My Name Is?

Love came to me this week just as I prayed it would.  Even though I was waiting for it, it surprised me.  The tablet of my heart is nearly full from all the writing Jesus did upon it this week.  I am desperate to jot it all down here….for you, for me.  There is one word however that stands out from the rest, one experiential name that has captivated me.  It is my honor and privilege to inscribe it to you now.
Comforter.God used my son John to bring this message to life for me.

He has always had an old soul.  Nearly seven and he blows us all away with his vocabulary, his questions and his refined humor.  John and I have always seemed to have a way with each other.  My mom used to tell me that God made a copy of her heart and placed it in me.  It appears the same could be said for John and his mama.  Our spirits are similar and undoubtedly intertwined.
Earlier this week he came and stood before me, his joyful, mischievous eyes hinting for me to ask the question, “Johnny, what are you doing?”  His reply, “Just you wait mama, you are gonna love this.  I am making you a present.  It might take me all day, but I’ll have it ready when you get home tonight.  Don’t forget to ask me for it, okay?”
The day was long, in work and in spirit.  The gnawing sense of incompleteness and vacancy I wrote about last week was ripe with insecurity and fear.  A whisper came, “The Lord is my Shepherd.”  I was busy, not in the mood to be occupied by anything else- I shushed it away.  I made a mental note- read the 23rd Psalm later.  That evening I was helping John to straighten his room before bed.  I picked up a piece of paper from his nightstand, caught my breath and then inquired, “Johnny, what is this?”  He looked up, a bit deflated and said, “That’s your present mama. I forgot to finish it, but I guess that’s okay.”
I clutched the paper to my heart, careful not to crumple it and grabbed John into my arms and pressed a kiss, full of wonder and gratitude to his forehead.
 “The Lord is my shepherd, He gives me everything”
That night I fell asleep within the blessed assurance that God was in fact pursuing me with more love.  “The Lord is my shepherd, He gives me everything,” I chanted.  I waited for a massive impact, some deep down change or enlightenment…it didn’t come.  I fell asleep.
The next morning as I cleaned up all the messes I was simply too tired to get to the night before, I came across yet another piece of holy scribbling by John:
There was no Bible next to it, nothing to copy from, it stood alone.  It reads,
“So the words that were spoken through Jeremiah the prophet were fulfilled. A voice is heard in Ramah, wailing and loud laments.  It was Rachel weeping for her children and refusing all consolation because they were no more.”  Matthew 2:17
I looked up at Chris, shocked, awed, and completely enlightened in that moment to all the ways God had been speaking to me.  I processed, The Lord is my Shepherd…Rachel refusing to be comforted.  Each of these words converged with the other and I found myself staring at one complete message from Jesus.  I pray God gives me a fluid and clear way to decode it here:
The Cry
Who is Rachel?  In essence, she is the first recorded mother of deep sorrow.  She died moments after giving birth to her second son. In her agony and suffering she cried out just before giving up her last breath, “His name shall be Ben-Oni…son of my sorrow.”  The initial account is recorded in Genesis and is referenced again by the prophet Jeremiah and again in the gospel of Matthew.  In essence the writers, separated from Rachel by thousands of years, are communicating that she can still be heard weeping for her children.  The image comes to me of Rachel’s corpse bearing down on a somber, low and hollow note of an ancient organ, a song that bellows throughout the generations, “I have nothing, my children are dead.”
Rachel weeps without a comforter.  In fact, the verse proclaims that she will not, she refuses, to be comforted.  Is there hope for Rachel?  I remember two years into my grieving a day when I said to my sister, “I don’t feel like my name is just Kate anymore.  It feels like my name has become- Kate, mother of a dead Anna.”  Essentially, I could have said, “My name is Rachel, I have nothing.”
I have been asking myself a question all week.  May I be so bold now as to ask it of you? Do you answer to Rachel?  Is the last key your life played since the loss of your child (or any sort of loss) a lament, a hopeless note? In your mourning for your child, do you essentially cry out, “I have nothing?”  Do you refuse to be comforted because you are so unsure of the one who declares Himself to be the Comforter?
 The Comforter
Just a few months after we lost Anna my therapist encouraged me to read a book entitled, “Safe In The Shepherds Arms.”  I bought the book.  I got two pages in and felt so angry that I nearly hurled it across the room.  How could the psalmists words be true?  How could I join him and proclaim, “I have everything I need, I do not lack or want for anything,” when all I wanted was for heaven to open and for Anna to be dropped back into my arms.  At the time, I was unable to push through my anger and confusion to discover the life boat that the psalm actually is for those drowning in the sea of sorrow.
The 23rd psalm proclaims the Shepherd to be our comforter, our guide, nurturer, restorer, refresher, protector and one who will pursue us with His love all the days of our life and for all eternity.  The psalm is rich with promises of the everything Jesus can become to the suffering child of God.  I well remember the days of meandering through the valley of death questioning and rejecting the Shepherd.  But I also remember the day I got swaddled up in His comfort and I haven’t been the same since.
In the days between Christ’s resurrection and ascension He tells His disciples that He will pray to the Father and ask for the Comforter to come to abide with them forever. “I will not leave you comfortless” He said (John 14:15-18).  The Greek word here for comforter is paraklete, which means advocate.  Paraklete comes from the word parakletos which literally means to come to one’s side. So, the Comforter is the one who comes to our side, to advocate and to be with us.
The Comforter Responds To The Cry
It is excruciating, to live here in the world, simply excruciating at times. And there is and will continue to be weeping and wailing.  But our hearts are able to be invaded by the Shepherd and He makes bold promises to those who mourn:  promises of comfort, promises of a soul invasion of peace and nurture and love of the deepest sort for our moments of horrific, gut wrenching pain and sorrow.
Of all the scriptures God could have lifted out for me this week, He chose for my son to scribble down these two passages…why?  Without a doubt I believe God is saying, “I hear their cries, I hear their weeping and their wailing and I ache for those who do not know my comfort- I long to be their Shepherd in the dark valley of death.  I ache to bring my everything into their nothing.”
That everything includes the hope of redemption. The last chapter paints it like this:

