She suffers. Her husband suffers. Their daughter, an only child for so many years, suffers. The sonogram reveals that this new life they joyfully welcomed into their lives will not survive the pregnancy, or if he does, he will not live long thereafter. Soon, they tell their parents, their families, their close friends; their community gathers around them to try to absorb the shock and pain but the suffering does not abate.
He suffers. His children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews suffer. His wife of 65 years has died and no amount of mourning or condolence penetrates the grief. His sun hasn’t risen for a year. His night seems to go on forever.
What is it to comfort those who grieve like this? What small or large sacrifice can make a difference? What good can come of it?
The Apostle Paul wrote, in the fifth chapter of his letter to the Romans, “…we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character, and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (NASB)
Frankly, what kind of cold-hearted creature would exult in these examples of suffering for herself, no less someone she cares about? Who can rejoice in the midst of suffering?
Brothers and sisters, we can. We are so honored to carry the message of the risen Christ to those who suffer. We toil in anonymity and prayer to offer anything we can. Our sacrifices are small compared to the grief we confront but we know that Paul was right. It may be the thing that gives an hour or a day of perseverance to the grieving parent or widower. An hour or a day to add a shimmer of distance between the stabbing wound and the eventual healing. Our gift of prayer–never, ever, forget to pray–will be a salve on that wound. One day, after persevering through the unbearable, the proven character of a warrior will emerge. A woman will stand up from her bed, a man will be knit together again to share his wisdom with his family, and a nation will be forged again in hope.
Dear God, We know that hope rooted in Jesus Christ never disappoints. Help us to be devoted in prayer as we are to every action of love. Graciously allow us to be instruments of Your love in the midst of tribulation, grief and tragedy. Grant us Your vision so that we might ever be overflowing in hope. Amen.
Tracy Revalee is the grandmother of Wyatt Matthew Treadway who spent his life on earth on January 9, 2013. Wyatt’s Threads of Love was established on January 9, 2014 in Liberty, Indiana. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.