn’t lie. He will do every thing He says He will do.
I can rest assured in that truth.
We endure many hard things for a guaranteed earthly return on our time, money, energy, strength and tears.
How much more sure are the promises of God?
The glory to come must be some kind of wonderful it if makes the pain of child loss so small there’s no comparison.
Am I willing to trust Him even here, even now?
What’s your first impression of these verses? Do they hit a nerve? Make you defensive of your pain and suffering? Are they comforting?
What does it mean to you that God is Father? That you are a co-heir with Christ?
Have you ever had the last verse tossed at you by a well-meaning (or not so well-meaning) person trying to “cheer you up”? How did you respond (internally or verbally)?
Write out your own example of an awe-inspiring experience that stopped you in your tracks? Read it back to yourself aloud. Do you feel like you were able to convey the depth and breadth of your actual experience in words? Why or why not? Does this give you more or less confidence in how amazing Heaven will be?
I am thankful I can call You Father. I am thankful my position in Your family is secured by the blood of Christ. Thank You for the gift of salvation through His sacrifice. Thank You that the Spirit bears witness with my spirit that I am Yours.
It’s hard to suffer well sometimes. It’s hard to hold onto hope when pain is so very real and Heaven is somewhere I can’t really picture well. I’m trying to lean into the promises here and throughout Your word.
Strengthen me by Your word and with Your strength. When my heart is overwhelmed, calm me with Your songs of deliverance. When my grip is weak, wrap Your arms around me and help me hold on.