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Giving Thanks in the Midst of Suffering
For those grieving the loss of a child to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), holidays can be really tough. Sometimes we simply go through the motions with the least exertion of effort, just trying to "make it through." And that's okay.
But it's also okay to enjoy the holidays. It's okay to find joy in other things while also deeply grieving the loss of your child. In fact, it is those sources of joy that will spark glimmers of hope and help bring healing to your heart over time.
When I consider the original "Thanksgiving," it was not a picture of family dressed up and sitting in comfy chairs in a central-heated dining room with a table decked with fine china, a perfectly roasted turkey, and an abundance of gourmet sides. Colonists gathered around their hand-built, humble, drafty log cabins with, sadly, many pilgrim family members missing. Half of the colonists were casualties of the previous harsh winter and diseases. And yet those who were present gave thanks. For the harvest. For health. For shelter. For the fellowship among family and friends they did have. For friendships and help from the Native Americans. For the hand of God on their lives.
When such precious LIFE has been robbed of you- life that you conceived, held, and loved.....it's hard to not allow the pain of your loss to overpower the gratitude you have for the gifts you DO still have. But giving thanks does not require a "feeling" to accompany it. You certainly may not "feel" grateful....but somehow the act of giving thanks causes a transformation inside us- and as a result we cannot help but experience deep, real joy.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:13, the Word says that we "do not grieve as those who have no hope." That hope- a confidence we have- is that our babies are alive, and they await a reunion with us in Heaven one day. Not only can we give thanks for the conception of our babies and their little lives that we did get to enjoy, but we can also be grateful for that day we long for- when we get to hold them once again.
The apostle Paul, who endured significant suffering himself, said in Philippians 1:21, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Our babies gained eternal life through their deaths. Right now, they are living and joyfully singing praises to God, never again subject to any kind of pain, heartbreak, or suffering. We can join our little ones from here by taking time this Thanksgiving to praise Him, too. By thanking Him for the hope we have. By thanking Him for the healing he brings. By thanking Him for the comfort he gives. By thanking Him for the goodness he brings out of the tragedies we suffer. By thanking Him for the friends he provides who walk alongside us to help hold us up when we can't hold ourselves together.