Zechariah 4:6 “Not<sup class="crossreference" value="(I)”> by might nor by power,<sup class="crossreference" value="(J)”> but by my Spirit”

     The funerals continue.  They are a terrible reminder that we live in a fallen world.  Madness runs wild and children are gunned down.  It happens everywhere.  What can you say?

     Every year around this time I often think of my mother.  She loved Christmas and in the midst of all her preparation and efforts to make a great Christmas for her family she struggled with a terrible sadness.  My mother had something in common with the mothers of the children who were gunned down in Newtown.  She lost her son when he was a small child of four.

     My oldest brother was horribly burned in a terrible accident.  After a short stay in the hospital he died of his burns.  His broken, disfigured little body couldn’t keep his spirit any longer.  My mother lived with this tragedy all of her life.   She never ‘got over it’.  How do you ‘get over’ the loss of your child?  What my mother did was live through this tragedy.  The loss wounded her deeply – cutting into her joints and marrow.  The pain piercing her soul and spirit.   Every Christmas as she prepared a wonderful meal and evening for her family she must have been acutely aware of one little empty place at the table.

     As an adult, I often wonder what you can say to someone, to a mother, who has lost her child?  What words can console a person who has experienced such a tragedy?   I don’t know.  What I do know, is what I said to my mother when I was a child so many years ago.  I said; “I need you.”  Not in words but by being there, by depending on her and by loving her.  My brothers said the same right after the tragedy and my sister when she was born did the same.  Somehow my mother found the strength to continue.
     Where did my mother find the strength to go on?  How did she get through each day afterwards?   Who was there for my mother when she needed someone to make it better;  “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?” (Jeremiah 8:22)

     As a man of sixty years, I have so many unanswered questions about my mother. She did go on and she raised five successful children.  I also remember that she had a deep and abiding love for God’s Word.  She studied the Bible often.  Her Bible was underlined, cross referenced and had many bookmarks in it.  She wasn’t a religious ‘church type’ person.  I once saw her chase a minister out of our house.   Mother put the fear of God in that smug self righteous little man – boy did he run!

     How did she do it?  How did she go on?  Not by might.  The horrible tragedy stole her strength.  Not by power.  The empty chasm her loss opened up in her soul drained every bit of personal power she had.  She was bereft, broken and beaten down.  I know she found strength in His Word; ” . . . He turned to me and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud<sup class="crossreference" value="(E)”> and mire; He set my feet<sup class="crossreference" value="(G)”> on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song<sup class="crossreference" value="(I)”> in my mouth, . . “(Psalm 40:1,2,3)  By His Spirit, she overcame day by day.  Not perfectly but she overcame.

     She often told me that God would complete her healing when she died.  I now know what she meant.  She would see her son again.  She believed in His Word; “I am<sup class="crossreference" value="(V)”> the resurrection and the life.<sup class="crossreference" value="(W)”> The one who believes<sup class="crossreference" value="(X)”> in me will live, even though they die;  and whoever lives by believing<sup class="crossreference" value="(Y)”> in me will never die.” (John 11:25)  Because she chose to believe this I was born, so was my sister.  Her faith to continue stopped a horrible tragedy from stealing my life and my sister’s and the lives of our children.  Because of the faith of a broken, grieving, desolate woman new lives came to be.

     All I can say to the mothers of Newtown is to share this testimony about my mom.  After sixty years of living and raising my own children with my wife I will say this to my mother. “Thank you and thank you Jesus!”

     Praise the Lord!