Hope Mommies Wave of Light 2021
On October 15, 2021, I had the honor of hosting the Hope Mommies Wave of Light event and sharing about the "blessed hope" we have in Christ as we grieve. The following is a transcript from my talk:
Good evening, Hope Moms, Hope Dads, siblings, grandparents, family, and friends and thank you for joining Hope Mommies for this year’s “Wave of Light”. My name is Kristin Hernandez and I am so honored and grateful to be with each of you tonight as we reflect and remember the lives of your precious babies, draw near to God in worship and prayer, and reflect on the blessed hope we have in Jesus––the hope of salvation, redemption, and eternity with our children, but even more incredible and comforting, eternity with Him. For us and for our babies.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and October 15 is World Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Each October 15, people all around the world join together with bereaved parents, families and friends to light a candle at 7PM local time and leave it burning for at least one hour to honor babies lost before, during, and after birth, and to bring awareness and support for those who have experienced such a life-changing loss. This “wave of light” crosses time zones around the entire world.
This day––October 15, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day––carries many emotions for me as a mama with babies in heaven as I’d imagine it does for you too. I know this day can feel so personal and emotional and special and we are so honored that you would spend this time with us. It is an honor to remember your children with you.
We may or may not know your story, but we do know a special baby has touched your heart in a very big way. Whether you are a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a grandma, a grandpa, an aunt, an uncle, a friend, a nurse—we are all here because someone very small left a very big footprint on each of our hearts. I want you to look around for a moment and notice the people gathered here in this way through the gift of technology tonight—though the details of our stories may be different, you are not alone in your grief. Whether you’ve walked through any of this yourself, or you’ve held the hand of someone who has, you are surrounded by people who have stood where you stand. By people who know the joy of knowing someone so small, but so special. People who know the joy and sorrow of experiencing a love that is stronger than death.
And while there is such encouragement in being part of a community like this––a community of people who “get it” and who can walk alongside you as you grieve and celebrate your baby’s life––as believers in Christ we have something even greater than this. There is an even greater hope we can cling to when our hearts feel broken and weary.
The theme for Hope Mommies upcoming tenth anniversary celebration is “Blessed Hope” and I’ve been thinking about this phrase a lot this month. If we believe in Jesus, we have what the apostle Paul refers to in Titus 2 as a “blessed hope” as we await the day when Jesus returns and wipes every tear from our weary eyes. And while this sounds so beautiful, I know what it feels like to look at my our lives and not feel the least bit “blessed” nor “hopeful”. When we receive devastating news from our doctor. When there is no heartbeat. When we cradle our child in our arms for the last time on this earth. When we say goodbye. When we plan a funeral. In those moments, “blessed hope” may seem like it couldn’t be any further from our reality.
And while it understandable doesn’t “feel” true in so many moments, we do have this blessed hope. And tonight I want to take a closer look at what this really means and encourage each of us, myself included...or maybe even especially, to keep our eyes fixed on this blessed hope as we miss our precious babies.
Titus 2:11-14 says, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
In the first part of this passage, Paul encourages us to live in a way that glorifies God as we wait for our “blessed hope”. In the second part of the passage, he explains exactly what this blessed hope is –– the appearing of the glory of God and the return of our Savior Jesus Christ, who already made a way for us so that we could have hope. Jesus, who as the passage says, came to redeem us from our sin and to adopt us as sons and daughters. Jesus’ return and our redemption in Him is our greatest and most blessed hope.
So what does it truly mean to be “blessed”? We hear this word a lot and see it plastered all over our social media feeds––it’s printed on mugs and t-shirts, used in email signatures, and frequently used when things are going really well for someone––maybe they just got a promotion at work or bought a new house or brought home a new baby and they say, “We’re just so blessed.”
I looked at the dictionary and the literal definition of “blessed” is to be “made holy” or “consecrated”. This surprised me that even by the world’s definitions, blessings have a much broader scope than an easy life. I would love to say that my spiritual growth has been propelled by seasons of ease, but the opposite often seems to be true. It has been in the depths of suffering that I have been transformed the most and have relied on Jesus with the most desperation. And when I consider this, I suppose you could say that many of us have been incredibly blessed in our suffering––even if we never would have chosen it for ourselves. And even as Jesus weeps with us. Lamenting over death and the brokenness of this world is a good thing––an appropriate response to living in a world tainted by sin and grief. It is good that we long for something more––that we know that this world is not our own and that things are not as they were created to be, or how they will be in the end when Jesus returns to set all things right. We are blessed as we grieve and as we cling to our blessed hope.
So what is hope? This is another word we hear a lot and most of the time it’s used to refer to something that is wished for. “I hope you like it” when giving a gift or “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow” or “I hope to visit this family member next summer”. But biblical hope is something so much deeper than simply wishing for something. Biblical hope is confident. It is faith that God will fulfill everything He has promised and that He is faithful. God never promised that we wouldn’t suffer. Psalm 34:19 says, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” The idea is incredibly unpopular and uncomfortable, but Jesus promised us we would struggle (John 16:33). But we were also promised that God would never leave us or forsake us through any of it. We have been promised the opportunity to experience salvation, deliverance, and an eternity with Jesus. We have been promised something much better than an easy life.
