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When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Luke 7:13

A young man lies in a hospital bed fighting for his life as the result of a gunshot to the head. The community and surrounding area hold vigils for his healing. Prayer meetings are held in coffee shops, restaurants and churches. Television news trucks are parked outside the hospital waiting for word on the fight for life.

Inside, a young mom holds vigil over the bed of her husband and the father of her three young children. She cries. She tries to be strong, but can’t. She prays harder than she’s ever prayed before. Minutes stretch into hours and hours stretch into days. Well wishers look for any indication that there is improvement, and sign of hope, but there would be none.

Somewhere near by another mom suffers in silence. Her son was the one who fired the shot. She is the one sitting at a funeral of her little boy who died of a self-inflicted gunshot. Once a hero, now maligned as a vicious offender, this mom suffers in silence. Heartbroken over the death of her son, yet ashamed of his actions, she tries to block out the voices she hears. She avoids being in public because of the stares. Even the few, sincere condolences she receives do little to heal her own pain, not to mention the pain she feels for the other young mom in the hospital holding vigil.

The story in Luke has a much happier ending. This mom, unlike the other two would receive back her loved one. We really know little about her, or the life she lived. We know she was a widow. We know she’d just lost her only son. How old was he? Some versions of the bible say a man, some a boy. Most likely he was a teenager.

Jesus didn’t see the crowd of mourners. His attention wasn’t focused on the stretcher. Luke tells us that “Jesus saw her…” His attention was riveted on this mom who also had just lost her son, her only son. She was alone now. After her husband died, he’d become the man of the house. It was he who would be her assurance of provision into old age. Now he was gone and she was alone.

There is no grief so deep as the grief of a parent whose lost a child, and that wound is deeper for the one who carried the child in her own bosom, bore that child out of pain and nursed it at her breast.

Three moms, three different outcomes, but one Jesus. Only he can offer the comfort a parent needs when tears are shed over a child. Only he can heal the wounds with the oil of his love, because God knows what it’s like to lose a son. No one, regardless of how sincere, can know the pain of a mom (parent) who has lost a child except Jesus. He looks beyond the externals and sees the heart.

PRAYER: Father God. Today I pray for all those parents, especially mom’s, who have lost a child. I pray that they would be comforted through the comfort only your son Jesus Christ can offer. May your Holy Spirit walk with them through the healing they need during a most difficult time. Amen.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

Tragedy brings people together. Earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and the devastation of conflict or famine awaken a part of us that says, “I’ll help you”. Those motivate to help aren’t limited to social class, race or ethnic groups or religious orientation. In fact, sometimes those who are the most financially insecure are the ones who will give more (percentage-wise) than the wealthy.

All of that is good, but sometimes the biggest hurts people experience are the ones where they suffer alone. A broken heart doesn’t show itself in public. We’ve learned how to hide that behind a false smile, and various activities like drugs, new relationships, political and social action or even religion. Some people spend their entire lives doing ‘things’ to try to cure the pain of a broken heart.

Perhaps one of the hardest things to deal with in relation to a broken heart is that we often suffer alone. Oh, we have friends and neighbors who bring food and comfort during times of mourning and illness. There’s often community and government help to rebuild houses and businesses destroyed by natural disaster. But while that may help soothe the pain, it doesn’t cure the pain.

All the food and all the human comfort and all the financial support in the world won’t heal a broken heart. That’s where Jesus comes in. Well meaning friends and compassionate governments can restore physical property, but only Jesus can come alongside you and completely understand your pain. He may not remove the obstacles in your life, but he can give strength to endure in the battle.

It was Jesus who stood beside the mom who’d lost her daughter. It was Jesus who wept over the death of a dear friend. It was Jesus who stood by the desperate father of a demon-possessed, seizure stricken little boy. It was Jesus who brought hope to the woman at the well, a victim of broken relationships, who’d not only had five husbands, but after five divorces she could no longer take the chance of failing again.  It was Jesus who provided the food for over 5,000 hungry men, women and children. He calmed storms, gave hope to the crippled and restored those victimized by religious intolerance.

What is your struggle today? What pain are you hiding because no one else understands? Jesus Christ promises to come along side you. He understands your pain like no one else. He alone can bring peace in the midst of your storm.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. Although I’m smiling on the outside for the world to see, my soul aches today. No one understands how I feel. I’m afraid to share my true feelings with those around me for fear of being misunderstood. Thank you for understanding me. Comfort me in my distress. In your name I pray, Amen.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

It’s a verse many of us learned in Sunday School, and perhaps the most well-known verse in the Bible. ‘For God so loved the world.’ What an awesome promise. What an incredible thought. Not a god, THE God. The creator and sustainer of the universe loves us. Make it more personal. He loves me. Insignificant as I am, a stubborn, selfish, weak-willed person. Yet He looks down from heaven and smiles when He sees me.

Fantastic as that truth is, so often we focus our attention on the first part of the verse and relatively little time really thinking about the next part of the verse. ‘He gave his one and only son’. If you are a parent, ask yourself, “If I knew my only child was going to be killed, what would I do to protect him/her? How much money would I spend to keep my child protected? What would I sacrifice to make sure I could enjoy my child’s presence?

It might be easy to say, “Yeah, but He’s God. Sure, He knew Jesus would die, but He also knew Jesus would rise again.” But remember that we are made in God’s image. Our emotional make-up and intellect comes from Him.

A friend of mine (I’ll call John) recently lost his infant son to a rare disease. The disease struck in the morning and took the little ones life before sundown! It was incredibly hard for the family and all those close to John. I hadn’t seen John in several months since the funeral of his one-year-old little boy. As we sat over coffee, John told me how the morning of his son’s death he’d been spoken to regarding sacrifice. “It was as if God was saying to me, ‘will you give me everything?”

John remembers thinking, I can give you everything except I have to admit I’m not sure I’d give you my son. That day God took his son from him. John learned a valuable lesson about what it must have been like for his Heavenly Father when he was separated from His only son.

When Jesus was on earth it was as though He was imprisoned in a foreign land. While His Father could see Him, the relationship was different. When Jesus was dying on the cross, even His Father turned His face from His one and only Son. That’s why, with agony Jesus screamed, “My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?”

John 3:16 doesn’t just tell us that God loves us. It shows us that God understands what sacrifice means. When we are asked to give everything to God, it’s not an idle statement by a God that hasn’t sacrificed. He loved me so much that He literally gave the only thing He could possibly give, His only Son.

The next time you think the pain of the journey is too great; remember that Jesus endured pain beyond imagination so He could comfort you. When you wonder if you can go on, remember that Jesus’ agony was so great that He sweat great drops of blood. During those times you feel all alone, remember Jesus knew what it was like to have all of his family, and friends reject Him. Even His heavenly Father turned his back on him.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I thank you that you understand my deepest pain. Thank you that in my loneliness you are desperate to be my friend. Thank you for the promise that Your love is eternal and unconditional. I’ve made many mistakes. I struggle with trying to do the right thing. Empower me by your Spirit to learn to live the life of sacrifice for your sake. Amen.

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September 2022
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