The phone rang. The news came. The unthinkable, except you have thought about it. It’s why you whisper prayers at night when your children are on the road. You do think about the possibility of the unexpected, but you just cling to the hope that it will not be your unexpected news. You do not want it to be anyone’s unexpected news, and yet you don’t live in a bubble, so you know that the reality is, some will die young.
On October 24, 2018, we received the heart-wrenching news that our son, Ryan, 22 years young, was struck by a truck while working roadside for his job. One day later, we stood beside his hospital bed, holding his hand tenderly because almost every bone was broken, and it was difficult to find a place we could hold without fear of hurting him. But the reality of it was that the pain of the world was losing its grip as the hope of heaven was tightening His. We didn’t expect that we would have to kiss our son’s cheek and say goodbye, but we did.
The unexpected can knock you over, taking the breath right out of you. One moment you are breathing effortlessly, and the next moment you aren’t sure how you will breathe at all, but you do. Because the reality is, you were not responsible for the breath you made without effort any more than the ones that felt impossible after deep hurt.
Our unforeseen is seen by God.
I admit that it is beyond hard to understand how El Roi, the God who sees, knows our unexpected and still allows it to occur. Trust me when I say my husband and I have wrestled with that one. Thankfully, God understands our wrestling and meets us during it when we need Him most.
In the unexpected, I found a deeper connection with the Creator.
In the sudden and hard, I heard His Word in the dark of night. Years of scripture stored in my heart soothed my soul. His voice reminding me that His Son, Jesus, had gone before Ryan to prepare a place for him (John 14:2).
In the unforeseen, I had to cling to that which I could not see.
Because that is faith and that is where hope is found. And I did not want to lose hope.
Six days after we watched Ryan’s last earthly breaths, all that you never expect to experience became too innumerable to count. Arguing with authorities about autopsies, hearing from strangers who spent more time with your child in the last week of his life than you did, looking loved ones in the eye and helping them understand this was real, planning your first child’s funeral while your second child does her best to be strong so her parents don’t crumble. I thought at some point we would wake from the nightmare, but you don’t.
However, what I now know is that if you are determined to cling to hope, Hope will shelter you. Hope will carry you. Hope will when you aren’t able.The end of yourself opens the opportunity for the beginning of something incredible—deep dependence on God. Click To Tweet
I wouldn’t choose this road for myself, my husband, my daughter, or anyone else. But while I ache, I also rejoice. Each day we have a choice. We can allow the unexpected to suck the life from us, or we can choose a road that leads to living abundantly. A road filled with strength, joy, peace, and hope.
A friend recently shared this in a Voxer message, and it will not leave my memory because it is what I long for others to have in their life. She said, “I keep thinking of my friend Jodie, the joy warrior. How she is constantly going to the Word, not to find the silver lining because that would make it too lighthearted, but to say, what is the truth?”
She continued sharing these powerful truths:
- We know our Redeemer lives. (Job 19:25)
- His banner over us is love. (Song of Solomon 2:4)
- Whatever the battles we are all fighting and facing, He is the one holding the banner high before us and we just follow His lead. (Luke 9:23)
- We don’t grieve as those without hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
The unexpected comes, doesn’t it, sister?
But there in that place of hard and heavy, the truth remains the truth. We can cling to it. We can bank on it. When we don’t understand, because I still don’t entirely, we can find peace in it.
Your hard and unexpected likely looks different and the same. Right now, as a nation, we are walking things described as unprecedented and at the same time, you are carrying burdens of your own. So, what do we do?
We cling to God. Our Father. Our Creator. El Roi. All-knowing and all-powerful. Most High.
We dwell in His word, eating it for nourishment because it will carry us through the darkest, most difficult times and when we seek the truth, we have hope. We know heaven awaits. We know that God is working things together, even the surprising, for the good of those who love Him.