One year ago today was a good day.
My husband and I were joyfully serving a church we love. We were within 3 months of adding a third child to our family via adoption. We had rich, deep relationships we believed would last a lifetime. Our kids were thriving in an environment they greatly enjoyed.
We spent Sunday School one year ago today talking to a group of teens about how we can glorify God in our trials. Little did we know the hours of preparation and discussion were actually for us.
The next evening, on Monday night–to our total surprise–we lost everything listed above.
Why it happened and why it happened the way it did are no longer answers I need. That isn’t the point of this post. I share these things to tell you this:
Over the past year, I have struggled with the deepest, darkest trial of my adult life.
I can understand how–to anyone who has experienced far bigger griefs–my story might seem like the knock-off version of a real trial. Certainly people I know and love have endured harder, more permanent loss. But–as I have learned over the past year–many people have been wrecked by far less than life’s worst case scenario.
And I certainly became a candidate for the wreckage yard.
In my case, the trial touched every aspect of my life–spiritual, physical, emotional, mental–so that I identified with Charles Spurgeon who wrote–
There comes a time in most of our lives in which we no longer have the strength to lift ourselves out or to pretend ourselves strong. Sometimes our minds want to break because life stomped on us and God didn’t stop it.
As a rule, when reading a book, I refuse to flip to the last chapter first. (And, frankly, I realize the last chapter of the story I’m telling you now has yet to be written.) But without lingering in the messy middle of the past year, here’s an update. Five months ago, God graciously moved our family to a new state with precious brothers and sisters who have welcomed us wholeheartedly. We have been transparent with them–and they with us–and God is doing a good thing.
And because perfect pots prohibit the glory of God from shining, I pray daily that the deep, recently formed cracks in my heart and life will eventually become beacons of light for the glory of God.
So why write about the past year?
I understand the question.
Surely there are more pleasant topics–ones that wouldn’t require me to lay my most personal recent hurt on the table for public consumption and potential criticism. To be clear: I have no axe to grind, no dirty laundry to air. Not at all. What I desire to write now is less about what happened to me than it is about what happened within me as a result. The last year, after all, could be filed under a tab with 6 words: But for the grace of God.
In his classic work, The Cross of Christ, John Stott wrote–
“The fact of suffering undoubtedly constitutes the single greatest challenge to the Christian faith, and has been in every generation.”
During the past year I have met more people with hurting hearts than I can recall meeting in previous years combined, and I have come to better understand how each of us carries burdens of which the world is unaware. And I am now ready to write about the past year because I know what it is to have my faith challenged.
And, more importantly, I know what it is to be held by God.
The anniversary I never planned to have
One year ago tomorrow I entered a fog that has only recently begun to lift. But tomorrow I’ll not dwell on that.
Instead, I’m going to celebrate that one year ago tomorrow God began a necessary (though initially unwelcome) process of change in me. I’m going to celebrate that–in spite of my weaknesses–He has been faithful beyond measure, and that He makes all things new.
I identify with David who wrote–
“I had fainted unless I believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).
Tomorrow I will celebrate the goodness of God Who graciously upheld this faint-hearted girl and rooted her in the land of the living. (And planted her amongst a group of kind-hearted folks in Northern Michigan.)
And on Thursday I’ll be back to share about the day an entourage of police showed up and why I believe grief is a threat to faith.
Whatever you are facing today, believe with me that the Good Shepherd will never lead us down the wrong path.
In pursuit of joy–