The pain of separation and divorce can be overwhelming for those left behind to pick up the pieces of a broken family. Unfortunately, my children were at a young age when their father left our home, and they had to grapple with feelings of rejection and abandonment.
The first few weeks were brutal. Comforting my children was exhausting and added to my own heartbreak. I held my 3-year-old daughter, Emelia, and 2-year-old son, Elijah, for hours while they cried.
Elijah was deeply saddened by his father's absence, but he was unable to express his feelings verbally. So in the middle of the night, he would wake up screaming. Other times, Elijah wandered around my bedroom crying, not knowing what to do with himself, only to finally collapse exhausted on the floor. Minutes later, he'd despairingly rise to begin the pattern again.
Sometimes I'd hold him in a big bear hug. Other times I would sit on the floor and rock him with tears pouring down my face. "Mama's here," I'd say. "I've got you. I love you. Stop crying, baby. Elijah, please stop. You're OK. You're safe. Mama's here."
To quiet him, I began singing to my son. "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so." Finally, I cried out to the Lord, begging him to comfort Elijah's soul with the peace only Jesus can give.
Proverbs 31:8 tells us, "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves." So I interceded for my broken-hearted children and asked the Lord to protect them from the sins of their father.
Elijah's sobbing went on for many nights. I continued to hold him, rock him, sing hymns and pray until he fell asleep. His anguish began to diminish. Finally, he slept soundly through the night.
I learned some valuable lessons about God through that difficult time. I realized that God is:
My Comforter. Early in Elijah's painful journey, I neglected to ask Jesus for support. I got so caught up in trying to figure out what was wrong and to fix things in my own strength that I picked up a much bigger load than I was meant to carry.
Christ said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
God cares deeply and shares in my sorrows. God sees my trouble and knows about the anguish of my soul (Psalm 31:7). Just as I shared the pain for my boy's broken heart, my heavenly Father felt the pain of mine. I need to remember to crawl into my Daddy's lap when I feel helplessly alone. He yearns to love and comfort me in the midst of my suffering.
My Intercessor. I carry a vivid picture in my mind of God watching me trying to help my little boy without asking Him for strength and guidance. Romans 8:26-27 says, "The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."
My All in All. When I called on Jesus, He partnered with me in caring for Elijah. I could not have continued to do it without Him. I learned that God is not only my Father, but He is also my Husband and the Father to my children. He showed me I was not a single mother at all; I was not alone. The Lord was walking every step with me through the deep valleys and lonely places.
Children suffer in myriad ways when a mother or father is missing from the home. They are suddenly and wrongfully deprived of the physical affection and emotional security essential to their development. Single moms and dads need to be aware of the burdens children carry as a result of the loss or neglect of a parent.
If we are too caught up in our own loneliness and hurts, we fail to see their pain. The consequences can be grave if we do not help our children give their burdens over to the Lord. So we must do the following:
Meet their needs. We need to abide in Christ daily so He can love and care for them through us. When we care for our children, we also minister to the heart of God.
Teach them. We need to show and teach our children how to trust God and pray so they too may lay their burdens at the feet of Jesus, who said, "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you" (John 14:18).
During this time, I taught my children about God's special promise, and it was a tremendous comfort to them. They know He is their Daddy who listens and is always available to talk.
Let God work. He will faithfully heal our wounds and renew our hope if we trust Him to meet our deepest needs. With Him, brokenness turns to blessing. And the hurts of a family are healed through Jesus Christ.