I was asked to write a bit about loss and hope for series they are doing at my church. I was told it was “anonymous.” That made me laugh. I mean I’m sure there are people who don’t know me who also don’t know my name, but probably not very many. I am okay with that. I really appreciate that they make the series anonymous, because people should have the option of sharing their story without sharing their name. I could write a whole post about my reasons for sharing so publicly, but mostly, it is just my personality. It is my normal. I missed a few posting days this week, because I was working on this piece. It’s easier to write on the blog, because I can just share the snippet that is on my mind and I have years of background posts to put things in context. It was much harder picking a small bit that I have learned in the last year, and hopefully sharing it as a complete thought to an audience that didn’t necessarily know my background.
Here is what I (or some anonymous person) wrote.
As I stood by my husband’s body, moments before they lowered him into the ground, I was hit with a wave of peace and joy that was greater than any I had ever experienced. At that moment I remember thinking, if that was the peace and joy my husband now felt now with God, all the pain would be nothing in comparison.
Three days after the three-year anniversary of our first date, my husband was shot and killed by a stranger while sitting at a red light. The grief still comes in waves so strong it cuts like a knife. Our precious daughter is growing up without the father who let her nap on his chest every single day and I am now an exhausted single mother who misses the man she loved so much that at times she doesn’t even want to continue to breathe.
This world is broken. Evil is rampant. Darkness is everywhere. Yet still, I have hope.
I have hope because I know a God who writes good stories.
While my loss was very sudden, in many ways too numerous to record here God prepared me for my husband’s death. The preparation began five months before he died, when I felt God saying it would be a year of loss and stripping away, and I would need to respond by turning my eyes on Jesus. Two days before he died, I felt God clearly said he would renew me very much in the sense of being renewed over a long period of time. Right before he died I downloaded an audio version of the Gospel of John that I listened to continuously, on repeat, for weeks after he died. It formed the foundation of the restoration of my hope.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). God prepared me for the unthinkable so that when it happened, after my husband was shot and killed as I slept with my daughter, I would know he was still in control and not lose hope.
God writes long stories. This part of my story is very painful, but this is not the end of my story. I trust my God who writes good stories.
God could have prevented this evil. God could have kept my husband alive in any number of ways. He could have hurried the red light, made the gun jam, or altered the trajectory of the bullet. Instead, God overcame this evil with good. The moment my husband was killed, God delivered his spirit from death. Later in this story, God will overcome that evil by raising my husband’s body from the dead.
I have hope that the goodness of God is so great, it outshines the pain and suffering caused by evil. I had a glimpse of that peace and joy the day my husband died.
Evil is like a fire. If you have a little fire, you can put it out with a cup of water. If you have a forest fire, you need torrential rain.
A little good will not overcome the evil that took my husband away at age 34, the husband I’d searched for my whole life, the husband that was a light and a joy to so many, the husband that was the hands and feet of Jesus teaching me I was loved. Only a great and magnificent good, a peace and joy that are beyond all understanding, will redeem this story and make it a good story. That is the good that gives me hope.
God knows how destructive and painful evil is. God expects us to grieve and mourn in this world. We grieve with hope, but we still grieve.
“Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. (John 16:20-21) We don’t “forget” the pain of childbirth completely. It just becomes insignificant when weighed against our love for our child. We won’t forget the pain we experience in this present world, but somehow the goodness of what is to come will make it insignificant.
I believe in a good God who writes very long, very good stories. The good that will make this pain insignificant involves resurrection and triumph of life over death.
I’m nowhere near the end of this story. The pain still chokes me, and single parenting is hard. I do not know how our story ends, but I know the goodness of God who writes the story.