Where do you turn when life gets hard?

IMG_074368 degree days in October are rare in Michigan, so when the forecast matched the weather on Saturday, I decided to take my adorable 7 and 4 year old boys on a walk, maybe rake some leaves, toss a few balls around and breathe in the fresh air.

After breakfast dishes were washed, I asked my mom, who was visiting from Wisconsin, if she would dry them while I went to see if my Hot and Hunky husband wanted to come along.  I found him still asleep on the couch, with the little boys sitting nearby watching TV. I admired him from the archway, debating whether to wake him or let him sleep.

My family was getting used to our new normal.  My father-in-law, who had been living with us on and off for a of couple years, had died 3 weeks earlier and while it was a relief in many ways, Hot and Hunky was grieving the loss deeply.

I moved closer and whispered his name. It was then I noticed how pale he was. I put my hand on his forehead to check his temp.

He was ice cold.

I screamed his name and pounded his chest with both fists. There was no give; his body was hard. I shouted for my mom to call 9-1-1.   Fire trucks arrived; firemen in full firefighting regalia poured into our home. An ambulance appeared, and men in starched white shirts dotted with embroidered patches moved efficiently through their routine. An EMT examined his body thoroughly and gently told me what I already knew.

Hot and Hunky was dead.

I wanted to crawl into his lap and stay there. Let them bury both of us. How could I live without him? He looked just as strong and powerful dead as he had the night before.

I held his hands and sobbed, because for the first time in the twenty-one years I’d known him, they were cold.

I sat on the floor, hugging my legs, my head on my knees, rocking myself like a terrified child. We had been together for so long, I thought we were fused. When he died, why hadn’t I too? What would I do without him? How would I get along? What would happen to us?

A teeny tiny quiet thought ran through my mind: You will be fine—trust me. Trust me. You’ll be okay. I know you don’t like this, but you are ready for it. Jay is with me, and I am always with you.

A calm started to settle on me like a warm fuzzy blanket. I was still shaking, but I kept hearing that reassurance of the Holy Spirit of God: You’ll be okay. Just trust me. You don’t lose your joy even when you lose important people. I AM your joy. 

It’s been 19 years since that awful day and while I wouldn’t wish that pain on anyone, I learned to trust God in the deep and in the dark.

My story, our story, is the story of what God can do with the broken pieces of our lives if we will believe in him.

Today, my boys are grown and gone, but we are all happy, healthy, whole and love Jesus.

God did everything he said he would.

Do you know God like that?

Completely faithful and trustworthy.

You can, just ask him into your day and your circumstances and your life.

He won’t let you down.

Scripture Refresher: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;  his mercies never come to an end; they are new  every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

Prayer: Oh, God, sometimes this life is just so hard.  Be my comfort and my strength and my provider and my shield.  I can’t do this without you.  Amen.