“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:20
I have heard many sermons preached on this passage (we all have), encouraging us to deny worldly pursuits and focus our attention and affection on “storing up treasure in heaven” by doing good works, serving our fellow-man, and giving our earthly goods to less fortunate people and institutions. These are all wonderful suggestions, worthy of our time and energy, and I believe them to be something we should all set our hearts and minds to do.
But my heart and mind went to another place when I heard the word “treasures” last evening while I was watching what I was sure would be a “safe” movie, with my beloved, on the Hallmark Channel. It’s that time of year, you know, when the Hallmark Channel runs sappy Christmas movies 24/7.
My love and I sat through an entire ridiculously corny movie last night without a single tear – after a very tearful day – until the final scene, when the 2 ignorantly love-struck characters finally realize they are indeed “made for each other”, proclaim their eternal devotion and tie it all up with a neat little bow by declaring “Christmas is the time of year when we want to be with those we love, cherish and treasure”.
Oh, the heartache.
The unfulfilled desire to be with all those I love, cherish and treasure.
The tears flowed, unchecked, again.
These tearful days are exhausting, and all too frequent this time of year. First comes the anniversary of his passing in October; then our wedding anniversary – which is still a joyous time; then Halloween – a time he would be traveling around with his 2 siblings who have children, collecting candy, which he loved; then Thanksgiving – a difficult conundrum of a day when being thankful is definitely on my heart and mind, but being sorrowful is resting heavily on my shoulders; then his favorite – Christmas day – which is also my favorite holiday.
The holidays are such a difficult time of year for those who have lost loved ones, and especially those who have lost a beloved child, grandchild or sibling. Those children, it feels, should still be here, seated at the Thanksgiving table, and around the Christmas tree. Their passing is oftentimes unexpected and tragic, leaving us feeling disoriented, like we’ve lost our equilibrium. And the holidays only increase this feeling of being on shaky ground.
As a Christian, I believe I know where my son is now. But this knowing doesn’t lessen the pain of his absence. There is nothing worse than this feeling of unfulfilled desire and longing, except the knowledge that this desire and longing for one of my children will NEVER be fulfilled here on this earth.
It is painful – sometimes excruciatingly painful.
God has given me so many amazingly wonderful treasures to have and hold here on this earth. One of them now dwells with God, and I am thankful I know where he is. But, this time of year, especially, I am a little heart-sick for him to be here with our family, enjoying the holidays with us.
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12
I know this desire to be with all my loved ones will one day be fulfilled, and that day will last for all of eternity; that knowledge keeps me going, putting one foot in front of the other, day after day.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:1 and 5
“Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth – he remains faithful forever.” Psalm 146:6
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in the hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given us.” Romans 5:1-5
“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24