“For the lamb  on the throne will be their Shepherd.  he will lead them to springs of life-giving water.  And God will wipe every tear from their eyes…There will be no more death or mourning or or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev 7:17,21:4).

 

I am following the Shepherd.  I have spent many years in the valley and I have spent many years basking in the glorious light of the mountain.  I know more valley’s are ahead of me…death is inevitable, as is my own. I cannot begin to express in words the joy and anticipation I feel for the day I will finally see the One who I have been listening to, trusting in and receiving from in the dark. This will be the day when all of my questions are answered and the day when I will be comforted one final glorious time. The day when my tears will once and for all be wiped away and when I will finally see the look in His eyes, the one He always gave me, the one that the veil of earth prevented me from seeing.  They will be eyes which reveal grief, tenderness, compassion, comfort and love.  But perhaps I am most eager to see His look of joy when I embrace my Anna for the first living time…and never ever will I have to let go.

After Rachel named her child, Ben-Oni, “son of my sorrow,” she died.  Do you know what the baby’s father did?  He renamed him Benjamin, “son of my right hand.”  In essence He renamed Him, the son I will come along side of, the son I will be comforter to.  The Heavenly Father offers us the same name trade, from child of sorrow to child of my comfort.
This past week God answered my prayer for more love.  He reminded me of who He was to me in my darkest hours, and who He has been to me every day since.  He is my ever-present Shepherd and in Him I have everything I need. I pray this page flows hope to each of you weary in grief, desperate for more love and eager for the Shepherd who offers you His everything.
My name is Kate, child of comfort.  What is your name?

Comments

  1. says

    Kate, I am so encouraged by this post. Thanks for sharing with us everything that Jesus is sharing with you. I couldn’t help but think of 2 passages:
    Matthew 5:4…Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
    and…
    2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
    Thank you for letting Jesus comfort you where you mourn, and thank you for passing it on to us…love you!

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