By Bethany Swanson
I recently watched a friend's four-month-old daughter, Lucy. I fed her, read books to her, changed her diapers, and took her on a walk in her stroller. During the last half hour of our day together, all she could do was cry. I tried everything I could think of to help her calm down, but none of my attempts worked.
I tried to comfort her by saying, "Sweet little one, I see you're sad, but everything's going to be okay," and I asked her, "What's wrong?"
I hoped that just hearing my voice might help soothe her in the little way that I knew how.
Unfortunately, all she could do was cry to let me know that something was wrong. In that moment she needed something I couldn't give - her mom. So I held her, rocked her in my arms and patiently waited for her mom to return. Once her mom came back and held Lucy the tears stopped rolling. She knew that she was safe and loved.
In today's reading, the Lord says "do not weep" to a woman who has just lost her only son. I can't help but see myself in the woman.
When my heart can't handle the sufferings of this world, I weep.
I weep at tragedy, at the loss of a loved one, at the brokenness, and at the pain that comes with living. I weep when my husband and I desire a child but another month passes with a negative line on the pregnancy test.
I'm also a lot like the little one I watched. I don't always see that everything's okay, or that all my true needs are being provided. I cry over things that are temporary and that are of this world. I don't trust that sometimes God's plan is good or that good can come from the suffering.
He hears the cries of my heart and understands.
In those moments God is holding me close to his heart like I held little Lucy. God whispers words of comfort through the scripture. He asks me to trust, and turn to Him, and to most importantly have hope. He asks me to trust like a child does their parents.
These moments are an opportunity to see Jesus more clearly. I can see the suffering of Jesus on the Cross and the loneliness He endured. I can also see his compassion for me on the Cross, just as He had compassion for the woman weeping. He cared deeply about her, and He lifted her pain by restoring the son that was lost to her. When I lay down my burdens, complaints, tears, and heartbreak at the foot of the Cross,
I can receive Christ's healing love in return.
Jesus cares deeply about my suffering. Just as He was deeply moved by the woman's tears, He sees mine too. He promises that someday those tears will be gone. Only rejoicing will remain in His kingdom. I try to rejoice and trust even when the world seems to have gone astray.
I rejoice in a Savior who is always good, loving, and who made the ultimate sacrifice for me.
As I grow in trust, I see the pain accompanied by many things to be grateful for. I see the good gifts that abound even amidst the darkest parts of my life. I strive to hear God's comforting voice, to rest in His love, and to see how the pain is helping me to grow. He transforms the brokenness of this life into a radiant crown. He gives me a reason to hope, a hope that transcends the pain of this world.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bethany Swanson studied Humanities and Catholic Culture at Franciscan University of Steubenville. She served as a Jesuit Volunteer with JVC Northwest and served as an assistant at L’arche Spokane. She’s currently a stay-at-home wife and blogger at Strengthen My Heart (http://www.strengthenmyheart.com/). She spends her free time reading, sewing, cooking, and learning photography. She’s originally from Oregon and is now enjoying the beaches and warm weather of California with her husband William.