Weeping Woman of Ramah

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(Matthew 2:16-18; Jeremiah 31:15; Isaiah 61:1-3)

P_Michele

There was no angel appearance to my husband—
No timely warning granted for us to flee the danger and death of Herod’s sword.

Know that I, too, would have fled.

I would have flown to the ends of the earth to dodge the flash of steel that ended my young son’s life, snuffed out to satisfy the jealous angst of a paranoid king.

Tricked out of a positive identification of his rival by the stealth of the wise men,
Herod reduced a precious population of baby boys to a
disposable demographic:
male child,
in Bethlehem and its districts,
two years old and under.

My son.

Yes, my tears were foretold by the prophet Jeremiah, and the Messiah survived to live and die in the manner God had ordained.
(Is it ironic only to me that my boy died in the place of the savior of humanity?)

God’s economy is strange.

I would never have removed a creature so fine as he before his time.
There is a great hole in the universe now.

But I am a daughter of Deborah, a woman of the Covenant, and I know Who it is that sits at the Potter’s wheel, Who molds the clay.
I am the work of His hand.
My son was also His vessel.

God is building His kingdom; I know this in my head.
But I am a mother, finite, and I see through a glass darkly.

And I would trade all that promise of righteousness, all that prophetic fulfillment
for one more day with my boy.

Is there ever an era or a set of circumstances in which a bereaved mother does not
sob ragged to frame these words:
Why my child?
Why not some other?

I do not understand, and Jeremiah was cruelly accurate in his prophecy,
for I will not be comforted:

Not by time.
Not by the kind consolation of thoughtful words.
Not by the probing questions, thinly veiled queries, which, over the years
have come to revolve around a single theme:
“Isn’t she over this yet?”

Weeping, I wait for my heart to heal.

Weeping, and finding no ready answer to the evil in the world—the evil in me—
I discover that my suffering creates a space in which I wait for the deep comfort promised by another ancient prophet:

Healing for the brokenhearted.
Consolation to those who mourn.
Beauty.
Joy.
Praise.

I wait for another coming of this Jesus, and I long to believe,
for I know
that shortly after I see His face,

I will see, once again, the face of my boy.

_____________

Image credit: Guilherme Yagui

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Michele Morin
I am wife to a patient husband, Mum to four young men and a daughter-in-love, and, now, Gram to one adorable grandboy. My days are spent homeschooling, reading piles of books, and, in the summer, tending our beautiful (but messy) garden and canning the vegetables. I love to teach the Bible, and am privileged to gather weekly around a table with the women of my church and to blog at Living Our Days about the grace I am receiving and the lessons from God’s Word that I am trusting.
Michele Morin

Latest posts by Michele Morin (see all)

Michele Morin
  • My goodness! How deep and aching and beautiful this post is, Michele. I almost can’t bear it and I love it so much at the same time. What a unique post of this story and I have never never read this perspective before, though I’ve thought about it in passing.

    You have such a beautiful gift of empathy and revelation and it shows up so powerfully in what you’ve written. Thanks so much… I’m glad I read this tonight. xx

    • I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on this weeping woman. I’ve never endured this kind of loss myself, so I’ve written from “outside the window.” The most heart-wrenching aspect of these women’s stories is that so few of them would have had ANY theological training at all, and therefore no wherewithal to arrive at the place where my weeping woman sat. She was mourning, but “not as others who have no hope.” I’d love to think that there were some who could have wrestled with their grief, set against the truth of resurrection and the redemption of all things . . .
      What do you think, Bev?

      • … and of course, there’s the benefit of hindsight, which none of them had. In reality, the women losing their baby boys would have been suddenly plunged into the nightmare that burst into their homes. They wouldn’t have known that Herod had been presented with his worst nightmare, that a child born now would be taking his throne. They wouldn’t have known that he’d isolated the town and the gender but not the child himself, and so wholesale slaughter of innocents was justifiable to him. Only Joseph (interesting that it wasn’t Mary, but the Baby’s stepfather) was warned, none of the other dads.

        We now look at the story and understand the whys, but those women would have borne the brunt of a megalomaniac’s orders with no understanding of the reasoning behind it. How dreadful.

        And yet Christ still redeems … He redeems that losses and the failures and the tragedies… The peace that passes all understanding means that we have to give up our right to understand. How ironic.

