Blessed are they that mourn...

...for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4

I was in the midst of some mundane research for a grad school paper yesterday when I went 'down a rabbit hole' on the internet. I ended up on the websites of some patients of mine, now long dead. Reading the words of pain and suffering on those sites, many still maintained daily by grieving parents, was heart-wrenching. Aaron and I were just sorrowing together over these lost babes and their families, still wounded, perhaps forever so.

I will never forget the first time I saw a child die. This little 5-year-old, Katy's age now, was playing dress-up with her daddy the night before she died. They came running down the carpeted hallway together to show off their crowns and dresses to the nurses. We giggled with them at the nurses station and took Poloroids for the little girl's mother, who was home tending the other children. About six hours later, I was helping with resuscitation attempts as her daddy cried in the hallway, all alone. His little girl had "stone heart syndrome" - her transplanted heart had literally gone from pliable and beating to hard and unresponsive in a few minutes due to a massive immune reaction. I remember going out with the doctor to tell her father there was nothing that could be done after several hours of resuscitation. That poor father kept pulling his shirt off his chest as if it were crushing him, and I remember thinking of the stories in the Old Testament when the Jews tore their clothes in anguish. I have seen a similar reaction in many, many people who've just suffered the loss of a loved one, my mother most recently.

Reading those web pages was a reminder of several truths I've always treasured:
  1. Perspective is everything. When you are faced with adversity, one way to cope is to keep it in perspective. In my case, I am kept on track by contemplating the tasks of the moment, my relative good health, and my eternal destiny. I am still alive, and my children are alive and well. How blessed we are, beyond words!
  2. You always have a choice. You may not have choices about your disease, or your loss, or your pain. But you do have a choice in how to respond to it. As an example, here are two verses from the Old Testament stories I referred to earlier. Notice how differently the two men respond to their losses. I pray I will be with Job in his reaction as I face whatever storms this life brings! May I fall on the ground and worship!
Job, following the news that all his children were killed in a storm:
"Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong." ~ Job 1:20-22 ESV

Jacob, when he discovered Joseph's torn and bloodied robe:
"Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. "No," he said, "in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son." So his father wept for him." ~ Genesis 37:34-35 NIV

I am spending time today in prayer for the parents of all those dear children who have gone on before them to their eternal home. What a trial to continue to live without the touch, scent, little beloved habits and voice and expressions of your own baby.

This is my Father's world -
O let me ne'er forget!
That tho the wrong seems oft so strong
God is the Ruler yet.
This is my Father's world!
The battle is not done;
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and heav'n be one.
~ Maltbie D. Babcock, 1901, This Is My Father's World