Empty Arms

Maybe the news came in a phone call. The telephone rang, and the sound of it was the sound of your life shattering.

Maybe a doctor told you as you sat across the desk from him, with words that couldn’t sink in because you’d gone numb.

Maybe you were there as your child took her last breath.

Whatever the circumstances, your life will never be the same.

There’s nothing more agonizing than losing a child. Nothing cuts deeper or produces longer-lasting pain. Nothing shatters your soul into such tiny fragments that you’re certain you can never be put back together quite the same. You wonder if you can be put back together at all.

You grieve on the anniversary of your child’s death, on what would have been your due date, on your child’s birthday, and at Christmas. You remember the times spent together as a family, a family that will never be complete again.

The times in your life that should bring joy now bring pain.

Mother’s Day is especially painful because everything about it reminds you that your child is gone. The pastor delivers a sermon focusing on mothers. You go to the store for a gallon of milk and pass displays of floral arrangements and cards. You open the newspaper, and out falls a jewelry store circular advertising “gifts to make her day special.”

Even if you have other children who present you with stick figure pictures of yourself and clay handprints, you find yourself trying to remember how your other child’s hand felt in yours.

Precious friend, as you grieve, there is something God wants you to know: your grief touches His heart. He grieves with you.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 11, Jesus arrived in Bethany to hear that His dear friend Lazarus had died. First one of Lazarus’ sisters, then the other, came running to Jesus to blame Him for what happened. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”

Our hearts are tormented with the same question. Lord, You could have stopped it. Why didn’t You?

Jesus didn’t directly address the sisters’ cry of anguish. But watch and listen to the answer He did give, for it is the same answer He gives you.

When Jesus saw everyone weeping, He was deeply moved. The Greek words indicate that He was “terribly upset”. You see, He cared about the sisters, their grief, and Lazarus’ death.

“Where have you put him?” Jesus asked, and they answered, “Lord, come and see.”

Upon hearing this, Jesus began to wail loudly. He must have, for in the Jewish culture of Jesus’ day, you grieved openly to show how much you loved the person who died. Even in a culture that was used to weeping and wailing, the other mourners thought Jesus’ grief remarkable in its intensity and talked about how much Jesus must have loved Lazarus.

What does that mean for us, two thousand years later?

It means we can know that when Jesus sees our grief, He is deeply moved. When your child died, He wailed with you.

Never think that because God doesn’t prevent death from happening, He doesn’t care. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, He cared so much about what death does to us that He sent His Son Jesus to gain the victory over it, not just for Himself, but for the whole world.

This victory has incredible implications for us. One day, no mother will ever again grieve the loss of her precious child. No mother will ever again feel the soul-deep, physical ache of empty arms that long to be filled with her baby. Death will finally be destroyed, and there will be no more mourning or crying or pain. God Himself will wipe every tear from your eyes, and your grief will be over.

Oh, friend, can you imagine that day? My soul longs for it, and I know yours does, too.

Until then, when it seems as if the tears will never end, remember that Jesus cries with you. When you don’t know how you can rise to meet one more day, remember that He grieves with you. And remember that though He may require you to walk through agony on this earth, He has promised that one day, your grief will cease as you triumph with Him over that ultimate enemy.

One day, you will rejoice again.

1 Corinthians 15:26—The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

1 Corinthians 15:55—Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

Revelation 21:4—He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Empty Arms

~~ Special thanks to author Renae Brumbaugh for her gracious assistance with editing this devotional ~~

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