Leaving the hospital without my son’s body was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I felt like I was abandoning him. Even worse, I felt abandoned by God. I was empty inside in every way.
Once outside the building, my husband and I walked in silence to the garden where they told us they would spread his ashes. In the distance, the low rumble of an approaching thunderstorm echoed my mood. My spirit felt God’s gentle whisper, “I will be with you.” That was the last I heard from God for many years.
Hurt, distrustful, and angry, I gradually pulled away from God. Shattered and undone, I was too weak and broken to risk disappointment by trusting God to take care of me and the ones I love most in this world.
What I failed to realize at the time is that I cut myself off from my only lasting source of healing. I pruned the “fruit tree” of my life in all the wrong places. Because I cut out God and nurtured self-pity, I stunted my growth and impaired my development.
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Over the years, my thoughts and heart grew increasingly twisted like a bone that wasn’t set right following a break and regrew misshapen. Withholding my whole heart from God reduced my fruitfulness and what fruit I did manage to grow was often tainted with bitterness.
An apple tree branch lying on the ground separated from the tree will never produce anything useful or desirable. It’s only worth is fuel for the fire.
Similarly, a spirit separated from its Source will never be able to fulfill the purpose for which it was created. The powerhouse of a fruitful life arises from a close connection with God.A spirit separated from its Source will never be able to fulfill the purpose for which it was created. The powerhouse of a fruitful life arises from a close connection with God. #connectwithGod Click To Tweet
After trying everything else without success or relief, I finally quit running from God, turned back to face Him and got really honest. “I’m really upset with you, God. This isn’t fair. I don’t get you and I feel betrayed . . . but I have nowhere else to go. I need you to help me.”
That was the place my true healing began.
Like the Apostle Peter in the midst of his confusion and doubt, I too relented, “Where else can I go, Lord. You alone have the words of Eternal Life.” (John 6:66-69)
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For years I ached at the memory of my personal storm in the grave garden and God’s whispered promise to me. Accusingly, I wondered why God would promise such a thing and then disappear. What was the point of knowing He was near if I couldn’t sense His presence?
His apparent absence stabbed all the more painfully at my heart knowing He had vowed not to leave me. It would be so much easier to endure being ignored if I had never expected to be loved in the first place. Perhaps that’s why so many reject faith altogether and claim atheism. (Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5)
God’s rosy promises that all will be well don’t seem to line up with what we are experiencing. Sometimes, we misinterpret the true meaning of His promise. Sometimes, we fail to wait long enough for the promise to be fulfilled and walk away before the right time arrives.
Our defense against disappointment is often to lower our expectations. To claim that God doesn’t even exist is to give up on expecting anything from Him at all. It’s safe there, we can’t be disappointed . . . but neither can we be fruitful nor fulfilled. The place that seems safe is often empty and more dangerous than we can possibly understand.
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Only in hindsight, I have realized a very important truth.
God was with me all along. He never moved. I was the one who left.God was with me all along. He never moved. I was the one who left. #neveralone #notforsaken Click To Tweet
He felt my anguish of losing my son. God knew the thoughts I had of wishing I could join Timothy in Heaven. He heard every broken sob I choked back so I could stumble through another day. Jesus held me gently through every nightmare.
God watched me as I relieved the most shattering day of my life over and over and over. He saw me struggle to care for my other children as I carried a heavy and silent burden of grief. God saved every tear so that not one would be wasted. He waited eagerly for me with open arms until I finally turned back and flung myself upon Him because I had come to the end of myself.
I bore the burden of my grief alone because I stubbornly refused to surrender it to Him. I equated releasing the hurt with forgetting my son and that thought was intolerable to me. The only memories I had to hold on to Timmy were painful ones and so I clung tightly, not wanting to let him go.
I had forgotten what I learned on the monkey bars way back in elementary school. You have to let go of something to reach for what is next. Only by letting go of my pain, self-pity, and desire to stay where I was could I grab on to God’s grace and feel His presence once again. Only in surrendering my hurt to God could I find the healing I so desperately longed for.
Has your heart been shattered?
Did you draw closer to God or pull away?
What wisdom can you share with others in the comments below?