I’m not sure there is a more hopeless feeling on earth as watching someone you love die.
I watched his life slip away on a monitor, steady beats becoming few and far between. The ventilator was breathing for him, and watching his chest rise and fall with such ease gave the false hope that everything was going to somehow be okay. I silently begged God in those final moments. I couldn’t speak because grief was already choking me, but I was screaming on the inside. I willed with everything in me for his heart rate to increase, instead I watched it slowly decline until it was just a flat line that signaled the loss of a son, a husband, and a father.
I became a widow in that moment.
I was 19.
I was a mother to a two year old.
My heart felt like it split right into. Come to think of it, I think all the times my heart has felt broken since then have just been splinters off that first crack right down the middle. Like when a windshield is initially hit by a rock, there is the first big break, and then over time more spread until the whole windshield looks like an intricate spider web.
In all of the stages of grief that I went through afterwards, being angry at God was never one of them. Disappointed? Yes.
I was disappointed because I felt sure he would be healed. I was disappointed because I felt like everything that he had been through leading up to his death, was going to serve as a powerful testimony as to how God had healed him. I was disappointed because all my bargaining with God had not worked. I was disappointed because all the times I thought I had heard from God that he was going to live, were not the case. And didn’t Jesus say if you have faith as little as a mustard seed? Surely, I did. Surely, we all did.
Though I was never angry with God, as I reflect now-seventeen years later- I realize this was the beginning of my trust issues with him.
Those few years leading up to his death, I soaked in scriptures such as “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding”- Proverbs 3:5, and countless others. I wore the pages of my Bible out looking up all scriptures that had to do with trust, faith, and healing. I applied everyone one of those to his health, meditated on them, and prayed them over him constantly. And so did a lot of other people. Still, he died.
If I’m honest, even now when I’m going through something and someone says to me “Just trust God”, I cringe at first, even though I have no problem telling the same to others and fully mean it when I say it; even though I have many moments when I can feel within myself that I have let something go and am trusting God. When those moments come, it is a sweet release. There is nothing more freeing than to be able to let go in any situation and say “Ok, I’m trusting you, it’s all yours and I know either way that you see me, you know me, and whatever happens I will be ok with it, because you are God and even though the outcome might not be what I want, you have a plan and who am I to question you?” And let me stop right there. Because within that last sentence lies the real issue.
Trusting God with what I want…what I want…want.
The reason I cringe is because I know that trusting God wholly means that the outcome might not be what I want. I know that it means I might be disappointed, and that learning and fully putting the practice of trusting him into place, is more about letting go of any control I think I have ( because I don’t) and surrendering it all to him. It means knowing and fully understanding that He has a plan. It means being okay with not always having answers when things don’t turn out the way you prayed they would.
I was reading the story of Hagar a few days ago. If you’re not familiar I’ll do a quick re-cap but encourage you to look it up on your own. It can be found in Genesis 16. Abram was married to Sarai who had not been able to conceive. Abram had been told by God that his offspring would be to numerous to count, yet his wife had not carried a child and they were getting older. She grew frustrated and gave her slave Hagar to him so that she may get pregnant and she(Sarai) would have a child. In those times this was a common practice for women who were barren. Even though the child would have been born from another woman, he or she would have been considered the wife’s child. Hagar did become pregnant and for reasons we can only guess, she treated Sarai with contempt once she knew she was. Sarai made her leave and as she came to the wilderness the Lord appeared to her. He told her to go back, and to suffer through the mistreatment of Sarai and that she would have a son, Ishmael. He told her of her offspring that would be too many to count.
What spoke to me was what I read next.
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me” Genesis 16:13
You are the God who sees me.
Seventeen years ago I lost my best friend- my first true love, but I’ve had many blessings since then. I’ve known love again and I’ve had the pleasure of becoming a mother to two more beautiful souls. I’ve made more mistakes than I can count and I’ve known more heartache since that first loss. I’ve struggled with trusting God in all areas of my life. Maybe you’re having difficulty trusting God right now, because all you see is what’s right in front of you. Or maybe like I once was, maybe you’re disappointed because a situation you were trusting him in, didn’t turn out the way you thought it would.
He is the God who sees me. He is the God who sees you.
He is the God who loves me. He is the God who loves you.
And he is the God who wants me and you to let go and trust him, because he sees us and if he is a God who loves us enough to look at us, then he is a God who has a plan for us.
That plan may not look like what we had planned, and it may even be one that we didn’t want, but freedom only comes when we become okay with that and simply trust our God who sees all.
When we can say:
“In you , Lord my God, I put my trust.” Psalm 25:1
and mean it.