Unexpected, unforeseen, without warning, that day altered my life forever. At age 36, my daughter and only child died. Some people predicted I would not survive. I wasn’t sure myself. I would not have thought it possible. And yet, somehow, from somewhere inside me, arose a strength I had no idea I possessed, and I rose from the ashes like a phoenix. How? What’s my secret? How can a mother not only survive, but thrive, after the unimaginable happens? Four things are absolutely crucial.
In spite of what happened, I expect good. I lean into Romans 8:28 until it’s absorbed into my soul like healing ointment absorbed into a wound. I expect God to turn tragedy into triumph. No matter how horrible I feel. No matter how bleak everything appears. I expect good from the goodness of God’s heart.
Hold onto Hope
Some days, less than a smidgen of hope is all I have to hold on to, yet, I cling to it like a drowning person to a life raft. I clench my hands around hope like a climber hanging by a thread on the side of a mountain. I hope for good. I hope for a future that’s not as dismal as my fears project. Jeremiah 29:11 promises that my future will be good, and I hold God to his Word. I mix faith with words and speak of good, not evil. I project hope into the future.
I choose to be confident in the goodness and faithfulness of God. What happened wasn’t God’s fault. It wasn’t because God failed. If I want to blame someone or something, I turn my anger on the devil. He’s the one who brings disease, destruction, and death, not God. God is the one who comforts me, strengthens me, helps me--daily, hourly, even minute-by-minute. He keeps me putting one foot in front of the other. He is faithful and trustworthy to be my light in the darkness, my peace in the storm, and my comfort in deep sorrow.
I am thankful for how God has proven faithful amid this great loss. I’m thankful for all the daily miracles of his grace and blessings. I’m thankful for his tenderness and compassion, for giving me songs in the night, for the tears He sheds side-by-side with me, and for glimpses of the substantial reality of heaven and its glory. As I begin to give thanks, my eyes are opened to see that his blessings are more numerous than the sands on the seashore. But, I can walk blindly by his blessings without noticing, if I’m not cultivating a thankful heart.
The ability to rise from the ashes of devastating loss is not innately in me. I didn’t pull strength or hope out of a hat. I seriously would not have survived apart from God’s grace and through cooperating with God in these four significant ways--expecting good, holding on to hope, trusting, and being thankful. Otherwise, I would absolutely crumble under the weight of sorrow. But, God is greater than tragedy, greater than loss, greater than sorrow. His greatness lives within me and causes me to triumph.