Hello, my name is Sara and I am a grieving mother. That’s the nametag that I wish I could wear all day, every day. The nametag that would keep well-meaning people from asking me how my day is going because I hate to say, “Good,” when I don’t really mean it. I also hate to ruin their day by telling the truth because the truth is I’m horrible. I recently lost my five-year-old daughter to brain cancer and it’s the worst thing imaginable. Actually, worse than the worst thing you can imagine. But death does not stop life for the rest of us. Life requires that you get up and move forward even when you don’t think you can. Hence, the need for the nametag. Or a t-shirt; grieving people need t-shirts, too.
As a grieving parent, one of the things you hear daily from those around you is, “I don’t know how you do it.” I can only assume they’re wondering how my husband and I get up in the morning, drink coffee, get dressed and do life without our daughter. The coffee part is a given—there is no life before coffee—but the rest is all supernatural. A mere mortal could not have the strength to carry on in this way without help. I would argue to someone who thinks they are doing it on their own that they are certainly NOT. When I wake up in the morning, God takes over. Plain and simple. He puts one foot in front of the other all day long until it’s time for bed again. And when I have to stop and cry, he is there with his arms around me, allowing me to just be until it’s time to get up and walk again.
There are many words to use when the heart is breaking and the world seems out of your control (newsflash: it’s always out of your control). I would never judge anyone for using those words in times of loss, but there is one “F” word that should be used above all others: FAITH. Faith is the only word with real power in a time of crisis. It’s the word that can move mountains, close the mouths of lions and slay giants. Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is, “The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is also what defends us from the never-ending attacks of the enemy around us. Ephesians 6:16 reminds us to take up the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one.
When you’re fighting a battle (spiritual or otherwise) you have to have backup. I often imagine God as my sniper. I’ve got boots on the ground and I’m taking fire from all angles. As I take cover under the shield of faith, God is picking off the enemy from a higher position. He sees the enemy before they can fire off a round and has absolute precision in taking them down. The thing about snipers, though, is you usually can’t see them. You’re trusting they’re there because they’re part of your team, but they are hidden from view. That’s faith. We can’t see the outcome of the battle we’re facing, but we know we’ve got backup. We move forward, in faith, knowing that we’re covered.
But sometimes we get hit. We feel the sting of that arrow pierce us in the heart. Why? Why, if we believe that God is good and He does good, do we still suffer? As we journeyed through a cancer diagnosis, harsh treatment and an eventual relapse, we held tight to the hope that our sweet girl would be healed. If not by medicine, then certainly by our Father. Not one day did I doubt our family would see a miracle. But we didn’t. How devastating. How difficult. How easy it was to scream “WHY?! WHY GOD??” A hard concept for Christians and non-Christians alike to grasp is the question of why does God allow this? If He loves us so much, why do we suffer? Why do our children suffer? Friends, I’m here to tell you that God does not allow this. The world we live in is broken and full of sin and death and the only way to escape it is through Him and His promises of eternal life for us. In this life where we remain in the meantime, we must hold on to the fact that God has planned for good in every ending that did not go the way we had hoped or prayed for.
1 John 5:14 is an interesting verse. It says, “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us.” Oh, how I wish I could change that verse to say, “If we ask anything according to His will, He makes it so.” God hears us. He always does, but that doesn’t mean we will always have the outcome we want. That’s where faith steps in. Faith fills the gap between what WE want and what God has planned. He did not will a bad thing to happen to you, but He will always allow for a beautiful answer in its place. Something so unexpected and amazing that only God could have designed it. Sometimes we have to wait for it (and it’s the waiting that kills me), but that’s faith. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Tony Evans is, “Faith is acting like it is so, even when it is not so, so that it might be so, simply because God so.” I take that as a roundabout way of saying God has plans for me (He said so), so I will live as if it’s true (acting like it is so), until the day it is (so that it might be so).
Noah did not wait for the rain to believe. He picked up a hammer and trusted that a flood was coming. Rarely will be see God’s plan for us by being still. We get up, carry our shield of faith and march forward His truth. But for now, I’ll still wear my nametag.