When Death Steals a Mother’s Son at Christmas

On Tuesday morning a brown-eyed, grinning boy rollerbladed across a quiet stretch of road to the mailbox, as did my son and maybe yours too.

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But this mother’s son—he never brought the mail back.

The truck driver never saw him and Death shattered the beauty of a warm December morning with the squealing clash of flesh and metal.

He was only nine, this boy. His name was David.

I knew his face—he scribbled notes in Science class next to my own laughing, brown-eyed boy.

The reality that Death can steal any mother’s son anytime strips me raw—I feel the sting of sorrow, the throbbing ache of fear.

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Death sidles into an ordinary day and startles us with the reality of our fragility. Death wakes us in the middle of the endless pantomime of dishes, duty, and discipline and stabs us through the heart.

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As I watch a fellow mother walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I taste what it means to not know the day or the hour. As I tuck my sons and daughter in bed, stroke their backs and kiss their cheeks, I know a bed lies empty in a house nearby while a mother weeps deep in the night.

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Death calls us to wrestle with the truth that the end is written into the storyline of our lives, we just don’t know when

The truth is—the reality of Death scares me breathless and I wonder if my faith will survive the weight of it.

As I grieve for the mother who weeps in the night, I wonder: Has the Lord forgotten to be gracious? Has his steadfast love failed? Has his compassion dried up? Will his promises really be true till the end? [1]

But then I remember . . . .

I remember a God who spoke from the whirlwind, calmed the raging storm, raised a dead boy to life, redeemed my stubborn soul from the pit, and opened my blind eyes to the beauty of his Son.

I remember his faithfulness and cling to his promise:

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you: I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God.”[2]

In the midst of uncertainty and sorrow, I remember God’s Only Son died that we might live.

And this is the promise we cling to—Death is not the end, it is the beginning, for “Everyone who lives and believes in [Jesus] shall never die.”[3]

How precious is the death of those who know Jesus, for they see him face-to-face, and so will we, when he raises us to New Life—eternal life—in Him.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

Becca B.

Someday we will dance together again . . . . 

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Reflection Questions

What losses have you known in this life? What have they taught you about God, about yourself?

Do you live afraid to feel too much because of what you might lose? How does clinging to the promises of Jesus awaken you to living life fully?


How do you close off from the sorrow of life to protect yourself from pain? How can you look to Jesus for hope in the midst of sorrow and begin to fully live?

[1] Psalm 77: 7-9, my paraphrase

[2] Isaiah 43: 1-3

[3] John 11:26

[4] Psalm 23:6

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