When It’s Easter Week And You’re Short On Hope

I sat across from her. An 8:30 breakfast on Wednesday of Easter week. But we didn’t talk about weekend plans. Instead she tells me her story. A story no one should have. A son taken from her too soon. Despite all the prayers lifted up, despite all the attempts to save him, her baby gone from this earth and all she’s left with is an ache.girl-865304_1920

So everyone celebrates life this week while she breaks.

My stomach tightens, not from the chain-restaurant omelette, but from the knot of longing. I wanted to say I understand. But how can I? Who can understand such pain? I wanted to have some great words of comfort, but none came.

What do you say to a mother who lowered her son in a grave long before his time? What do you say when it seems the whole world is erupting with spring life and hers is cloaked in winter’s chill?

Nothing.

So I listen. And I pray. And I realize that her story is sadly not rare enough. I realize that all around me lie the ruins of brokenness. I realize that the journey through this world is one split by selfishness and greed and hatred and heartache. And too often, hopelessness.

And then I remember the story.

The one where Hope stepped onto the landscape of the world, took on its brokenness and stretched it out on a cross. The one where the sky split open and grace descended.cross-828894_1920

I don’t believe most stories. I think incredible stories are mostly just that—in-credible. And this one is most incredible of all. I mean who can absorb the notion that God would come to earth and pour Himself into flesh?

Not just flesh, but infant flesh. And that He grew into a divine man with the power to heal and to forgive? And then in that power He looked behind and ahead to all mankind—to me and to you—and saw each moment?

Each broken moment. Each unholy moment. Each gunshot fired. Each drug injected. Each harsh word or cold slap. Each tear shed. That He had the power to see my pain and my disease and my injustice and…my sin, and declare it wiped away?

Who could believe such a story?

But I believe this one.

Not because someone told it to me, although I’m glad they did. Not because of a Sunday school flannel board, although it was fun. And not even because I read it in an ancient document, although I now treasure that holy book.lamp-872946_1920I believe it because His story collided with my story and it became our story.

I believe it because there was a time when I couldn’t find my way through the senselessness of my broken road and all I had were whys. There was no making sense. There was only doubt and fear and a sense that I would never be okay again.

And then that story. A man who died on a cross, yet lived. A man who stretched out His arms and declared it finished, yet just beginning. He looked though the corridors of 2000 years and saw my tears and desperation and I saw Him. And it wasn’t just a story anymore. It was Hope and Resurrected Life.

It was God with me.

Emmanuel. God with us. Then and now. Reminding us that we are not alone.

And that this is not the forever world. But there is one waiting for us that needs no words to explain it or make it make sense. A world where a mother who walked this earth years past her prime stretches renewed arms out to her young son who never reached his in an embrace that knows no sorrow.mother-and-son-887058_1920

A world where there is no more death or grief or tears or pain. A world that makes sense of all that is and was.

A world that once only existed in my make-believe mind. But I’ve glimpsed it. I got a peak into that world during my deepest suffering. The curtain was pulled back and I knew. I knew the story was true. I knew that it was possible to live when everything else was dying.

My friend knows it too.

Our breakfast dishes had been cleared away and we sipped the last of our coffee through tears and through laughter. She knows the story. Heaven came down when her son was taken up.

She suffers. She longs. She questions. Yet she knows. She believes. This broken road ends in wholeness.church-750251_1920I hope you can believe that.

I hope you can take it all in despite how in-credible it sounds. The suffering, the heartache, the senselessness. It won’t always be so. It’s only part of this journey and it isn’t forever.

If something in you has died, if all hope is lost, I hope you will believe the story. I promise you, when you look through faith’s eyes, you see what can not be seen with your own. And you can find joy despite suffering, hope despite hopelessness, and life despite death.

I’ve created Hope For the Hard Places just for you, and I’d love for you to download it or share it in anyway you find helpful.

Please leave me a comment below and let me know if you believe the story. Or if you’re not sure. I’d love to have coffee with you sometime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Help Your Children Grieve

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courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

None of us are strangers to loss. Loss and death are givens in this life, yet even as adults we often struggle with how to grieve in a way that brings healing. While it can be difficult to navigate the grief process, it is impossible to avoid. Therefore, helping our children learn early how to grieve in a healthy way will serve them for the rest of their lives.

Teach that loss and death are a part of life. 

Keeping age and maturity in mind, children can understand that while it’s not easy to accept, death is a natural process. Growing up on a farm made this a bit simpler for me.

If we are not afraid of death and not unwilling to talk about it, then children will likely feel free to ask questions and be better able to work through it. At the same time, recognize that the subject can be scary, so take your cues from them and don’t push them into topics or situations (such as funerals) too tough for them to grapple emotionally.

For those of you who share my faith, teaching your children early that death is not final, but simply a transition from a temporary life on earth to life everlasting, is a wonderful way to help them cope.

Let them know that grieving is a unique process and there is no “right” way to grieve or “right” time stop.

Spend time answering your children’s questions and reassuring them that there’s no rush to get to the other side. Let them know it’s okay to be sad some days and happy others and that what they feel will not last forever. Someday the pain will not be so sharp and joy will return.

Talk about the good times.

Remind your children that just because a loved one is no longer here doesn’t mean they are erased from our memories. Take time to share funny stories and good memories with them. At the same time, let your children know that someday they will think of the loved one less and that’s okay too.

Model how to grieve.

It’s okay for them to see you cry. It’s okay for them to know how deep your hurt is. This will validate their own feelings and reassure them that their pain is normal. There is no escaping pain in this world, but as your children watch your sadness diminish and joy return, they will have reason to hope.

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My family has seen its share of loss these last few years. We have all handled it differently, but we have grown closer to the Lord and to one another through it all, and hopefully we have learned to better love others who are suffering.

We may not be able to protect our children from loss, but we can equip them to handle it in a way makes them feel safe, loved, and full of hope. They will learn one heartache at a time that “You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (John 16:20 NIV).

Here are some beautiful scriptures I hope you look up. I’ve taped them to the refrigerator door often to give us comfort and strength:

Psalm 34:8

Isaiah 43:2

Jeremiah 31:13

Matthew 5:4

I Corinthians 15:52-57

2 Corinthians 13-4

Revelation 21:4