I am still confident in this

My father died at the age of 49, when I was only 21. At the time, my mom had all 7 of my younger siblings still at home and my ‘baby’ sister was only 6. Dad’s death was a complete shock. He was working on a car. The car fell on him, and he died.

Though memories of those early days of grieving are hazy, I know there was plenty of anger mixed in with the sadness. How could God have allowed that jack to slip? It made me look at some of the hymns we sang in church with a jaundiced eye. Words that used to seem comforting felt almost mocking to me for awhile.

To get back to a point of peace, I eventually had accept that God is sovereign, that He is God and I am not. I chose to trust that He had allowed the death of my father for a reason beyond my understanding. For my own peace and happiness, the best thing for me to do was to let go of that anger, and just trust.

Maybe someday I will know why my dad died. Maybe I won’t. Certainly my family was greatly blessed at many points since my dad died. Are those blessing great enough to ‘cancel out’ the sadness we felt at the loss of our father? I don’t know about that. But I know that we all have seen the loving works of God in our lives since then. We were wounded. But we were not deserted.

I have found that as I parent these precious new girls of mine, who had the great sadness of watching their Ethiopian mother die, I am again reading the hymns in church with little twinges of pain. I can imagine how they must be questioning the goodness of God. This morning I pointed to a verse in John 15 promising that God will answer our prayers, and reminded the girls that we need to keep praying that their friend Tsion will find a family.

“OK,” said my 12 year old, “we pray my mom will come back too.” Her smile was rueful. She knew that prayer would not be answered in the way that she wished. And so I am sure it gave her less confidence to pray for her friend. And yet we still prayed.

I want so much for my children (all of them!) to have faith in the goodness of God, to believe that He really does have a plan for their lives, to have a hope that their future will be bright. And yet that past sadness casts a long shadow.

I will do my best to help them have hope for the future. I will point to God’s work in our lives every chance I have. But in the end I guess it comes back to faith again. I need to have faith that God will work to heal their hearts. To have faith that He will give them peace and joy and hope for the future.

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13-14

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  1. Amen. I am still confident right beside you 🙂

  2. My close friend watched her father die when she was a child. Her balloon had floated to the ceiling of a warehouse where he worked, so he got out a ladder and climbed to the top. He reached for the balloon. He fell off the ladder and he died. She was the only person around.

    Melissa, my friend, was 8 when it happened. Her older sister was 10. Somehow, the two of them are the most faithful people I know. I remember asking them how once and my friend said that one day, their aunt brought them to church and the pastor was teaching the congregation about the events of Exodus.

    Apparently, the pastor told a brief version of the events from the Bible’s perspective:
    1. Moses gets sent down the river and is adopted.
    2. Moses grows up and runs away.
    3. G-d appears to Moses.
    4. Moses, with the aid of Aaron, speaks to Pharoah.
    5. G-d uses Moses to facilitate the plagues of Egypt.
    6. The Hebrews are saved from the tenth plague.
    7. Pharoah releases the Hebrews and Moses leads them out of the land of Egypt.
    8. G-d parts the Reed Sea for Moses.
    9. The Hebrews are pursued by the Egyptian soldiers.
    10. G-d drowns the soldiers.
    11. There is a helluva lot of wandering and miracles that occur before Moses kicks off and the Hebrews enter the Promised Land. Some of these miracles include Moses striking (as opposed to speaking to) a rock which then produces water, the Hebrews being presented with the perfect amount of quail to last through Sabbath, and the presentation of the Ten Commandments (er, with the notable exception of the Golden Calf incident).

    Anyway, I guess the pastor then stopped the congregation and said that what they needed to really know about the events of the Exodus, though, had nothing to do with how the Bible portrayed it. He said the whole book of Exodus was a lesson to people on how to overcome problems with G-d. For instance, Melissa once told me, how did the Hebrews feel about G-d HONESTLY when they found out he was willing to lead them out of slavery? Were they happy? Or were they disappointed that here they’d wasted all their lives, here their brothers and fathers had died, FOR NOTHING except that G-d wanted to take his sweet time? Or how did the Hebrews feel when G-d HARDENED Pharoah’s heart? Were they like “yeah, that makes sense, we don’t want Pharoah to release us unless it comes from the depths of his heart”? Or would they have been FURIOUS that G-d was toying with them and with Pharoah this way, instead of just getting them out of there?

    My friend always said that the book of Exodus is one example after another of a disgruntled and struggling people who are disappointed in G-d and whose prayers don’t come true exactly how they wish they would. She said that knowing that, knowing how they must have felt and what they were going through, and then SEEING what came of it – that the Hebrews were delivered to Canaan and that even Moses, flawed as a man and barred from entering the Promised Land, died by walking with his Maker…she said that when she saw all the greatness that came after all the sorrow, she could forgive G-d much easier. She could come to terms with not understanding how G-d worked and believe that He would have a purpose for what he allowed to occur.

    Good luck. I know that it cannot be easy doing what you’re doing, but your daughters will thank you later for caring as you do.

  3. Sorry that was so long. Wow. Practically a novel.

  4. What a great post, and what a great reminder. Thank you Mary!

  5. My father died at 48 when I was 16. I, too, know first hand what it is like to be wrapped in grief. But I also know that Jesus Christ is the only reason I made it and the only hope I had (and still have!) I pray your girls cling to Him and His goodness.

