Embracing God’s Faithfulness In Loss
From my earliest memories, I have known that God is faithful. I’ve sung hymns about it, I’ve taught my kids about it and I’ve memorized verses about it.
It’s one thing to study God’s faithfulness but another thing altogether to have to count on it for your next step, your next breath.
A few years ago, our family was busy with a typical summer. My husband Dan, after several frustrating years, was in the job of his dreams. I homeschooled our 7 children—five boys and two girls who ranged from four years old to our 19-year-old college freshman. And though life had its bumps and challenges with parenting, finances and marriage, it was full and good. It wasn’t perfect, but it was the life I wanted.
Until one night, when I went to bed happily married to my high school sweetheart and woke up a widow and single mom.
Somewhere in the dark early morning hours, I heard Dan breathing funny. Thinking it was a bad dream, I reached over and nudged him. “It’s okay, Hon. It’s just a nightmare.”
But his continued breathing woke me completely. Seeing something was critically wrong, I called 9-1-1, started CPR and then prayed with my kids after they watched paramedics rush their dad to the ER.
Arriving at the ER, I could sense it didn’t look good. I wanted to hear the rushing of intense patient care, but it was pin drop quiet. The ER doctor soon came out and gently told me they had tried everything but had been unable to revive Dan.
I went back to see him one last time. To kiss him and memorize every feature of the face I had loved. I slipped off his wedding band and headed to my car, a mixture of throbbing shock and raw pain.
In that heart-wrenching pain, I saw more clearly than ever what God does in marriage. “They shall become one flesh” God’s word tells us. We were one flesh alright and it felt like I had been ripped clean through leaving my raw, wounded flesh exposed. Our hopes, dreams, arguments, make-ups, children, struggles, hurts and love had stitched us into one. Now tomorrow’s plans, next week’s list, our little family life with seven children we were raising was completely shattered and would never be again.
What do you do when life as you know it collapses? I never asked God why but I sure asked what now? What about my littlest girl who cried every day for over a year that she missed her daddy? What about our 6-year-old son who played just like his neighborhood friends by day but cried himself to sleep each night? How was I going to raise three teen boys who needed their six-foot dad to help them navigate to manhood? How in the world was God going to fix eight broken hearts?
In the hard months that followed, I saw God’s faithfulness like never before.
In my utter heartbreak, I saw God’s unequivocal strength.
And every single day, God lifted my head. His word encouraged me and gave me hope. I wrote our name by verses, cried through Psalms and let God’s Word remind me that though decision overwhelm, fear for the future and healing seemed impossible, this was easy for God.
Every morning, I went off by myself for time in the Word. I needed scripture more than I needed food. Day after day, I’d open my journal and write in bold and all-caps: “THIS IS TOO HARD, LORD. I CANNOT DO THIS.”
It’s now been 10 years since Dan went home to heaven and God has faithfully and tenderly taken care of us.
While I had sung about God’s faithfulness, now I can tell of it. While I had read of God’s faithfulness, my kids and I have seen it.
I could tell story after story of God’s provision, encouragement and wisdom to me as a single mom. I could tell you how God has given clear guidance when I’ve cried out to Him. I could tell you amazing stories that left us in jaw-dropping wonder. And I could tell you how God has personally met me in needs only He and I knew.
Part of grief has been the battle to let go of the life I wanted. That life shattered and will never be again. But through my heartbreak, I’ve seen God strong in ways I’d never give back. I pray my children can say the same.
Because though we’ve walked through deep loss, we’ve been shaped more by the faithfulness of God through it.
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
Lisa Appelo is an author and speaker inspiring women to cultivate faith in life’s storms. After becoming a sudden widow and single mom to 7, she found God can reshape what’s shattered. This article is excerpted from her new book Life Can Be Good Again: Putting Your World Back Together After It All Falls Apart.
A former litigating attorney, Lisa is passionate about rich Bible teaching. She launched a local widows ministry in Jacksonville, Florida and founded a team of writers at hopeingrief.com. Lisa’s days are filled with parenting, ministry, speaking and long walks to justify lots of dark chocolate. Connect with Lisa at LisaAppelo.com and on IG @LisaAppelo.
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