        Bless you, Michele. Thanks for asking what I think. It made me stop and ponder on it.

        Would you mind if I used it as a base to write a post for my own blog? I’ll link your post to mine so people can read where the original thoughts came from. xx

        • Thank you, Bev, for giving this topic some of your time. I knew your thoughts would be good ones. I would be beyond-happy for you write a post based on this woman from Ramah, and honored to be linked to it.

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  • Abby Norman

    I love the space this holds.

  • Oh Michele, so many places in God’s word we see only from one viewpoint. I love it when God’s word opens up to reveal so much more, so much humanity behind every story. Thank you for opening this familiar story for me in such an unfamiliar way. More and more I am seeing the ache in the story of Christ’s coming…and understanding in that why that coming was so, very needed.

    • We pray so often from the psalm: “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your Law.” Sometimes the things we see don’t feel wondrous, but are hard or convicting or unsettling. Still, I think there’s lot to be said for seeing the “ache in the story” as you have said. Thanks be to God that we are seeing it from this side of the cross, and therefore we have hope.

  • In all my years I’ve never given more than a passing thought to the mothers whose boys were killed by Herod. Such a touching, heart wrenching, yet beautiful post. Thank you for this new perspective.

    • So glad to have opened up a section of the Word to your eyes. I love the connection to Old Testament prophecy, and it’s helpful to hear other’s input here.

  • Michele … this is beautiful, thought-provoking, stirring my heart. Thank you, friend …

  • Hi Michele, this is awesome!
    A pain in the heart of Rachael! As a mother bereaved of her children…
    Thank you, friend for more shedding light on this..
    God bless

  • This is so beautiful, Michele. It stopped me and kept me glued to continue reading and I understood the heart-pain, if only sympathetically. I have often found my heart low as I read and thought of these mothers whose sons were taken and lost because of Herod’s hateful pride, I just can’t imagine. You shared a gift here, friend.
    Blessings,
    Dawn

    • The senseless -ness of this tragedy comes so close to some of the horrors that we are mourning as a nation right now. As mothers, we really can’t fully enter into the devastation of this sort of loss without having walked it, but I wanted to . . . recognize? honor? . . . at least to acknowledge the fact that in the midst of our celebration there are those who are deep in sadness.

  • Anne-Marie

    A good reminder, Michele, of all the mourning and danger around the death. The little ones. And the ache. All over the world, the ache. I will carry this today, and be still with it. Thank you.

  • cjdeboer

    So so beautiful, Michelle. Thank you for revealing your heart in such a moving and tender way. xo

    • Trusting that this woman’s story will give those who are truly mourning in this season a space in which to feel seen and heard.

  • Anne-Marie

    hmmm not around the death, but the danger around the birth. Hit send too fast!

  • Anne-Marie

    Hi Michele, three tries and hopefully this is it! A moving reminder of the loss around the birth, and the cost. The danger all the people of God were walking in, while waiting. And the little ones. The ache – all over the world, the ache. I will carry and ponder today. A wonderful reminder.

    • Anne-Marie, thank you for persevering with the comments. (Sometimes I just want to pick up the phone and SAY something instead of typing it, don’t you?) Yes, all over the world right now, and we can’t afford to let ourselves turn our faces away from the pain of others.

  • Leah Kostamo

    Wow, this is powerful, Michelle. Thank you for enfleshing the heart of every woman who has lost a child and waits for the comfort that comes through God’s son.

    • Leah, you have put words around my motivation for writing this post, and all of us, really, have a stake of some sort in the waiting for that comfort.
      “He comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.”

  • Carol Van Der Woude

    Your words are a reminder that Jesus came to a corrupt and suffering world. Thank-you for giving a voice to the mothers in Bethlehem. Jesus’ response to Mary and Mary, in the face of death, is our comfort. He said, “I am the resurrection and life.”

    • Yes, “so shall we ever be with the Lord.” So grateful for that hope which gives meaning to our suffering.

  • sandyhay

    I read a poem by Madeleine L’Engle from the perspective of Judas’ mother. This has invokes a similar response to me…chills. I am a mother of 2 sons and cannot imagine the agony . Thank you Michele.

