Trusting God in Suffering
It was a few weeks after the accident and our pastor came to our home to spend some time with us. My mind was grappling for answers and our lives were in a whirlwind of chaos. Luke sat with Tim and I for several hours as we shared our hurt, pain, and confusion. I remember pulling out my Bible and opening to one of my beloved passages of Scripture from Psalm 91:14-16:
Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When He calls to me I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.
In tears by this point, I shared that I felt like maybe God was angry with us and wondered if losing Justin was a punishment of some kind. Why didn’t he keep Justin safe, why didn’t he give Justin long life like Psalm 91 talks about? Did we, his parents, do something wrong? The inner turmoil that I felt was nearly unbearable because every single criticism I ever received as a mother was playing on repeat in my mind. My fears and insecurities were raising their ugly heads shouting at me and telling me that I failed Justin because I didn’t keep him safe. I remember Luke looking me in the eyes and confidently telling me that these thoughts were lies from the evil one. He said that the actual word Satan means accuser and that he was “sataning-accusing” me. He went on to remind Tim and I of the character of God and the beautiful Gospel of Jesus Christ. Oh, how we needed that fresh infusion of truth.
We are now 10 months without our dear Justin. The last two months have been laced with much heartache and trial. There have been several dark days filled with grief added with financial pressures and the everyday stresses of raising a family. Once again, the accuser whispered his lies; “God’s forgotten about you, He’s angry with you, etc.”. On one of those days, not too long ago, I hid in the bathroom for a moment and in tears asked the Lord to please bring us relief because it was just too much to endure. Later that morning, he met me with his Word as I was reading through Mark 1:9-13;
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
I read it once and then I read it again; Jesus was being baptized, the heavens are suddenly torn open, and God the Father is proclaiming, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”. Immediately the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness and for forty days he was tempted by Satan. Do you see it? He was not in the wilderness because he had done anything wrong, the Father was well pleased with him. It was His good plan all along, what a paradox!
And just like that, in a matter of a few moments, my heavy heart was lifted; my despair was replaced with hope. I practically ran into Tim’s office and showed him the passage in Mark 1. I confessed that I had been listening to the lies from the pit of hell and he rejoiced with me as I told him how wrong I had been for entertaining such thoughts. As I write, I am reminded how faithful God is and how much I love his Word, what treasure we find there! I love how it is described in Hebrews 4:12, “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.“
Through the Word, the Lord in His kindness, revealed the contents of my own heart and showed me my error. I must not lean on my own understanding or allow my emotions to navigate through grief; I must look to my God and his Word. In the early days after we lost Justin, my emotions were raw and although the lies were not matching up with my theology, they nearly over powered me. While in the throes of trials and suffering, it is tempting to live in the emotion, but it is imperative that we press into Jesus and cling to the Gospel, for there we find unwavering hope. We must search the Scripture to know the character of God in order to combat the lies whispered to us by the enemy of our souls.
Every day, I am learning to trust the Lord in new ways. Our external circumstances remain the same, but my hope is anchored in the Lord. There is no peace like the peace that God provides.
Forever held in His grace,