When Your World Stops Moving

It’s been a lifetime ago since my Daddy went to Heaven. 18 years to be exact, which is the age I was when he was given the shocking diagnosis of Stage 4 Osteosarcoma.

The news came during the final exam week of my Freshman year of college. My bare knees hit the pavement as I heard my Daddy deliver the heartbreaking news that made my family’s world stop spinning that day. I went back to my dorm doe-eyed, factually delivering the news to my roommates, crumbling again to the ground— this time onto the nubby brown carpet.

Those moments where my knees hit the ground might as well have been my own personal ground zero.

I was devastated, heartbroken, and utterly weak. I had no answers, just questions. My dad was given six months to live and six months and two days later, he was in Heaven.

My world came to a screeching halt, but the rest of the world was still moving.

Throughout my dad’s sickness, I drove across the state line more times than I can count, from Virginia to North Carolina and back. I wanted to be with my Daddy by his bedside, but I also was trying to do my best in college. There was no instruction manual on how to be out of state in college while your parent was dying 4.5 hours away. I never knew how to make plans with my friends or how to prepare for a test.

Looking back, though, I see that season was where most of the deepest friendships of my life began and where I saw the Lord show Himself strong to me in the first point of impact in my adult life. I had been a Christian since I was a young child, but my faith had never been tested as much as it was during that heartbreak of losing my dad.

Naively, for years, I secretly thought to myself that it was a relief that I’d had the biggest heartbreak of my life so young. I still wished it hadn’t happened. However, in my mind, I could just live my life and process through the pain of that, because look at that life checkmark… I probably wouldn’t experience any more huge heartbreak like that for decades to come.

But then, early in my marriage, my husband lost his job and we went through a season of no full-time employment for 2.5 years. And then, we experienced years of infertility followed by miscarriage. And right when we finally got pregnant with our miracle baby, days later a close family member’s secret life was shockingly exposed and a few months later my Mimi died as I held her hand, compounding our joy with deep, deep sorrow. Then there was a crisis in our community we were deeply involved in helping. Then Covid hit. 

A few years ago, I told my husband about that naive checkmark I’d been living with as I processed all those heartbreaking situations from my life and he looked at me with compassion in his eyes saying, “When you lost your dad, it wasn’t your only heartbreak, it was just your first heartbreak.” My first heartbreak. He was right and as I reflected on that, I realized that what I experienced in that first heartbreak actually had a tremendous role in equipping me and strengthening me for all my other heartbreaks.

The same Jesus who showed me His strength during my first great heartbreak has shown it to me in my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and all of my small and great heartbreaks alike.

He really does “work all things together for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” (Romans 8:28)  It’s actually true that His grace is sufficient and His strength is made perfect in weakness like 2 Corinthians 12:9 says. He does make a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)  And He really does make all things new. ( Revelation 21:5) I know this, because I’ve seen it. In my heartbreak, I’ve experienced the strength of Jesus by living out the promises of His Word and walking with His presence in my life. He is, after all, Immanuel— God with us.

He’s with us in our strong moments, but oh how much more obvious is it when we see Him with us in our weak moments.

The day I came home for the summer from college the week after my dad’s diagnosis, I remember stealing away and praying, “God, give us extra measures of your grace.” That’s probably been the prayer I’ve prayed most other than, “Jesus, help.”

In those breath prayers, God has breathed His strength right back into me.

He hasn’t left me in my heartbreak. His purpose in coming to earth, remember, was to “bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives, and release from darkness for the prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1) I’ve seen Him bind up my broken heart, I’ve seen Him free me from the captivity of sin and sorrow, and His light has pierced the darkness of the broken world of my life. What He’s done for me, He can do for you.

You will never get over your heartbreak. I know I haven’t. But Jesus will get you through it. Your heart may be broken, but the strong arms of Jesus will bind it together in His time.

When your world stops moving because of heartbreak, remember that the strong God who loves you hasn’t.

Emily P. Meyer is a writer, based out of Virginia, where she lives happily with her husband, miracle baby son, and their sweet dog. She writes about finding hope in the unexpected picture of you at www.emilypmeyer.com and also for various other ministries.  

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