I am doing a series on God’s will for us and I had a friend share her story with me about having joy in the midst of terrible tragedy. She lost her little brother unexpectedly last fall and then almost exactly one year later suddenly lost her mother and grandparents in one car crash. I shared some of her inspiring words in that post but I wanted to share all that she wrote me here. If you are going through a difficult time or loss in your life, her words will encourage and uplift you.
My dear friend Deonna has asked me to give my insights into finding joy through the journey of grief and loss. Some of you are probably wondering, how do you survive such unbearable tragedy and keep living life? That’s a really good question. I’ll say this first: Through God alone.
Here I am, one month later, giving God the glory for everything that’s happened. It would take many pages of words to explain all the things God has used for good through our loss, but trust me, the blessings have been abundant and unbelievable. Regardless of my heartache and despair, my mourning and the intensity of not knowing how I would cope. Somehow, God reached down and carried me through on the wings of prayers. He sent friends, family, community, memorized verses of encouragement, and support from places I never could have expected. He knew what we needed before we did, and he provided for all of those needs in miraculous ways. Whenever we tried to take control and manage a situation, it fell apart. Only when we stepped back, got out of the way, and let Him be in charge of the next ten minutes, the next ten hours, the next ten days, could we find ourselves moving forward one inch at a time.
Several verses came to mind over the course of the weeks following my Mom’s and Grandparent’s joint memorial service. My Mom taught me all three of these special verses, and helped me hide them away in my heart for such a time as this. So if you’re struggling with whether or not those memory verses you spout at your kids over and over and over ever take root, have heart, they do, and they slip into your mind when you most need them later in life.
My all time favorite verse, and one that’s carried me through has been Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. I’ve never had a time in my life before when I more dearly needed supernatural strength, the ability to trust in the Lord, and the will to allow him to help me. All the while, I found myself rejoicing in the fact my family members were spending eternity with Jesus even as we wept for their parting.
I also recalled 2 Timothy 1:7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I’ve never known fear and doubt like I knew it the day I got that phone call, while waiting to find out if my Dad would be okay, if my other family members were alive. Not knowing is truly the worst fear imaginable. Even when the worst is the truth, it seems easier to know the final outcome than to wait suspended in fear. I kept this verse close to my heart that afternoon as I waited to hear the unbearable news that changed my life forever.
And the one that resonated most from the moment I heard about the accident until after the graveside and memorial services, was Phillipians 4: 6& 7 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
I’ve never known peace that passes understanding until this month. I cannot explain the peace I felt as I plodded along hour by hour, not knowing how I was moving one foot in front of the other, much less making funeral arrangements, caring for my children, and comforting the hundreds of family members and friends that kept flooding in, and as each cried and tried to comfort me it served to continually remind me that the situation was real all over again, adding to my burdened heart. Then the peace would come. That’s why it passes understanding–it’s supernatural and inexplicable, and it’s there when you most need it to be there, in your hour of desperation. So have hope, and accept peace. Life is in the details. Open your eyes and your heart to the details God is placing in your path, and you will find that peace. And in peace you can find joy to continue living your own earthly journey even when the earthly journeys of those you love have come to an end. Always remember, their eternal journey has just begun, and they are living their true happily ever after. They wouldn’t come back for all the money in the world, and they wouldn’t want you to quit living your life and moving forward with joy in your heart, because they have now have unending joy. So rejoice through the sorrow, for asPsalm 30:5 b promises . . . weeping may endure through the night, but joy comes in the morning.