(Matthew 2:16-18; Jeremiah 31:15; Isaiah 61:1-3)
There was no angel appearance to my husband —
No timely warning granted for us to flee the danger and death of Herod’s sword.
Know that I, too, would have fled.
I would have flown to the ends of the earth to dodge the flash of steel that ended my young son’s life, snuffed out to satisfy the jealous angst of a paranoid king.
Tricked out of a positive identification of his rival by the stealth of the wise men, Herod reduced a precious population of baby boys to a disposable demographic:
in Bethlehem and its districts,
two years old and under.
Yes, my tears were foretold by the prophet Jeremiah, and the Messiah survived to live and die in the manner God had ordained.
(Is it ironic only to me that my boy died in the place of the savior of humanity?)
God’s economy is strange.
I would never have removed a creature so fine as he before his time.
There is a great hole in the universe now.
But I am a daughter of Deborah, a woman of the Covenant, and I know Who it is that sits at the Potter’s wheel, Who molds the clay.
I am the work of His hand.
My son was also His vessel.
God is building His kingdom; I know this in my head.
But I am a mother, finite, and I see through a glass darkly.
And I would trade all that promise of righteousness, all that prophetic fulfillment
for one more day with my boy.
Is there ever an era or a set of circumstances in which a bereaved mother does not
sob ragged to frame these words:
Why my child?
Why not some other?
I do not understand, and Jeremiah was cruelly accurate in his prophecy,
for I will not be comforted:
Not by time.
Not by the kind consolation of thoughtful words.
Not by the probing questions, thinly veiled queries, which, over the years
have come to revolve around a single theme:
“Isn’t she over this yet?”
Weeping, I wait for my heart to heal.
Weeping, and finding no ready answer to the evil in the world—the evil in me—
I discover that my suffering creates a space in which I wait for the deep comfort promised by another ancient prophet:
Healing for the brokenhearted.
Consolation to those who mourn.
I wait for another coming of this Jesus, and I long to believe,
for I know
that shortly after I see His face,
I will see, once again, the face of my boy.
A few verses in Matthew are all that are granted to the tragedy of slain baby boys following the birth of Jesus. As the mother of four sons, I’ve never experienced this depth of loss, and I find myself wishing with all my heart that these women could have been among those who “sorrow not even as others who have no hope.” I love to think that there may have been those who knew from their exposure to the writings of the prophets that a Messiah would come to live and to die and to give beauty for ashes.
This post first appeared at SheLoves Magazine where we were writing for Advent 2015 on the theme “Paused and Present.”
Image credit: Guilherme Yagui
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