Motherhood and Loss.

Mothers day is a bittersweet day. It is filled with sweet memories of moms who daily listen and selflessly give of themselves in the middle of the mundane. Mother’s day is also a painful reminder of loss. The loss felt when observing those celebrating around you, the mothers you wish your mom always was. The mothers being honored by the kids you will never have.

Family is God’s idea. Mothers are a necessary reflection of who God is and what God is like. Jesus wept over his people and wanted to gather Jerusalem under his protective wing like a mother hen. There is a protective self-giving love that we all long to know. For many of us, we found that in our mothers. Our fathers told us to get up and get back on our bike as they should have. Our mothers bandage our knees and kiss our imaginary wounds.

Motherhood is not easy in a world that continues to push the value of things that are shiny then rust. What our culture doesn’t value but desperately needs is the love security and safety of moms who have learned to trust God in the mundane.

I remember when I was young. I didn’t understand loss. I didn’t understand why moms would tear up on mother’s day. Sandra and I lost our first baby. It was devastating. I think of our baby girl often. I used to think when mom’s lost a baby, they can try again. I now know that each of those babies has a name. Each of those babies is a loss. Mothers day reminds us of what we have but also of what we have lost.

If mother’s day is hard for you. If you have lost a mother or never had one. The gospel gives you hope. You are loved by God with such brilliant love such that even the love of the best mother is only a shadow in His brilliance. The love we experience on earth is but a foretaste. The loss we experience on earth creates a longing for a better world. A world where all the sad things about this world become untrue.

The song “Always” by JJ Heller is a beautiful lament of the joys and losses the fill and break a mother’s heart.


You are the answer to the prayers I prayed.
And the hope in childhood games I played.
Pushing baby dolls in strollers
And dreaming of who you would be

You are the news I celebrated
That little blue line exclamation
Got me dancing in my bare feet
And I couldn’t help but sing.

You will always be my baby
You will always have my love
I will always, always be your mother
Always

You are the reason I was holding on.
Somehow I knew you were already gone.
So many questions without answers
‘Cause only God knows why

Now I think I’ve cried a million tears.
For all the laughter, we will never hear.
We lost you in the silence.
Before you had a chance to cry

You will always be my baby
You will always have my love
I will always, always be your mother
Always

And I would…

JJ Heller

To mothers and the motherless on this mother’s day. May you find in Christ what no mother on earth could provide. Run to Jesus. He is more than enough.

Loss, Lament, and Advent Hope

Mary's Song

It will be fine they can try again. I remember saying these words in my head upon hearing that someone we knew had miscarried. By God’s grace, I never said these words aloud. I had no idea the loss and pain that a couple goes through in losing a child through miscarriage. I now know as we lost our first child through miscarriage. Memories of the elation surrounding the first sounds of a heart beating to the depths of despair accompanying the sonogram showing no movement and no growth. The trip to the hospital to remove the life that no longer was. Untelling those we loved the news we had weeks before broke to them was a painful reminder of a life we would not see in this world. The questions of how the baby was doing by well-meaning people who had no idea were a further reminder of our silent pain.

We came through that season saddened but stronger. To this day I see kids her age, and I think of what she would have been like, and it makes me long for heaven. I actually think of her when we put out our stockings and buy presents for our kids. As we gather at Christmas, we are surrounded by those we love and are reminded of those we have lost. Our Christmas fests with empty chairs that serve as reminders of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb where every seat will be filled. What I found out in the years that followed is the loss that felt so crippling at the time can never be fully healed by time. It can never be replaced by another child. It can only be understood in light of the incarnation of Christ. Of a God Older than eternity, now for you and me has made himself new.

My wife and I lost our first and only child at the time without the promise or guarantee of ever having kids at all. This created in me when we did have kids being overprotective at times and telling them each morning before I left for work to “be safe” because my kids being ok was what made me ok. All of that changed when I was awakened to the gospel truth of what God had done for me in Christ. I realized that my family had become the functional god of my life. That if they were not ok, my life lost its meaning because I didn’t want to experience a loss like that again. I grew up in church and knew all the Sunday school answers to everything. I went to Bible College and learned more answers to more questions. I really did love Jesus, but it wasn’t until I was 31 years old that I found Jesus beautiful. Up until that point in my life, he was, in all honesty, more useful than beautiful.

It wasn’t until I experienced loss myself and walked other people in our church though painfilled loss that I began to see my need for God’s help like I had never before seen. I came across this poem a couple of weeks ago, and it reminded me of the beauty of Christ and the pain of loss.

Mary’s Song
by Lucy Shaw

Blue homespun and the bend of my breast
keep warm this small hot naked star
fallen to my arms. (Rest…
you who have had so far
to come.) Now nearness satisfies
the body of God sweetly. Quiet he lies
whose vigor hurled
a universe. He sleeps
whose eyelids have not closed before.

His breath (so slight it seems
no breath at all) once ruffled the dark deeps
to sprout a world.
Charmed by dove’s voices, the whisper of straw,
he dreams,
hearing no music from his other spheres.
Breath, mouth, ears, eyes
he is curtailed
who overflowed all skies,
all years.
Older than eternity, now he
is new. Now native to earth as I am, nailed
to my poor planet, caught that I might be free,
blind in my womb to know my darkness ended,
brought to this birth
for me to be new-born,
and for him to see me mended
I must see him torn.

For him to see mended, I must see him torn. For him to see mended, I must see him torn. I remember saying something similar one night reflecting on the loss of someone I loved. I remember saying “can’t you see me my heart is broken” “can’t you see this family is torn.” Looking back now the problem wasn’t my heart being torn. The problem was my inability to see that for my heart to be mended I must see Christ torn. Seeing and savoring Christ is the only remedy for a torn heart He was torn so you could be made whole. He was caught so you might go free.

He was blinded in the womb to know my darkness ended. I believe that I will see my oldest child one day. My hope as a Christian is reflected in the gospel hope Jonathan Edwards so eloquently stated: “Our bad things turn out for good. Our good things can never be lost. And the best things are yet to come.” That is the gospel hope we all need this Advent season. Jesus thank you for coming yet still come quickly.