Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
A dear friend recently walked us out under the night sky and asked if we ever named the stars. “What do you mean?” we asked, and he went on to point out stars that he had named for people close to him who had died. It struck Marti and me as a good way to remember our loved ones, and in some cases, mourn their loss. It gives a focus to our pain. God told Abraham his descendants would be like the stars in the heavens; obviously, this is not a new thought.
After showing us specific stars that had meaning to him, he pointed at the three stars of Orion’s belt and announced they were the triplets he had lost in his first marriage – a loss from which the marriage never recovered. He mentioned how he still hadn’t received any closure from that devastating death of three babies at birth. So he has the night sky to help him deal with it. There is pain in this, but there is also comfort. There is comfort in knowing they are with the Lord, and at least as valuable to Him as those stars. Those who mourn will be comforted.
We’ve had three miscarriages, and though we have named them, we haven’t given them stars. That’s a new idea. It’s a permanent reminder of a grief that is easy to forget. The verse doesn’t say, “Blessed are those who forget,” it says, “Blessed are those who mourn.”
It’s especially easy to forget babies without names – the results of miscarriages and abortions. The numbers of women who have had abortions is the same in and outside the church, which would lead you to assume that a lot of men and women, especially inside the church, have not had any closure over this. How many men and women are silently suffering losses they cannot talk about in light of the huge anti-abortion bias of many churches? This is a big tragedy, because church is the one place we should be receiving forgiveness and comfort, and yet in many churches it’s the one thing you can’t reveal.
And it’s important, as I have done here, to include women and men because, as we all know, it takes two to tango. Why is the woman so often the only one we talk about with abortion issues? Men are just as responsible for all those unnamed babies. Men just have an easier time compartmentalizing uncomfortable things away. That’s why they may need this exercise the most.
I suggest we all – men and women – walk out under the night sky tonight and start naming stars. Pick ones you can find easily so you can always turn to the sky and remember.
And then, be sure to mourn. This is the whole point, remember? Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.