“How can I trust a God who says He loves us and yet allowed this terrible thing to happen to me and my child?” This is a question many grieving parents have.
When everything is going great and I am getting all my prayers answered the way I want, it is easy to believe that God is faithful, and that He is good, and to choose to trust Him with my life. But it is totally different to still believe He is faithful and good and to continue to trust Him when something horrible happens, like the death of my child.
If you are like me, for many years I was a “good Christian” and “claimed the promises of God” like praying protection over my family. And I saw Him answer those prayers over and over again. So when my daughter, Becca, died, does that mean God didn’t keep His promises, that He is not faithful and that I can no longer trust Him?
This is a huge topic, but for the sake of keeping it short and readable for this blog, I am only going to share five quick thoughts.
First let me say that our perspective has everything to do with how this question is answered, which probably shifted drastically at a time when we needed God more than ever in our lives.
So in order to shift our perspective again, either a new thought needs to be introduced and received, or an old one reclaimed. I suggest, even if you aren’t on speaking terms with God right now, that you pause to make sure your heart is open to these five things to help you make the needed shift, which will allow Him to carry you through the darkness and back into hope, light and a life worth living again.
1. Some parents are helped by the realization that their child is not missing; he or she is simply absent.
To be absent means not to be present for the moment. The Bible says that for someone who has accepted the gift of salvation, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). We may have lost our child from this earth, but it is only a temporary loss. Becca is only absent from my presence for the rest of my time here on earth.
I can either focus on my personal loss that my child is permanently absent from this earth (which sends me in a downward spiral) or I can focus on the fact that my child is absent from my presence for now but is present with the Lord in glorious joy and perfection. And even though the pain is intense with the temporary separation, I will meet up with my child again in our eternal home, never to be separated again.
And if you are tormenting yourself with the thought that he or she might not have made it there, let me say you don’t know that. You don’t have all the information that God does, so choose to believe that your child made the right choice before death and were welcomed in the open arms of the Savior, instead of choosing to fear that God turned His back on him or her. Why wouldn’t God make one last split-second offer? He loves your child even more intensely than you do and paid the ultimate price of allowing His Son to be brutally murdered to pay the price needed for our sins, so that we can all to be together! If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is!
2. Reading the book of Psalms in the Bible can be extremely helpful.
Over and over the writer cries out for help from a very dark place of despair. And God responds by being a rock, a refuge and help in times of need. I spend a lot of time there when I “relapse” and find myself struggling with the pain and reality that Becca is gone from this earth and I won’t see her again until I join her in heaven.
3. Don’t try to hide from your fears or pretend they aren’t there.
God wants you to bring all your feelings to Him, including the dark and negative ones. You may be wondering, He knows these things already. Why should I have to tell Him how I am feeling? Because you need to admit those things, so you can give them to God and let Him work with you at being set free. If you do this persistently, those tormenting feelings of fear and anger will eventually lose their hold on you, and you will find yourself opening up once again to God’s love and faithfulness to you through the worst trial you have ever faced, and find yourself starting to trust Him again to get you through it somehow.
4. Find different promises you can hold up to God.
I have chosen to believe Romans 8:18 more now than I ever did, which tells me the sufferings of this present time cannot be compared with the glory that will be revealed in me. Knowing how great my suffering has been, that must be some incredible glory that will be revealed to me at some point!
How about the promise of Jesus telling us He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5)? That is not a promise based on conditions. It is set and firm, no matter what we choose to do or not do or based on how we feel about Him.
He is our constant companion and source of everything we need during this time. The question is not “Where is God?” The question is “Where am I?” I can walk out on Him very easily, and many of us do. We ignore Him, as though He is no longer with us. That is never the case. Guess who moved away? (Hint: it’s not God.)
5. Remember that God always leads us into triumph.
During a worship song at church one day, I suddenly realized that if I bring God into my battle (including the battle of my fears and my darkness) then I will win, because it is impossible for Him to lose! He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. God has the first and last word in my life, and He also has it in the life of my child!
God has never entered a battle where He came out as the loser, and He never will. As soon as I see God on my side and not as the enemy, and ask Him to fight for me, I know somehow in the end I will come out victorious!
I can offer no easy fix or solution to this often-painful dilemma after the death of one’s child, although it is very black-and-white. We either believe God is good and Satan is evil, or we don’t.
We either believe that God isn’t big enough and has not won the final victory over sin and death, or we believe that He is more than enough, and the death of my child is not where God reached His limits. Somehow, He has a way out of the suffocating darkness of grief because of His deep love for me, and I am determined to hold on to Him with everything I have until He gets me to that place.
There is freedom in surrender. There is peace in trusting. That may not make any sense, but isn’t that part of what makes Him God? So often life here on this earth won’t make any sense with our limited minds. God sees what we cannot see, and He knows what we do not know. And we need to get to the point where we are okay with the fact that there are just some answers we won’t get on this side of eternity.
Living life here on earth without my oldest daughter has been an extremely painful challenge. And in working my way through the grief, I have discovered that God is not who I thought He was. He is way better than how I limited Him before. He is more compassionate, more loving, more faithful, more everything that is good, and that I need, to get me through my remaining time here until I am reunited forever with Becca.
I pray you will make the same discovery.
We would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below which of the five shifts spoke to you the most. You never know who you might encourage with your own thoughts on this subject.
This blog was taken from the book When Tragedy Strikes: Rebuilding Your Life with Hope and Healing After the Death of Your Child. As of the writing of this blog, we are in the process of putting together a free study course for those who want to go deeper than the book takes them. We would be happy to let you know when it is ready to be offered and to send more detailed information.
Expressions of Hope is written by author, speaker and singer Laura Diehl. She and her husband, Dave, are the founders of Grieving Parents Sharing Hope (GPS Hope). Dave and Laura travel full time in their Hope Mobile (a 38-foot motor home) to be more easily available for speaking and ministry requests, including being invited to hold one-day GPS Hope & Healing conferences.
Laura is a national keynote speaker and has also been a workshop speaker for events such as The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents USA national conferences, along with being a guest on radio shows, podcasts and other media channels such as webinars with Open to Hope.
If you would like more information about Laura as a speaker for your next event or want more information on hosting a GPS Hope & Healing conference, click here.
GPS Hope exists to walk with grieving parents through the suffocating darkness of child-loss, guiding them to a place of hope, light and purpose.
We also support families, friends and coworkers who want to know how to support these parents both short and long-term.
- If you are a bereaved parent, we encourage you to connect with us on Facebook.
- If you are not a bereaved parent but want to support those who are, or want to follow us as we give hope to these precious parents, please connect with us at Friends of GPS Hope on Facebook.
- Subscribe to Laura’s YouTube channel.