The Pains of Motherhood Part 2: When a Child Leaves or Dies

The call to motherhood is a call to suffer. It’s much more than this, but it’s certainly not less. One of the swords that will pierce through the soul of a mother is when a child leaves. There are a few ways that children sometimes leave us...

The call to motherhood is a call to suffer. It’s much more than this, but it’s certainly not less.  One of the swords that will pierce through the soul of a mother is when a child leaves.  There are a few ways that children sometimes leave us.  First, it’s when our children grow up, and they move on with their lives. Maybe they move off to college, or maybe they get married and move to another city.

Regardless, this can be an incredibly painful time for mothers because it seems like just yesterday when you were holding them for the first time in the delivery room.  It seems like just yesterday when you took them to their first day of kindergarten, and then for braces in 6th grade, and now all of the sudden they are adults and they are gone. Now, every time you walk by their old bedroom, maybe it feels like a sword through your soul and all the memories flash before you and you’d give anything to have those years back.

So, moms, here are a few words of encouragement.  First, if your kids are still in the house, don’t take this time for granted.  As we’ve all heard it said, “The days are long but the years are short.”  Second, make memories – that is, make significant memories.  Someday you’ll look back upon these years, and if you can’t remember your story, you won’t have a life.  Finally, even if your child has grown up and moved on, never stop praying for them. God never stops listening to the prayers of mothers – prayers that can reach all the way around the world.

The second way a child can leave us is through death.  Perhaps the greatest fear of every mother is that they would outlive their children.  I heard a parent once say whose daughter was dying of cancer, “I’ve begged God many times to take the cancer from her and to give it to me – so that I could die and she could live.”   However, sometimes the death of a child is more hidden from the public eye.  It happens to far more mothers than we realize. It is a closet, unspoken issue in most churches, but there are many women in our churches who have had multiple miscarriages.  Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and there are many women who will wake up to a tear-soaked pillow, because Mother’s Day is just another reminder of the little ones that they’ve lost.

For those mothers that have lost little ones, although the pain is incredibly real, you may take great joy to know that while you may not be able to hold them in your arms, they are in even bigger arms in heaven. They may not be able to experience the love of an earthly father or mother, but they are now and forevermore experiencing the perfect love of their heavenly father, and of Jesus Christ who died for their little souls.  In some sense, although He took them home so early, God has shown them great mercy because they will never have to face all of the heartaches, pains, trials, and tribulations of this life.  Instead, all they ever have and all they ever will know is joy, peace, and the love of Jesus Christ. They’ve never known anything less than the satisfaction that comes from looking in the glorious face of Jesus.  As one woman in our church wrote me – who has tragically lost three children to miscarriage -said, “I remember the due dates of each of my three babies, now in heaven…as well as I remember their ‘going home’ dates to be with Jesus…I long to see them one day!”

Others have lost children early in their life, or even as adults.  I think about my dear grandmother, who was 87 years old, and in a six-month period, she buried both of her sons.  I watched my grandmother, and a sword pierced through her soul at both funerals as she looked down into the casket of the boys that she used to hold in her arms.  I heard her look at each of them and say, “I’ll see you soon; I’ll see you soon.” Less than a year later, her words became true, and she followed them home.  At least in part, my grandmother’s death came soon because of the pain and sorrow of losing the boys that she brought into the world.

Moms, as real as the pain is of having a child that has left, take comfort to know that we have a God in heaven that will never leave.   And while He stays, know that He deeply cares and in His kindness He takes great joy to wipe away the tears from your eyes.  Even when He sometimes feels so far away, you can trust Him, and you can rest assure that He is there.  And remember, to those that have lost little ones, it was Jesus who said, “Let the little ones come to me.”  You may rest well tonight knowing that your little ones are safe and secure in the presence of the One who’s got “the little bitty babies in His hands.”

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