  6. i have come to accept that life happens and
    g-d helps us get through it. i really don’t believe that g-d let’s these horrible things happen, but that he cries with us when they do happen. if i believed any other way i would have spent the past 21 years furious with g-d for the horrible things that have happened to the people i have loved with all my heart and soul. but instead i have felt him with me crying at the untimely and unexplainable deaths and laughing with my dad and i at my mom who is now living on some other planet. it’s a happy place most of the time, but i still find it hard to accept that her mentally healthy siblings died, and here she is living out her biggest fear. i have tremendous faith in g-d, i just believe that he brings through and gives us strenght and is working on someone’s heart right now about tsion. we just have to hope they listen.

  7. A friend of mine helped me to look at grief and despair in a new light last year when we were devastated by a loss. She said don’t think of this as His punishment or to think “there must be a reason for this trial”. (I was so down on myself and thinking I must have caused this grief because of something I did or didn’t do.)

    She said to remember bad things happen because of evil in this world and we just need to remember He is part of our healing. Reaching out for His comfort is what gets us through the bad events in our life. Once we reached this point and put complete trust in Him, our lives were truly blessed with a new daughter.

  8. Faith is all about recognizing Who is in charge and who is not. It is about saying “Your will be done, not mine.” and believing that His will is better, no matter how it looks through our myopic lenses.

    It means being able to say, with Job “shall I accept good from the Lord, and not evil?” and recognizing that the “evil” is often for our very best good.

    It comes with time, and much prayer. I know your girls will get both in your home. I am confident along with you, Mary.

  9. I lost my mother to cancer when I was 15. My faith became more important and more real to me than it had before. I understood what it meant to NEED God. Like you, there were many blessings along the way but I’d still rather have my mom.

    The first thing I thought of when I read this post was “Wow, how incredible that God placed these grieving girls with someone who would understand their pain– not only a mama who would understand, but a bunch of aunts and uncles too!” I don’t think there’s one answer to such a large WHY question as this, but it’s amazing to look back and realize that when your father died, God already had it planned for you to adopt these girls. He knew that they would need you and your family. He knew that they would need a family that could understand how hard it is to trust God when you’re hurting– a mother who had faced the difficulties they had faced and still chosen a faith in God.

    I will be praying for your daughters as they cotinue to face the pain of loss so young. Thank you for sharing this story.

  10. oh, Mary, I am sorry about the tragic loss of your dad.

    I was very touched by what your daughter said about her mom. You know, isn’t it amazing that out of all the families that could have adopted her, it was a loving Christian family that did. Someone who could be His hands and feet to her and help her heal.

    God always has such amazing plans, doesn’t he?

  11. Mary,
    Amazing to me that God allows us to experience things for “such a time as this.”
    Just five minutes ago I finished a post of similar nature on our blog. God loves us so much and He has chosen us to take over where the Ethiopian mothers left off.

  12. Mary,
    Thank you so much for posting this! I was actually going through a situation this evening with my teenage son that was really heartbreaking, but confirmed the knowledge that sometimes I have no clue why things happen the way they do…but I know and am confident in God’s continuous love for His children. It doesn’t change…it is a love that we can trust fully in.
    Thanks again for these thoughts…very beautifully written. You have encouraged me today 🙂

  13. A faith that survives well such an event, is a blessing all by itself. I am glad you shared this story and am praying tonight that your new girls will come to trust our loving God with everything–even that their Ethiopian mother is not to return.

  14. Those girls are so blessed to have you. Loss of a parent is such a painful thing – I lost my mom at 24 and although I was technically an adult, I felt like a little girl lost for many, many years. I’m sure both those girls will always miss their mother and probably even feel a little guilty for their new life and for loving their new mother so much. It will all sort out and their grief will become less agonizing as time marches on. And you will be an example of faith who helps to keep their hearts with Christ. Bless you, Mary. I love, love, love reading your blog.

  15. mary – thank you for sharing this inspirational story.

  16. Please tell me about their friend Tsion .

  17. As the “baby” sister who was only 6 when Daddy died, I loved reading these comments. I love that God had this all planned. I love that God put our family together and that He knows what each one of us needs. I love that we are never alone 🙂 Thanks for the post.

  18. Beautiful post. May their Memories be Eternal.

  19. I have learned during all the deep sadness of my life…and there has been lots….that God always used our sorrows for His glorification. Sounds strange to say that, but many times, in my darkest hours, I have wondered where God is. And then when He gets me through, a wonderful peace and beauty surrounds me and I realize that He was there pulling me through and will use whatever it is I’ve experienced to help me help others find their way to Him. I’ve learned that God does not cause the bad things in our lives, but he is there to work a blessing in them so I can never forget that He loves me.

  20. Thanks for your writing and your faith.
    May God bless + you!

  21. He reigns :]

  22. Mary, I think this one of your BEST posts!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you SO much for sharing. I had no idea that was how your dad died….a GREAT shock, indeed. And the Lord taught you His sovereignty through it…..a gift, indeed. And now He’s using you and that gift of Truth He has given to you to minister, pray, love, and teach children that only HE could give you….children He chose for you before there was time!!!!!!!!!!!!! When your dad died….the Lord knew you would later have 2 girls from Ethioipia who would be grieving their mother’s death. Amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Worshipful!

  23. it’s one of my life verses… and i needed to be reminded of it today. thank you!

  24. Thank you so much, Mary, and also Sarah….both posts very inspirational for reasons I can’t even go into here.

    Mary, I adore your blog. It always encourages, inspires, delights and refreshes me.

  25. What a great post Mary. Thanks for the reminder.

  26. Beautiful post, Mary.

    “I need to have faith that God will work to heal their hearts.” That’s just it, isn’t it? It’s pretty easy to forget the letting God be God part when you’re a mama. A part of me would prefer to somehow get it all healed up myself and not have to watch them take their own journeys of faith.