Matthew 5:4 NIV
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
I published this devotional for the first time on Mother’s Day, 2006, and again in 2007. I got such an overwhelming response to it both years, I decided to share it again with you this year.
In 1985, my mother was dying of cancer. She had discovered a lump in her breast in June of 1982, and by the time the mastectomy was done, the lump had grown so large that it was wrapped around two of her ribs. There was little hope, but she fought the cancer valiantly for three years. The Monday before Mother’s Day, 1985, I had an overwhelming urge to go home to see her. She was in the hospital in Little Rock, and I lived and worked in Houston – over 500 miles away. I was in the middle of producing the first telethon for the Houston chapter of the March of Dimes, scheduled for the end of June, so taking off from work for a few days to drive home wasn’t in the books. I had to fly. And I was broke.
After arguing with myself for 24 hours over charging something I couldn’t afford to pay for, I gave in and put the round trip ticket on my credit card. I would be flying out on Saturday morning, and my former brother-in-law would pick me up at the airport and take me to the hospital so I could surprise both of my parents. When I walked into Mama’s room Saturday afternoon, I had a big red bow pinned to the top of my head, and said, “Happy Mother’s Day! Here’s your present!”
Mama was thrilled, and we spent all day and into the night talking. I spent the night at my parents’ home Saturday night, went back to the hospital and spent a few more hours with Mama, then my father took me to the airport for my flight back to Houston. As I flew home, I thought about what a great visit it had been. I did not know that it would be the last.
On June 1, 1985, my mother died. My sons and I had flown home the day before, but she was so far gone, she was barely aware of anyone’s presence. The doctors had been asked to keep her as comfortable as possible and to “take no heroic measures” to keep her alive. My father and I wanted to allow her to be free of all that pain, no matter how hard it was for us to let her go. Saturday morning, she was gone.
One interesting aside is that I never received a bill for that airline ticket! I can only assume that the Lord sent the bill to “data heaven”, because it never came to me!
For the next ten years, every Mother’s Day, no matter how hard I tried not to, I would end up in tears for several hours, unable to get past my grief that was so closely associated with that final Mother’s Day visit with my mother. Every year, I’d tell myself I was past all that, and every year, something would happen to knock me off that tightrope of recovery from grief and slam dunk me back into mourning once again for my mother.
In 1995, my son and daughter-in-law were expecting their second child. The pregnancy was extremely difficult, and Trish was in and out of the hospital again and again. We were all living in southwest Missouri, near Branson. On Friday afternoon, May 12th, I had been into Branson to take something to my husband who was working on the Showboat Branson Belle, as was my son, Guy. When I got home, Trish was at my house, sitting at the dining room table with my next door neighbor. Both of them looked very shaken up. I said, “What’s going on?” And in a very shaky voice, Trish said, “My water broke.” My first words were, “It’s too soon!” The baby was not due for another 8½ weeks!
I grabbed the phone and called the Showboat office, telling the woman who answered to get Guy off the showboat and send him to Springfield, and that I’d meet him at the hospital with Trish. I knew the boat was out on a cruise, so I didn’t know how they would accomplish that feat. I later learned that they cut the cruise short to get Guy back to the dock – otherwise, I have no doubt he would have jumped ship and swam all the way back to shore!
I took the long route to the hospital, because the shortcut would have put me through far too many isolated areas, where I would be too far from help if I needed it. The long route would take me past two other hospitals and three small emergency clinics, so I’d be near help if Trish got into trouble. It took us over an hour to get to the hospital – I must say that it was the longest hour of my life!
Guy was pacing the sidewalk in front of the hospital when we drove up, and he quickly put Trish into a wheelchair and took her inside. After we got her settled into a labor room, I called the showboat again and told them to et my husband off the boat when it landed. His boss was the person who answered the phone, and she very nastily told me that J.R. “has another cruise to do today”. I don’t recall exactly what my next words were, but J.R. said I apparently scared the wits out of his boss, because she had nearly yanked him off the boat, telling him to wait at the gate for “that wife of yours” to pick him up!
We drove straight back to Springfield, and went straight to the labor room – which was empty! Confused, we started looking around, and finally found Guy talking with a doctor. Trish had been rushed to surgery for an emergency c-section. The baby had the cord around her neck, and was going to die if they didn’t get her out. The problem was, it appeared she might die anyway.
Christian Kate was a very sick little girl when she was born. In fact, the doctor wasn’t giving us a lot of hope, and asked if we’d like to come into the NICU and hold her, with the implication that it might be our only hance. J.R. and I said no, that we could do her more good elsewhere. The doctor looked at us like we’d grown three heads, and went back into the NICU shaking her own head in confusion. We turned on our heels and headed for a bank of pay phones down the hall, where we began calling everyone whose phone number we could remember, asking them to pray for our little Christian Kate.
Two hours later, we were back at the NICU, and could see the doctor standing over Christian’s crib looking confused. She glanced up and saw us, and came outside immediately. She said, “I don’t know what’s going on, but that baby is getting stronger by the moment!” We both grinned and I said, “We know what’s going on. God’s answering a thousand prayers and healing our baby girl.”
Seven hours later, they took Christian off the ventilator because she was breathing on her own! And two weeks later, we took her home – six and a half weeks before her due date!
Two days after Christian was born, we were invited to scrub, don surgical gowns and go into the NICU where they would allow us to hold her. A little nervous because she was so tiny and there were so many wires and tubes attached to her tiny body, I sat in the rocking chair they’d placed next to her crib, and two nurses very carefully laid Christian in my arms for the very first time. It was Mother’s Day, 1995, and as I sat there holding that precious little life in my arms, I could feel God healing my heart that had been broken ten years earlier. In many more ways than one, Christian Kate is my miracle baby, the one that God brought into the world early so she could heal my heart.
Christian is a very special young lady who lights up every room she enters, and touches the heart of every person she meets. She has a great sense of humor, and doesn’t hesitate to laugh at herself when she has a “blonde moment.” She’s a straight “A” student, on the Student Council, and was just awarded “Most Outstanding Student” in all five of her classes, AND the entire sixth grade! This year, Christian and her little sister, Amber, participated in an after school Christian choir. Christian had one of the lead roles in their choir production that was performed in several area churches. Four summers ago, she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior and was baptized. Yesterday, she celebrated her 12th birthday, and is almost as tall as I am! She still fills my heart to overflowing every time I see her, because she is one of God’s special miracles in so many ways.
If your heart is hurting with a wound that just won’t seem to heal, be comforted with the knowledge that Jesus knows right where you are, and He weeps with you, matching you tear for tear. Tell him about your pain, even though He knows already, and ask Him to heal your heart in a special way, one that will bless you far beyond the loss that brought you pain. And as you wait for that healing, know that because you mourn you are blessed, and you will be comforted.
The LORD is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The LORD protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, he saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul,
for the LORD has been good to you.
For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.
Psalm 116:5-9 NIV
Used with Permission