Luke 2:35 “A sword will pierce your heart.”
International Bereaved Mother’s Day was May 2-3, to honor those mothers who have children who have died. Tomorrow, on Sunday, May 10, is Mother’s Day, where we all celebrate our mothers. So, we just paused this past Sunday not to celebrate, but to honor, our mothers who grieve for their children who are no longer here with them in this life. I have several good friends who are grieving mothers, whose children I knew well and who were part of our church family: Emma Aronson, Jordan Swearngin, Noah Coram.
When Emma died, one of her closest friends wrote this about her: “If you would claim to be a believer in Jesus Christ, why should you continue to ‘straddle the fence’? Truthfully, there is no fence; you are either living your life in a way that pleases God or you are not… ‘Belief’ without any life change isn’t true belief at all. There should be something peculiar and refreshing about the way you live your life. How will you ever know if your “belief” is true or not if you never take time to test it or investigate it? Let’s begin to live for things that matter. We never know when we will take our last breath. Why not fully give yourself over to a life worth living and dying for? God loves you so much that he sent His Son to die the death you deserved (John 3:16). How could you not be excited about knowing and living your life for Him? You will seek Me and find Me when you seek me with ALL your heart (Jeremiah 29:13). #EmmaLives.”
This past June 7, when Noah Coram would have been 20, his mom shared with us what kind of man he had become: “Noah had such strength. He didn’t complain and he was in such pain. The nurses couldn’t believe how kind and thoughtful he was. So proud of how he represented the Lord in all he did. But the thing that amazed me the most is how at the age of 17 he thought of his family and how they would be living without him. We found out his bones were broken from his neck down as a result of his awful cancer ravaging his body. I said, ‘If it were me Noah, I would not want to go through that much pain.’ Then he looked into my eyes and said words I will never forget. ‘Wouldn’t I be letting you down?’ After he went to heaven, we found out he had researched what happens to parents who lose a child. He was concerned about that and reached out to Taylor and a few of our friends to make sure they would look out for us. I can’t imagine being 17 and having my thoughts be about everyone else.”
I knew Jordan Swearngin the best – she was a lot like the child in Loren Eiseley’s classic 1991 poem “The Starfish Thrower”. Jordan was a light in a busy world who made you reassess your priorities after being around her. She always wanted to share what it meant to be a follower of Jesus. She was always asking her friends to go to church with her. She made time for individual people – she made personal investments in each of their lives. And her goal was exactly the same as the Starfish Thrower – to make a difference in their life by showing them how they could be rescued – through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In our verse this week, Simeon tells Mary, Jesus’s mother, that she will soon have her heart broken. Mary knows at this point that her baby boy is the promised Messiah who will bring salvation to all people. But she, like everyone else, did not understand that Jesus did not come to establish God’s kingdom on earth. Her heart would be broken when she realized Jesus would give His life as a sacrifice for our sins. Simeon’s prediction came true, as Mary stood looking up at her only Son as He was dying on the cross (John 19:25).
It is a paradox in this life, that grief and joy are so tightly intertwined. But what joy are we talking about? Noah’s mom explains: “Thankful the Lord is faithful to walk with us on this journey and give us comfort. Can’t wait for the day when Taylor, Michael and I are all reunited with Noah again and that hole in our heart will be filled. Happy birthday Noah.” God promised to reunite us one day: “Weeping may endure for a night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). Our grief is real, but temporary. Joy is eternal.
This was one of the prophecies of the future resurrection of Messiah. John 20:1 tells us that very early in the morning, the women closest to Jesus (including Mary, His mother) came to His tomb and found it was empty. Jesus, whom they had seen die on the cross, was alive. He had risen. Joy came in the morning.
The celebration tomorrow on Mother’s Day, and the honor last weekend on Bereaved Mother’s Day, both still have their culmination one day in the promise of Jesus Himself: “Let not your heart be troubled… I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1,3). We will be united again. Joy truly did come that Easter morning, and it will cast out grief forever one day.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance – Article #397