As I look back at the last two and a half years, I realize just how far I have come.  The loss of my Mom was nearly more than I could bear.  I often wondered how I would get through the motions of each and every day.  While I had the desire to live life, I had absolutely no desire to sincerely enjoy life.  Since that time, I have found that I can enjoy life, even with the absence of my Mom.  My Dad and I enjoy many amazing experiences together, but through it all, there is always something missing from our daily life.  There are times when joyful times still have a bittersweet shadow lurking overhead, simply because my Mom is not there to share it with us.  Still, I want to remember the sweet memories I have of my Mom, with the assurance that I will see her again.  I suppose you could say the old adage, “Two steps forward, one step back,” is an accurate description of my journey to joy.  Some days are incredibly difficult, while others provide hope, strength, and happiness.  Even though I may be looking back, I am also moving forward.

During the times that I struggle to see the hope Jesus gives so freely, I am reminded of other moments when His hope was ever present, even amid difficulties I was facing.  While my Sweet Sixteenth year on this earth began with an All-Day Singing and Dinner on the Grounds, it ended in a much different realm.  My Mom was in the hospital at the time.  I walked into my closet to change clothes, so my Dad and I could go visit her that evening.  All of the sudden, I felt as if I had been stabbed in the side.  It was the most excruciating pain I had ever felt in my life.  I immediately told my Dad, who quickly ushered me out the door.  We went directly to the hospital emergency room.  I was evaluated, and it was determined that my colon had perforated and my heart rate was dangerously high.  The situation was extremely critical.

As they were preparing me for emergency surgery, my Dad was able to get permission to bring my Mom down to see me before I went into the operating room.  My Mom and Dad later told me that they wanted to see me one last time, in case I didn’t make it.  While I knew the situation was severe, I had complete assurance that Jesus would be in the operating room, guiding the surgeons’ hands.  Although I knew that peritonitis and all of the medical terms being spouted off by the nurses and doctors added up to a serious situation, I did not worry one bit.  I even recall telling my Mom and Dad that everything would be alright, and that Jesus would take care of me.  Even in the midst of what looked like a dire circumstance, I had complete faith that He would see me through.  I knew without a doubt that He would heal my body and restore my health.

I came through the surgery with a few complications, stayed in the Intensive Care Unit, and finally was able to come home several weeks later.  During the time I was in the hospital, my Mom was discharged from the hospital, so my Mom and Dad stayed by my side every day and night, except for the days when my Dad had to be at work.  I know it was a very difficult and trying time for them, worrying about their little girl.  Still, I know that my faith never wavered even once.  I knew that God would keep His promise.  In God’s Word, we read, “By His stripes, we are healed.”  I claimed this promise and I knew that I would prevail.  What I do not understand now is, how could I have had such a strength and faith at the young age of sixteen?  What was so different then?  While I have strength and faith now, there are times when I look back on August 2, 2008, and I wonder, why didn’t God intervene?

For me, I guess it was easier to believe that God would heal me and keep the faith, especially after He did heal me.  Now, I am left wondering why He did not answer my prayer for my Mom to stay with us.  Although I know He has my best interest at heart, I do not understand how the absence of my Mom is in my best interest.  Looking back, I can see God’s hand working in my life from the very moment I was born lifeless.  I realize the trials I had experienced up until this point were meant to make me stronger, to help me understand the will of God for my life, and to strengthen my relationship with Jesus.  What I have yet to figure out, as I strive to move forward, is how the loss of my Mom is meant to help.  Each step I take into the future, I have yet to determine how God will work this tragic loss for my good.

Romans 8:28 says, “All things work together for good, to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose.”  Perhaps I was born lifeless and then had the emergency surgery when I was sixteen to reveal to others Jesus’ healing power.  Quite possibly, some of the things that I have experienced throughout my life have been to show others the way I smile and shine forth the joy of Jesus, even in the most difficult of times.  But, what I have not figured out is how God will work this most recent trial for my good.  This loss has been devastating.  While I am not proud of this fact, I have not remained smiling and joyful 24/7 since my Mom went to be with the Lord.  And there was no healing about which to testify.  So, what is His purpose?  I don’t have all the answers, but I know that Jesus is the answer for every single question.

Inevitably, there are times in our lives when we will not know God’s purpose.  In reality, we may never know the purpose for some of the things that happen in our lives.  Even so, we must cling to the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.  As I look back on the way He has been so faithful to me, bringing me out of the toughest valleys and most raging rivers, I know that He will remain faithful.  Although it is difficult to move forward, I will press on.  I know that something better awaits.  It is my prayer that God will help me continue to live my life in service to Him.  And I pray that I can minister to someone’s heart through the message I bring.  That message is to tell you that even when life changes, there is joy around the bend.  I cannot explain the past, or the present.  But whether I am looking back or moving forward, I know the future is bright.  Because one day, we’ll be looking back at earth and moving forward to a Heavenly home.

In Christ’s Love,