    • I will certainly be looking for THAT poem. Madeleine L’Engle has been one of my “book mentors” for ages. Thanks for mentioning it, and for reading today.

  • Holly

    Stunningly haunting and beautiful and real and true. Thank you, Michele, for telling this story and for putting flesh on words in ways revelatory and heart wrenching.

    • Holly, you will identify with this struggle -> I planned to write ABOUT the slaughter of the innocents — third person, a look back at the prophets — but I found myself lapsing into first person as if this woman of Ramah wanted her story to be shared. I don’t mean this in a “creepy” way, but just to share that sometimes when we try to write to a theme, it may take us places that we never intended to go. Thank you for reading, and for your positive feedback.

  • Saskia Wishart

    I have shivers reading this. A story we so often skip over when we tell the story. Yet these women, their loss, this is part of the story too. You have given them honour with this piece today.

    • Oh, I hope so, and I hope that grieving women who read and who are tired of the “isn’t she over this yet” response that so often meets grief in our culture will feel seen and heard, because there is a God who bears grief and carries sorrow. Thank you, Saskia, for your encouragement in so many ways.

  • Thank you for these words of hope today. Thanks for honoring sacrifice and loss.

  • Left without words. This registered deep within my soul. My heart aches for every Mother who has lost a child and I am so humbled by their faith.

    • Absolutely, and this time of year must be especially difficult. I can only imagine the depth of pain and loss, and even the hope of a “someday-reunion” must ring a little hollow for them. Thanks, Lori, for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  • Angela M. Shupe

    My heart is gripped reading this, Michele. Beautiful and deeply moving. Thank you.

    • Angela, I’m so thankful that you have been challenged by this passage of Scripture. Blessings to you during this Advent season as we prepare our hearts for a meaningful celebration of Jesus’ birth.

  • topazshell5

    Thank you. Have never lost a son/daughter. Can’t imagine the pain and faith involved. Greatly moved by what you have written.

    • I haven’t suffered that loss either, and, like you, I can’t imagine the depth of pain. I was thankful for the opportunity to view the experience from the perspective of this long ago tragedy, and trust that I haven’t trivialized the heartache by fictionalizing the Woman of Ramah’s account of her agony.

  • Pam Ecrement

    What a powerful post, Michele! You highlight an important story and powerful telling! Thank you!!!

  • Mary

    Such moving words! I love the perspective you wrote from and how that woman must have felt when she lost her son. I am also the mother of sons and cannot imagine the pain losing a son would cause. Blessings as you begin a new week!

    • Yes, by some miracle of grace all four of my boys have survived up to this point. When I consider the truth that this is by no merit of mine, I am humbled and grateful, and my heart aches for mothers who are grieving the loss of a child.

  • Thanks for this stirring insight into Mary’s heart and mind, Michele. I’m a mom of boys too and cannot fathom the faith that it took for this mother to release her son into the Father’s hands. Inspiring post, my friend!

    • Let’s pray for grieving mum’s during this season.

  • Oh, this makes me cry, Michele. Thanks for making that story more personal to each of us. It’s not just random facts; it was real people living out real pain. May we use it to connect with real people around us this week. Thanks, friend!

    • Lisa, I love your sensitive heart, and I know for a fact that you are already putting yourself out there to love the unloved and the unseen. Thanks for all your encouragement in this direction through your writing ministry.

  • JosephPote

    Beautifully written, Michele! We sing of the joyous advent and too often forget the deep sorrow.

    I have begun using words such as “God’s perfect will” or “God’s direct intention” in speaking of just divorce. Each time I do, I am very aware of how counter-intuitive that phrase will be in such a context, to most Christians. Too often, we speak of God’s perfect will as though God’s will takes place in an alternate universe…a non-existent fairy-tale land where real evil either does not exist or is held at bay outside the doors of Christendom.

    But the Bible records numerous accounts of God’s pre-ordained prophesied will being carried out in the midst of tremendous evil and through tremendous sorrow.

    Thank you sharing this!

    • It is certain that evil does not take God by surprise, and the record does show that He allows it in order to serve His purposes — as in the case of Job, or the sacking of Jerusalem.
      As believers, we seem to feel a need to “let God off the hook” when bad things happen that we can’t explain, and it definitely is a challenge to come through lament with an intact theology of both the sovereignty and the goodness of God.
      Nothing goes to waste for those who believingly follow Jesus. Even our suffering is not for nothing.

