“Dear World, It will not always be like this.” This Facebook post caught my eye yesterday. Particularly because it comes from a beautiful young mother of four who is wise beyond her years as she grieves the tragic loss of her Marine pilot husband less than two years ago.
It didn’t just catch my eye. It lingered in my heart as I walked into our Mom to Mom Leaders’ prayer time. The group around the table was smaller than usual. Three leaders were out attending the funeral of the beloved niece who was like a daughter to one of them. Last Thursday we prayed for this 34-year-old as she was just beginning a series of cancer treatments. We prayed for the long road ahead. Two days later we got the news: She was dead. Silence. Then another leader shared her prayer request: A family with six children, one of whom is her grandson’s best friend, is reeling from the tragic unexpected death of their father. The oldest of these children is in 8th grade. The father was well known in the community, and both father and kids active in sports and other community activities. More silence, as we imagine the ripple effects on so many tender young hearts.
We look around the table at each other. We pray fervently for one another, so we know the deep waters many of us are walking through. But this early morning prayer time is generally focused on the young moms who will soon be making their way in. We pray for them, knowing many of them carry heavy loads in addition to the everyday heavy lifting of “just being a mom.”
And all of us are living in a country that seems to careen from one tragedy to another. The worst mass shooting in US history. With seemingly no explanation of motive. As if there could be an “explanation” that would make it any easier to hear about 59 lives cut short and hundreds wounded. One hurricane after another, with tragic pictures of suffering filling our TV screen and news feeds day after day. Constant turmoil and division in our own country, which is part of a huge world in even more turmoil. We either avoid the news or cringe as we hear it. So much of it is ominous. Threatening.
So. Will we sink under this sadness? Well, honestly—almost. Because, speaking only for myself here, I truly cannot bear this worldwide, nationwide heaviness along with the daily challenges in my own life and family. Not alone, I can’t. Not alone.
But there are words marching through my mind. And a song echoing in my heart. The words are from the Only One who can truly understand and shoulder my sadness. “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and have sorrow in my heart every day?” (Psalm 13:2) And then I am reminded: “All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.” (Psalm 38:9) So where do I go with my sadness? “Hear my cry, O Lord. Listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:1-2) And what does this Great Listener remind me of? “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26)
And then there’s that song. A friend recently sent me the link to this music video by Casting Crowns, and I can’t even tell you how many times I have viewed it:
The words are seared into my soul: “Oh my soul, you are not alone/ There’s a place that fear has to face the God you know. One more day, He will make a way. Let Him show you how, you can lay this down/ Cause you’re not alone.” You can lay it down. You can lay it down. You’re not alone.
And . . . let me go back to the opening Facebook post. Under “It will not always be like this,” these words: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (Revelation 21:4)
So yes, we are sad. Sometimes, very sad. As a precious little 4-year-old once said to me as I tucked him in bed after his beloved grandparents had gone home from a visit with us, “Even Christian boys can be sad—right, Mommy? “ Oh yes, Bjorn. You are so right.
But we can bring our sadness daily, maybe even hourly, to the One who knows us best and comforts us most. And we can lay it down. And we can look ahead to Hope. May that Hope become contagious.