Weeping with Those Who Weep (on a Day of Celebration)

New Year’s Eve has typically been a joyful time of celebration and meaningful traditions for our family, but this year, there is a deep sense of sadness that overshadows the festivities. This year, God is bringing faces to my mind.

Faces of certain women who are, right now, deep in the midst of suffering.

The woman grieving the unexpected loss of her twelve-year-old son just weeks ago.

The young newlywed who unexpectedly lost her husband just yesterday.

The woman abandoned by her husband after two decades of marriage.

The woman in the middle of enduring chemotherapy.

The woman who has suffered five miscarriages and aches for a baby.

The woman living with regret over her past.

The woman grieving those choices that her grown child has made.

So much brokenness. So much pain.

I know some of these women well, and others, not very well. But my heart hurts for each of them as I imagine the indescribable suffering they are going through. I pray for them constantly as their faces flash through my mind.

We all have, or will be, in a place of deep suffering at some point in our lives. This knowledge should drive all of us to the compassion that we hope to be met with when our day of trial is here.

New Year’s Eve has always been a time of reflection for our family. We reminisce over memories from the current year, share hopes for the next, and pray prayers of thankfulness and celebration, and sometimes, some of those recollections and prayers are sad ones. But the extraordinary loss surrounding us this year is stirring up new thoughts for new traditions that my family needs to make. In the midst of times that are typically joyful, I don’t want to ignore the faces of those that are not feeling festive today.

A friend recently reminded me of this sobering passage:

A good name is better than precious ointment,
    and the day of death than the day of birth.
It is better to go to the house of mourning
    than to go to the house of feasting,
for this is the end of all mankind,
    and the living will lay it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
    for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
    but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.

While prayers of thankfulness and joy are absolutely appropriate and vital, my family will be adding a New Year’s Eve tradition which is not “fun,” but is deeply important:

As a family, we will set aside a time to focus on praying for those who are suffering, grieving, or heartbroken.

This year, the need is so obvious to me, as tragedy seems to be touching so many we know personally. But really, this is something we should have been doing all along, even when suffering hasn’t been so close to home.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  

An intentional time of family prayer for those who are walking through the deepest valleys is so important and simple, that I’m ashamed to have not thought of making it a part of our New Year’s traditions before. But we are always learning, aren’t we?

I hope you’ll join me in praying for those who are weeping today.

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