Many of us look back on our lives and stand in awe at the trials and sorrows God has allowed us to experience. I believe the purpose for this is so we may admire what God has done for the betterment of our souls. He has not taken us through these heartaches so we can wallow in self-pity. And it is not that we should regret having been chosen for this task (even though, truth be told, I’m guilty of this).
No, our journey gives us opportunity to take what God has allowed and give Him the glory, no matter how harsh our sorrow.
Remember what God told Ananias about Paul in Acts 9:16 (KJV)? I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.
If we are His children, won’t we also suffer for His name’s sake?
My understanding about loss began fifty years ago, when my maternal grandmother, Nanny, died from cancer. At the time, I hurt badly and couldn’t imagine life without her. I still miss my nanny and even now wake from dreams of her with my lashes wet with tears. Long ago, though, I followed her example and advice: “Make perfect pies, and remember people do matter!”
Forty-nine years ago, my baby sister, Maria Annette died at age six in our family house fire. This was the worst time in my life up to this point. I was thirteen years old, and since then I’ve been determined to be more like Maria with her observant ways and her tenacity to plan ahead.
Twelve years ago, my youngest child Joshua died by suicide at age twenty-five. Much of me died also, yet God molded my heart so now I’m able to show more compassion to others as a result of my sorrow.
Eight years ago, my thirty-nine-year-old brother, Eric Neal, died serving his country. The moment I was told, I lost my breath, and as time stood still, unbelief shook me to the core. Once again, God showed me, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13 (KJV)
Three months ago, on December 10, 2015, my brother Lee Allen, who is three years younger than me, went missing. Lee and I are among the three eldest siblings in a family of nine, and now, this cord is broken. I’m determined to be more giving as Lee was in his fifty-nine years of being my brother.
Yes, I look back, but my heart’s desire is not to wallow in self-pity, but give God the glory.
However, there is yet another reason we suffer. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV) tells us (with emphasis on verse 4): Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
If we but let Him, trust and watch how God is able to lighten our way through the darkest moments of our lives. We will be comforted in our sorrows and heartache so we can then be a blessing and encouragement to others who are in the midst of their own trials.
Father God, I desire to trust You in times of joy and even in times of sorrow. In Jesus’s holy name, I praise You. Amen.
photo credit by James D. Williams