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A Sweet and Bitter Providence, Resting in God’s Sovereignty

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Today, I opened my journal to its first entry dated April 3, 2017. It read, “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8) Please help me to trust you when I don’t see or understand your plans.”

I had no way of knowing or even anticipating the loss of Justin. Yet, the Lord in his kindness was preparing my heart to trust him in such a time as this. For several years, I have been quite taken that the Lord reigns sovereign over all. I have said many times over that I find great safety in his sovereignty.

In those early days and weeks of grief, I was hurt and angry that the Lord didn’t answer my prayer the way I wanted him to. You see, I had a horrible feeling all day and into the night about Justin’s plans for the evening. I talked to Justin that afternoon and asked him to please be safe. I prayed and asked the Lord to please keep him safe. As I lay in wait for him to get home that night, I continued to pray. It was while trying to calm myself in the wee hours of the morning by reciting Scripture, I knew in my heart that Justin was not the kind of safe that I had asked for. My fears were confirmed by the ringing of our doorbell early the next morning.

I walked about numbly while a whirlwind of activity took place around me. I cried out to the Lord in my distress. I asked him to help me get to each next minute as I felt like I was being swallowed up by the most intense pain that I have ever felt. And now still, my most consistent prayer; Oh please, Lord, please, be near.

After the memorial service, we made a quick trip to California as I deeply desired to walk along the oceanside; seeing the vastness of the ocean has always reminded me of how big God is and how small I am. I could feel in my heart that I was harboring resentment towards the Lord. As I walked up and down the shore, I poured my heart out to the Lord. Finally, I stopped at a quiet spot and gazed at the enormity of the sea. It was there that the Lord reminded me of his conversation with Job. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?…” I then remembered releasing Justin to the Lord when he was just a newborn baby and very sick. All throughout his life we have declared that he belonged to the Lord. And he did, he was not mine, he was the Lord’s. The Lord gently and kindly put me in my rightful place as a good Father does. He is the Potter, I am the clay.

His sovereign reign is a sweet and bitter providence even when I don’t understand his plan. The Lord continues to sustain our little family every day. He is indeed close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. He can be trusted for He is faithful. A song that has blessed me 100 times over is A Sweet and Bitter Providence. I have shared the link below.

Continuing to trust in His care and grace,

Missy

A Sweet and Bitter Providence

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Six Months Later

Life can change in the blink of an eye. One minute I was telling Justin to be careful and that I loved him. The next minute (or hours later) we were being awakened by the sheriff’s office telling us something no parent ever dreams of hearing, our dear Justin was gone. As anyone can imagine, there was wailing, weeping, and pure disbelief.

In those early days, we walked about in a fog. Dear family and precious friends began pouring in from all over the country to be with us in our great time of need. We were surrounded by loved ones, did they ever love us well! Our house was cleaned, meals prepared, our children were doted on, and laundry was completed (no small miracle). Mostly, we just cried and they patiently listened and held us tight.

We, with the help of a great army of laborers, planned a memorial service. We honored our dear Justin’s young 20-year-old life. The Lord called Justin to salvation at a young age. We are overwhelmed with joy that he loved the Lord with much enthusiasm and an authentic wonder. He was one to talk about heaven often and how he longed to be there with the Lord. A sweet memory to always be cherished is the night of the memorial. A great number of us sat together in our living room singing hymns and songs of worship to our mighty and faithful God. Justin would have loved it. I have found one anecdote for my heart in the deep seas of grief is to sing praises to our King. It puts me in my rightful place and reminds me of my hope.

Just days later, we buried our precious son with guttural moans, each of us longing to join him. Eventually, we returned to our home and life as it once was no longer existed.

Everday is one where we learn to live without his presence, his loud music, and his contagious laugh. Each of us misses him so and try and imagine what it must be like for him in heaven!

Forever hoping in our faithful God,

Missy