Jump Start # 3219
Matthew 2:18 “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.”
It was a scene from church the other day that made me think of this verse. Two mothers talking to one another, with deep concern on their faces and tears on their cheeks. Both of these mothers had buried grown sons. It’s something that no one wants to go through, and, yet, here were two of them. The mothers were strong spiritually. One had buried her son decades ago, the other, just days ago. I stood and watched this realizing that I needed to stay away and allow those two to talk. No one could understand what the pain was like except those who had been through that.
Our verse today is a quotation from the prophet Jeremiah. The angry Herod, realizing that he had been tricked by the wise men, decreed that all the little boys from two years old and under were to be killed. History doesn’t tell us how many households felt the death by Herod’s goons who carried out that order. For the parents in Bethlehem, this was senseless and heartless. They likely did not know about the wise men, the angels, the birth of Jesus and the role He would play. All they understood was an evil dictator was killing baby boys. Who would be next? Little girls? Teenagers? And, as Herod was filling graves of these little boys, Heaven was being filled with their precious innocent souls.
There are some lessons for us:
First, the natural order of life is often unnatural. Children are supposed to bury their parents. That’s what usually happens, but not often. I have preached far too many funerals of people whose parents were sitting in the audience. The parents look dazed. It doesn’t make sense to them that they are alive and it’s their child that they are burying. Life doesn’t always go by the books. The bad guys sometimes are not caught. The young die.
Second, God often puts the scars on us to help others. It is good to know that others have gone through those long, dark valleys and made it safely to the other side. It is important to know that one can make it safely through to the other side. There are days when a grieving parent wonders if they can ever go on. They wonder if they will ever smile again. They wonder if the hurt will ever go away. But to see others who know what you know and have tasted that bitterness of death and to see that they are continuing on with the Lord is helpful.
And, it’s not just this way with the death of a child. Divorce can be this way. It hurts terribly. But to see someone on the other side and doing well is an encouragement. Not every story is the same, but the pain often is. Just being there for one another and realizing that your presence connects can do so much.
Third, God allowed the baby boys of Bethlehem to be slaughtered. I wonder what the soldiers thought who had to carry out Herod’s rule. It’s one thing to battle in war. Warrior verse warrior, swords, shields, arrows and intense battle. But a sweet little boy, who is no threat, how cruel and mean, all of this is. God allowed this because of freewill. God doesn’t stop evil from rising up. God doesn’t put His people in a protective bubble. Those responsible, will stand before God and be judged for their actions. A warped theology believes that nothing bad will ever happen to God’s people. But what about John the Baptist? The apostle James? Stephen? The prophets? Antipas? Heaven is where all is safe and right. This world is broken and much too often, those that are in charge are evil, ungodly and without faith. The righteous suffer because of that.
I go this morning to a funeral. A person I have known for many years, about my age, passed suddenly last week. Her mother still lives. Her mother will be in the audience. Another mother grieving over the death of her child.
We can plant pretty flowers, look at sunrises and sunsets, and all around us is the beauty of God’s hands, but the darkness of a broken world never leaves us. And, all of this makes us long for Heaven even more. A world where these tears will stop flowing. A place where death is not allowed. A place that is perfect and always perfect. God’s home. Our home. This world is not our home…
Two mothers who understood. Two mothers with tears in their eyes and pain in their hearts. A child dies, whether the child is two years old, as in Bethlehem, or all grown up, it pains a parent who loves. Do not grieve what was lost, but be thankful for what we had—gentle reminds of hope and blessings, even as tears flow.
Come, Lord Jesus…