Thursday, January 24, 2019

Rachel Weeping for her Children

When I read the Bible all the way through for the first time, Matthew 2:18 left me feeling unsettled. "A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be comforted, because they are no more." I first associated this verse with Moses' time as  Pharaoh ordered the midwives to kill Jewish babies in Egypt and the time when Christ was born and all boys under the age of two were to be put to death. As I held my own babies in my arms, I often thought about those verses and was unable to wrap my mind around the brutal orders given that were responsible for the deaths of so many children. As I stood over the baby-sized coffin weeping with my friend, my heart ached for every child lost and for every mama that has stood with empty arms and engorged breasts, weeping for the child she has had to lay to rest. Those Mamas would never hear their babies cry again. Never hear them laugh cute little belly laughs. Never hear them call for her after a bad dream. Never hear them sing or watch them dance to music. Never watch them play tag or catch a ball. Never celebrate milestones those miles stones we take for granted--those first steps, birthdays, graduations, and future marriages and grandchildren. I couldn't help but believe that Rachel could be heard weeping with all grieving Mamas.  

As I read through the Old Testament, I saw some other things I believed might also cause Rachel to weep. As Israel moved into the Promised Land, some of them made unholy alliances with people who were steeped in pagan worship. The pagan religions were often fear-based and centered around the worship of idols that represented angry gods. To appease the angry gods, sacrifices were made and sometimes these sacrifices were humans. Daughters who were coming of age were taken to these temples to be sexually abused and trafficked by the temple priests so that a family could find favor with an angry god. Some parents offered babies as human sacrifices to be burned on the alter of idols made of stone. It was common enough that God forbid this practice in His Law. He cared so much for those babies that He required the death penalty for those sacrificing children. I can't help but believe that as young daughters were taken and left in priest arms and babies were placed on altars to be burned that Rachel could be heard weeping--weeping for the horror those precious children experienced for religions sake. 

It is easy for us to judge those who sacrificed babies in pagan worship. But, aren't we just as guilty of sacrificing our children? We have sacrificed them when we let godless schools and daycare centers raise them so we can live more comfortably while all the while they are being indoctrinated with perverted, confusing ideology. We sacrifice them by spending so much time on our phones and computers and watching TV that we leave them feeling invisible, unheard, and unloved. Some sacrifice their children by trafficking them to pay for the drugs they need to calm their addiction. Some sacrifice their children to protect their families' reputations and cover the horrific abuse going on in their home. Some sacrifice their children to the god of lust when they bring pornography into the home, leaving it in the bathroom or on computers where it is easily access my little ones. Some sacrifice their children by having them literally sucked and scraped out of the womb for convenience sake. We may not be offering our children to gods of stone, but we are offering them to gods of ease, god's of unbridled pleasure, god's of selfishness, god's of addictions, god's of pride, and god's of convenience. I can't help but believe that Rachel can still be heard weeping for the children who need to be loved and protected..

For years I have prayed that our government would reverse laws that allow abortion. But instead, the period in which legal abortions can occur has been extended to the point that in one state it is no longer 24 weeks, it is up to full term. And what hurts the heart most is that when the law was signed into being, people applauded--applauded the lives terminated by abortion in the past, those being terminated now, and those that will be terminated in the future.

Our church put up crosses in its lawn. Each cross represents the lives lost every day to abortion.

I can't help but believe as I look at all of those crosses that we can hear Rachel weeping for the children and you and I should be weeping with her..

I sat by the incubator of our granddaughter who was born at 26 1/2 weeks. And, as I prayed for her, I observed she was already perfectly formed with a head full of golden curly hair. She was active, fully showing her spunky little personality. I realized that we had been given a glimpses of life as it is in the womb and I wondered how anyone could terminate a life that so precious. I have also wept with loved ones who lost their babies to miscarriages and with those who were never able to conceive. All wanted babies they could not have and struggled with the idea that others were aborting their unwanted babies. And I believe Rachel understood and was weeping right along with us. 

I know the sacrificing of children has occurred within the walls of churches, too. It has occurred when abuse has been reported and covered up to protect the abusers and the churches' reputation. It has occurred when church going women and teens get abortions to cover the shame they feel over pregnancies conceived outside of marriage. Those in the church who choose abortions are filled with guilt, shame, depression, regret, and grief. And thankfully, churches in our area provide safe groups in which women confess to one another, grieve the babies they terminated, and come to fully believe that God's grace is bigger than the shameful choices they made. I am sure every year in those groups Rachel can be heard weeping along with the ladies who have the courage to attend. 

The psalmist wrote, "For you formed my inward parts, you knitted me in my mothers womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made...In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them." Oh, that we would understand that our God is the giver of life and that it is not our right to terminate it. God at times even revealed his plans for people's children to the parents before they were born. John the Baptist was one of these people. He was to prepare the way of the Lord. Amazingly, he recognized the Messiah that Mary was carrying in her womb and he leapt in his own Mama's womb as Mary approached her. One Mama who was adopting a baby gave a tape of her singing songs to her baby's birth Mom to play against her belly. And when she sang those songs in the delivery room, the baby quieted and looked around for her. Babies in the womb are not just clumps of tissue growing. They are babies fashioned by the living God. Oh, how I long for the return of Jesus. He will destroy our sick laws so He can rule in perfect love and in perfect righteousness, wiping away every tear that every "Rachel" has wept. 

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Several years ago I realized that I often sped through my Scripture reading and gave it little thought. Yet, when I had meaningful conversations with friends or family members I replayed them over and over in my head. One day it occurred to me, that if I thought more about what God says in his word that I would not only know more about Him, but I would come to know Him in a personal way. I would know more about His thoughts, His character, His intentions, His passions, and His actions. So, I began to take one verse at a time and think on it and then journal about it. At the time I was served as a volunteer in youth ministry and shared my “Thoughts on God” with those girls. For a while I have been rewriting and posting them on this blog. I have realized when I am in the Word or move through my day focusing on God's presence that I have wonderful opportunities to Meet God in the Everyday. The Everyday can include storms, blessings, hard things, scary things, exciting things...just any where, anyplace, any time. I hope that you will be able to engage with what I write with both your head and your heart. I also hope you will be challenged to love, trust, and know the God of the Scriptures. It is my prayer that as you read you will experience Him at a deeper level and share pieces of your journey in the comments. It is my desire that we form a safe community of believers who pursue the God who loves us radically, eternally, and without reserve. As a precious pastor once told me, "Don't forget, Wendy, God is Good!" I find myself compelled by His Goodness and His Love to share so others can know Him through all the ups and downs of life. Please feel free to dialogue back and to share how each passage impacts you. If if there is a passage you would like me to write on or if you would like to be a guest blogger, please let me know. I am just learning to navigate this blog and appreciate the kind comments you have made in the past...I promise I will even try to respond if you leave a note. If you are blessed please share the blog with friends!