  • Abby

    Michele, thank you for sharing this story which is often forgotten around the holidays. I remember during the horrible Sandy Hook tragedy a couple of years ago our pastor told this story, and it was such a timely reminder that this world is not our home. Yes, we mourn we ache for those lost, but thank God this isn’t the end. Thank you so much for sharing. Beautiful piece.

    • Thanks, Abby. In the light of all the tragedy around us, we do need to cultivate sensitive hearts toward those who experience the Christmas season as an anniversary of loss. Yes, thanks be to God that this is not the end.

  • Intentionally Pursuing

    Thank you, Michele, for shining a light on verses I’d rather skim past. The hurt they represent too much to consider. But remembering brings compassion, opens our hearts to those suffering now. Thank you, Michele, for sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday.

    • Yes, it’s much more fun to read about the angels and the shepherds, isn’t it? You’ve said this well: “Remembering brings compassion.” May we have hearts of compassion for those who suffer.

  • Erin Morrow Hawley

    Michele, what powerful words. I love how your story highlights–with very real grief and sadness but also hope–the tension between God’s goodness and His sovereignty. Though we see darkly now, we know all will be set right. All will be light. And as you say, somehow, even now, suffering creates a space for His deep comfort. A space that, if I’m honest, wouldn’t be as large or as open or as dependent upon Him were the world already set right.

    • Incredible insights you’re sharing here. I need to be reminded of the “not yet” aspect of redemption so that I can sit in that space and wait with peace. Thanks, Erin.

  • Michelle, I love how you’ve shed light on scripture that goes unnoticed. God keeps connecting us through the #RaRaLinkup and this week our devotions are both about losing loved ones and grieving. I love how Erin Morrow Hawley wrote below “the tension between God’s goodness and His sovereignty”. So much of life is spent in the tension. I love how your words confirm that one day we will experience His full, complete goodness. Thanks for the thoughtful, emotional post.

    • Yes, I’ve been reading a lot this month about the role that mourning plays in our celebration. We’re surrounded by such turmoil these days that it feels awkward to go into full-festive mode, so I’m glad that people are writing about it. The truth is that none of us knows how to resolve that tension, so for now we live in both places and hang onto the truth that there will be another Advent in which all things will be made right.

  • Joy Baker

    Wow. What can I say? I, who have never considered the death of these sons of Christmas, only The Son. The mother heart of Mary would know and understand their grief but years later. Truly Christ is the hinge of Christmas and is rightly our focus in Advent. Indeed a 365 day Advent would be the more appropriate. Today as I read your blog I realize that for Christ to reign there is cost; there is often great sacrifice. Am I, like this weeping woman, willing to pay the price for Christ to be exalted? Thank you for giving me pause to ponder.

    • Joy, what an absolutely convicting question you have floated onto this conversation. I am also pausing to ponder because my confessional theology is that Christ must be exalted above all things.
      Trusting for grace to bring my practical theology into line with that great truth.

  • Jerri Miller

    So beautiful! You’ve captured it so well, Michele. What joy when a weeping mother of Ramah is united with her precious boy! Only possible because of Jesus … < Jerralea

    • Only because of Jesus. Thanks for bringing us back to Him, Jerralea.

  • A heartbreaking story often forgot and what a unique way to tell it. My heart aches for moms who have lost a child. Michele, I’ve been blessed today as I’ve been linked up to you in two different linkups. Such a treat! Blessings to you my friend.

    • Thank you, Crystal, for this encouragement! Let’s pray for grieving mums during this season.

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  • Wow.. My heart is clenched. When we look at the Word and realize they were people. Feelings, life, love. Your words are beautiful. Thank you for a thought provoking post.

    • Isn’t it true that when we put ourselves into our reading of the Word and realize that these were not just cardboard characters, but actual people — we are THERE with them in their grief. Thank you, Misty for taking the time to read and comment.

  • Andrea Alford

    Breathtakingly beautiful. Thank you for this.

    • Andrea, thank you for taking the time to read, to ponder, and to comment.
      Every blessing.

  • pastordt

    Beautiful, Michele. Thank you.

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