In 1985 my world was turned upside down when our three-year-old daughter, Becca, was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma – bone cancer. Her tiny little left leg was amputated, and she went through nine months of chemotherapy.
God spared her life at that time. However, we found out several years later that an unknown long-term effect of one of the chemo drugs used was heart damage.
She was married at the young age of nineteen and became pregnant within the first few months. Because pregnancy causes such a stress on the heart, it escalated her moderate heart damage to the point of only being given a 50/50 chance of surviving the labor and delivery, whether it was by cesarean or vaginally.
God spared both her life and the life of our precious little granddaughter, and we were very thankful. But from that point on, her weakened heart was a major issue in her life.
For the next nine years she dealt with heart issues. They became so severe she needed to be placed on the heart transplant list but wasn’t healthy enough. On Becca’s 28th birthday, she had major heart surgery, putting in a pump to run the left side of her heart. For the next eighteen months, she had several major life-and-death issues, which caused a dozen ambulance rides and three med flight helicopter trips to her hospital, forty miles away.
On October 12, 2011, our daughter’s heart finally gave out, and she crossed over to meet Jesus face-to-face and to receive her full and complete healing. (Details of Becca’s story can be read by clicking here.)
Why am I sharing all of this? Because as someone who has lost a child through death, and as someone who grew up believing the Bible is God’s Word, the two can be hard to reconcile.
Before my daughter Becca died, there are so many verses that I could agree with, and cheer for as the truth in my life. But now, there are many verses that I have to dig into for a deeper meaning, because what I thought some of those scriptures meant, no longer made sense in my deep pain and confusion.
For instance, Ephesians 3:20 tells us that God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works in us.” I used to love that verse, because I could imagine a lot of good things, believing God would do even more than those great and wonderful things I could imagine! And that included awesome things for my kids. Yahoo!
But when the Holy Spirit showed me how to see that verse in a totally different way after Becca died, it became very precious to me. When we are in that place of suffocating darkness after the death of our child, we can’t ever imagine coming out of the darkness. We can’t imagine we can learn how to live a life of meaning and purpose without our child here. We can’t imagine living out the rest of our lives in so much pain, just living in a shell wanting and waiting to die to go be with our child.
But God can! God not only imagines all of that, He can do way above and beyond what we thought was possible in our lives. So often we can only imagine darkness for the rest of our time here on earth. But He can do so much more than what we can imagine. He can bring light. He can bring hope. He can give us a life of meaning and purpose again, not in spite of our child’s death, but because of his or her life!
Here’s another one.
1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him” (GW). This was a verse that used to be so exciting to me! God has more for me than I could ever imagine! Wow! How awesome is that? Lay it on me, God!
Let me just say, the darkness and pain of my daughter’s death was definitely more than I could have imagined, and it is not awesome, it is horrible!
But wait…let me share with you what I have discovered. This verse isn’t talking about the great life we are going to have with awesomeness and wonderful things being poured out on us continually. It is talking about the mystery of the death of Jesus, and how God was going to use it so that our “faith would not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power” at work in us (verse 5). Now that is a real wow; much deeper than the shallow “bless me with all kinds of good stuff, and I will follow You” kind of belief in God.
Verse 12 says, “We didn’t receive the spirit that belongs to the world. Instead, we received the Spirit who comes from God so that we could know the things which God has freely given us.” So what has God freely given us?
How about for a start:
- Peace in the storms (or tsunamis) of life beyond our own understanding
- Joy that goes beyond our circumstances
- Triumph and victory over tragedy
- Resurrection power and life from death
I now see these verses in 1 Corinthians and Ephesians as more of a promise for those of us who have been thrown into a place of deep darkness. It is God’s promise that He is going to bring us out in a way that we can’t see or hear right now, and we can’t even imagine how, in our place of darkness. This new understanding makes a whole lot more sense to me than using this scripture as a u-rah-rah-Go-God type of verse to be excited about Him being some sort of Santa Clause bringing us all kinds of fun presents.
How about you? Are you in a place of deep struggle, wondering how God could possibly tell us He has so many good things for us? Is He lying to us? Was that just something to make us think He is good, to deceive us into believing in Jesus as our Savior? Let me answer that with a resounding no! God is good. Not only is He good, but He is perfect in all of His ways, or He would no longer be God. If I could turn Him into a magic genie to make my wishes come true, He would no longer be big enough to be God.
It comes down to a matter of trust. Do I trust that He can see what I cannot see? Do I trust that He can hear what I cannot hear? Do I believe that He knows the full picture, and that what I am going through fits into the plan of eternity, way beyond what my finite mind can comprehend of life here and now on earth?
I choose to believe the richness of the full depth of 1 Corinthians 2:9. My eyes cannot see, my ears cannot hear, and my mind cannot imagine what God is going to do with my darkness, but God can and will do so much more in my life, as He starts to bring glimmers of light into my darkness.
I have chosen to believe not only that He can, but that He will bring life from death itself. After all, that is His specialty! Will you join me?
Are you looking for help with your grief from a Christian perspective? We would like to send you chapter nine, A Spiritual Fireside Chat, from Laura’s book When Tragedy Strikes: Rebuilding Your Life With Hope and Healing after the Death of Your Child. (This will also allow you to join over 1,000 other parents who are receiving a Weekly Word of Hope, which you can unsubscribe from at any time.)
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.
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.
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