Lesson nine, the last study chapter of our Bible study, Threads of Hope, Pieces of Joy, is called “Finding Joy.”
The first passage we discussed here is in Ezra 3:10. The Israelites have just come back from 70 years in Babylon. The temple and city of Jerusalem had been destroyed and they had returned to find destruction everywhere they looked.
This passage is the account of what happened when the builders set the foundations for a new Temple. It was a big event and the people gathered together. The priests and the Levites, who had been appointed to praise the LORD, began their song: “He is good; and his love to Israel endures forever.” And all the people shouted in praise! What a wonderful time this must have been!
But the crowd was somewhat divided. It says that some shouted for joy, but those who were old enough to remember the former Temple wept aloud. And I don’t think this was weeping for joy, I think this was weeping in sorrow. Maybe they were grieving for their rejection of the LORD which had caused the destruction and captivity to begin with? Maybe remembering the loved ones who had perished in the siege of Jerusalem or in Babylon? Maybe just because they remembered the beauty and glory of the former Temple and this one just wasn’t nearly the same?
The study asks which group I relate to. I can definitely relate better to the older ones who wept. Call it a ghost town if you like, but the LORD had dwelt there in the Temple with His people! His leaving and the Temple’s destruction were horrible, terrible, dark days for these people. (And maybe He had promised to inhabit the new Temple, I don’t know, I haven’t studied that far along.) It was more than just the destruction of the building, it was a physical representation of their belief that the LORD had abandoned them.
Other verses in the study (Revelation 3:11 and 22:1) talk about our future home in heaven and how glorious and wonderful it will be, and I don’t dispute that at all! These are wonderful promises! It just seems so incredibly far away and some days it’s not helpful for me because it’s that pie in the sky kind of stuff. I still have to get up every day and know that I don’t have my baby and won’t for a very long time. Knowing that he’s in heaven and I’m not doesn’t make that sting less.
Psalm 137:1 is next. I think that this is one of the saddest Psalms in the Bible. While in Babylon, the Israelites were mocked by their captors. “‘Sing us one of the songs of Zion!’ How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?” Ouch!! And yes, I relate to this one too!
A dear friend gave birth two or three weeks after I lost my baby and it was months before I could even look at him! (Fortunately, she was very understanding and not offended.)
Even just a few weeks ago, we sat in church right in front of a couple with a small baby. I’m guessing, based on his size, that he’d been born about the same time my baby would have been born. My children were enthralled and kept turning around to look at the baby but my heart was aching. I’ve done a fairly good job of ignoring babies for these past months, but this was too close to ignore. 😦
How can I be truly happy for someone’s new baby? It is yet another reminder that I don’t have my baby.
Isaiah 43:18. Honestly, I almost didn’t get through this one. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”
It’s just TOO similar to something that was told to me after my husband’s death. It just so happens that I do not want to forget my husband. And I do not want to forget my baby! We did not get to hear his heart beat and we did not get an sonogram of him. I never wanted an sonogram with the other children, but after miscarrying I wanted to cling to everything I could to remember him.
So. . . instead of giving up on the study, I cheated. 🙂 I looked at what Kelly had to say about this passage. And I remembered that the next chapter deals with a memorial for my baby. So I am not sure what I need to forget (Kelly’s ideas sound pretty good) but I feel better knowing that the study’s authors are not saying to forget my baby. (Especially when they talk about Isaiah 49:15-16: “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will not I forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.”)
I guess this chapter is beyond my understanding. Or maybe I’m not there yet in the grief process. I am not sure what they mean about joy. What would it look like for me to have joy? Does that mean I’d no longer cry about not having my son? Or not have the daily reminders of him? People say that there is a difference between being happy and being joyful, but then go on to explain them both in the same way. I’m not going to forget my baby. But I’m not seeing any big, profound benefits to losing him either. More compassion for others who have lost children? More appreciation for the children I have? Those are good, but . . . I still want my baby!
And yes, even through the pain of this past year, there have been bright spots. (That’s why I do the Multitude Monday posts, to capture them and remember them.) There have been sweet times, there is laughter, there are wonderful memories. There have also been many tears and much pain.
I said that this is the last study chapter of this Bible study. There is, however, one more chapter left and it deals with making a memorial for my baby. I have been wanting to do something for my baby for months so I will take this opportunity for that! I am very excited (and nervous, and scared) about this. And maybe I should just keep this to myself? But. . . I plan to post it within the next week.