A sword would pierce Mary's heart

When Jesus was eight days old, his parents took him to Temple for the usual rituals that a good Jewish family observed in those days. A few years later they were still doing all the right righteous things a family did with their little boy. When he was 12 years old they went to Jerusalem, as they had done every year, to the Temple for the feast of Passover. In Matthew 2 it says: “when Mary and Joseph had done everything required by the Law of the Lord….” Mary and Joseph did everything “right.” During the eight days old trip, two wise old folks gladly greeted this new little babe with some awesome insights and some very bad news! Anna and Simeon knew He was the fulfillment of many prophecies and that He had come to bring redemption and salvation for God’s people. Both said so loud enough that all around could hear. Then Simeon mentioned quietly to Mary the bad news: that a sword would pierce his mother’s heart. (Refer to Matthew 2:21-42.)

For years after that, Jesus lived a relatively normal life while he grew in strength and wisdom. Then, just as his career was really taking off, he was murdered! Scriptures say it was all part of the plan of redemption for all of us, but it was still murder from his mother’s perspective. For some of you, your child died just as his career was taking off. Some of you they died by murder.

You may have tried to do everything “right” as this family did. Maybe you went to church and Sunday school faithfully. Maybe you read scripture every night with the child. You probably taught them to pray. But, just like in this family, your child died. Like Mary, you parents know that piercing pain that Simeon prophesied. When the doctor said the diagnosis or told you they couldn’t do anything more to resuscitate your child, the words pierced your heart.

Like the holy family, you know God had a plan for your child. She or he was born for a purpose, as Jesus was. Maybe not the planned redemption of all mankind, but a purpose within God’s redemptive story nonetheless. And, I am sorry to say, that purpose may include some pain, even the piercing pain of grief. Doing all the “right” things God may require does not eliminate that possibility. We can’t earn our way into God’s family or His heavenly home (it’s by grace, a gift) and we can’t earn a good easy life. What happened in your family and to your child is all part of God’s redemptive plan in history. (I know that though there are certainly many questions related to “how can this be!” but it’s true anyway.)

One conclusion to all this is this: It is not your fault! There is no thing you did or didn’t do that would have changed His plan or earned you a different role in His story.

“'For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11

He still has plans for you. Plans that are good and pleasant. When you get to see the whole picture from God’s heavenly perspective, you’ll see how it all fits nicely. For now you get to chose to believe this or not. But in the believing is relief of faultfinding and blame. In the believing is hope rather than hopelessness. May you know peace, as you trust Him that He has plans not to harm but to give you a hope-filled future.