I want to read at a few verses that talk about hope...
Hebrews 6:19-20 says, ““We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Jesus has gone before us to make a way for us to be right before Him and the Father, and that brings us HOPE.
Titus 3:7 says “so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” This eternal life with Jesus is our ultimate hope. And we can hope- not wish, but know, that our babies are with Him and that we will see them again one day.
Romans 5:3-5 says, “not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” We are blessed in our suffering, because of Jesus. Our suffering can produce endurance, and endurance character, and character produces hope in us as we grieve.
Because of the saving work of Jesus Christ, we do not grieve as the rest of the world––we are blessed and we have an unshakable hope. But I assure you, this does not mean we do not grieve. It does not mean that we don’t cry. That we don’t have questions. That we don’t feel sad. It doesn’t mean that death is “good” ––in fact, Jesus would call death “bad” too. It doesn’t cancel out our grief, but it gives us this incredible life preserver to hold onto as the waves of grief threaten to pull us under. Our grief, though still filled with lament and tears, looks wildly different than the world, but it is still grief...and that’s OK.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 says:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
This is such a beautiful promise for those who are in Christ. We have so much to look forward to. We do not grieve as those who are hopeless. Again, yes... we do grieve..we cry, we lament, and our hearts are so very heavy. But as our hearts ache, we know all that feels hopeless is not without hope. We know this incredible pain is not the end. We know good is coming, and this often causes us to wrestle as we await the day when every tear is wiped from our eyes.
If you grieve, you are in good company. The Bible is filled with examples of men and women who cried out to God in lament. The book of Psalms is filled with questions like “How long, O Lord?” and “Why have you forgotten me?” Jesus openly wept when His friend Lazarus died, despite knowing he would soon rise again (John 11:35). He recognized the horror of death, even temporary death for those who are in Christ. Jesus retreated to be alone when He heard about the death of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:13). Jesus doesn’t only tell us it’s okay to grieve. He goes even further to call those who mourn “blessed” (Matthew 5:4). Jesus was betrayed by one of His own disciples and was turned over to be killed in exchange for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 26). He was despised and rejected. He suffered an excruciating death. He felt God turn His face away as He hung on the cross. Jesus knows any pain we can imagine.
On the night before He would be crucified, Jesus’ soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38). Jesus––God in the flesh––knew what the outcome would be. He knew of the incredible gift of salvation in Christ. He knew of eternity with the Father, free from pain, sorrow or tears. But despite this knowledge, He knew how horrific death is. He sweat droplets of blood as He pleaded with the Father for another way to bring salvation to His children. Yet as He lamented and grieved, He surrendered to God. “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Like Jesus, we can grieve in a way that holds tightly to hope and glorifies God in the process...and in a way that isn’t fake or tries to put on a mask and just “be OK”, but in an authentic way that aches while gazing at heaven with anticipation. We have permission to grieve. We have permission to wail, to doubt, and to question. God can handle all of our questions and our hurts. We can bring all of that to Him, knowing “he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help” (Psalm 22:24).
Jesus grieves with us. Jesus knew just how awful death is, which is why He came to save us from it.
I really began to consider this truth for the first time after we buried our firstborn son Ethan, who died as an infant. It was a truth I considered again and again as we walked through the grief of our miscarriages. It wasn’t until I came face to face with the devastation of death that I began to really understand the gospel. I had heard it so many times, but I really had not considered this...
I grew up in the church and I was pretty familiar with the Bible. God created a perfect world and death and pain entered the world because of man’s disobedience. Because God is perfect, He could no longer look upon man in his wretchedness. Payment was necessary to make things right. I knew this. I understood the need for a sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world. I understood God sent His son Jesus—fully God yet fully man—to come to earth and to die a horrible death in our place. I understood Jesus took all of our sin on the cross and covered us so we could have a relationship with God. I understood Jesus rose from the dead, ascended to Heaven, and is coming back to earth one day to make all things right. I had heard it all hundreds of times and could quote the scriptures... and I believed them to be true. But there was something I had never really considered before. It wasn’t until I was left to sort through the aftermath of Ethan’s death that the weight of the gospel began to flood through my heart. And this truth hit me, in the best way––Jesus came to be the death of death, and to destroy it forever.
The death of death. The death of this horrible thing that took our babies lives. The death of this horrible thing that leaves your heart feeling shattered. The death of this horrible thing that keeps you awake at night or makes it hard to get out of bed. Jesus came to be the death of death. He has already conquered death, but will one day come back to completely destroy it.
And this, my friends...this promise...this is the blessed hope for our babies and that we can have too. We have hope that we will see our babies again one day. We have the blessed hope of Christ’s return. Of the death of death. Of new bodies, free from sickness and from sin. This is the hope we cling to with teary eyes.
As we close tonight, I want to leave you with Romans 8:18 in which Paul says, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” The sufferings of this present time may feel crushing...and it blows my mind to know that it can’t compare to the blessed hope we have.