Confused but Confident

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
James 1:2-4

I know that my God is good. I know that His plans are right and true.  I know that all things work for His glory and my good.

But I am confused.

Is it ok to say that? I trust God knows what He is doing and I trust that He has a plan … but it doesn’t make any sense right now.

If mom was going to die, why not just have her on the bus two weeks ago? Why put mom through the pain of grieving the loss of Dad just to have her join him 13 days later? Why put the four of us through planning a second funeral with the ink still wet on our thank you notes from the last one?

And what about the kids? Mom and dad faithfully served for so many years in preteens and Awana. Why put all those kids through the pain of losing Dad … just to rip mom away two weeks later?

Last night I was listening to a sermon from Grace about the stages of faith.  He talked about the wall… and how believers will eventually be led into a dark night of the soul so that they can move from knowing about God to knowing God. He was referencing the verse in James that instructs us to count it all joy when we endure trials because we know that the testing of our faith is what perfects us for every good work.

The pastor pulled his illustration from David, who had everything stripped away and was a fugitive for over a decade before his eventual assent to the throne of Israel. He explained that God had to strip away everything from David so that David could find that God was all he needed.  This is what prepared him to reign and made him the best king to ever rule over Israel.

As I listened to the sermon, I recognized my own feeling of having everything stripped away from me to leave me with only God to cling to. When Cassie called and told me mom was dead, I had a strange mixture of emotions… sure I was in shock, sad, hurt, and brokenhearted. But the overwhelming emotion today has been confusion.

Maybe downright curiosity.

God, what are you up to? What are you trying to build in me and what great work do you have for me to do that requires a test of such fire?

David endured a decade without his status, wife, family, dignity, and home country because he was destined to rule Israel for 40 years and would be the king to deliver Israel from their enemies. David would make Israel great again and that is exactly what he did, by delivering them from oppression and turning the heart of the people back to God. In all this success, David remained humble because God had taught him that this could all be taken away in an instant.

I am not called to rule a country, conquer an invading force, or return a nation to the Lord. But clearly God has a plan for my life and that plan requires a character in me that must be refined through the fire of pain.

Just as Jonah had no right to complain about the loss of the vine, I cannot bemoan God the loss of such amazing parents.  Many are never blessed with such a caliber of parents in the first place and I should count myself blessed to have had Murray and Dianne in my life.

Today was a day of tears, and there will no doubt be more to come in the weeks that follow. It was also a day filled with stressful decisions… adult decisions that I never expected to be making at this stage in my life.

First there will be the week of busyness. I will continue to wonder what God is up to and I will ask for wisdom as we work through the complex legal process to follow. I will write another obituary, we will process another cremation, and we will make another slide show.  We will order another set of flowers and each of us will give another speech at another memorial.

Then there will be the week of stillness… the week where reality sets in because both of my parents are gone and my life will never be the same. We will sell the properties and liquidate the estate and divide the inheritance and settle the details. Items will be stored, others sold, and still others tossed out as trash.

Eventually normalcy will return, work will resume, and days will begin to progress with some semblance of order. Somehow all the pieces of life will come back together to form a new picture, a new future, unlike anything I ever imagined.

My hope and prayer is that in a year when I look back on this unimaginable tragedy I will say with confidence that God has shaped me into a stronger woman and prepared me for His great work in my life.

Life is hard. No one makes it out alive. I am glad for community and I am grateful for family.

Above anything else, though, I am glad to know with absolute confidence that my parents are both alive and I will see them again. Hopefully a long time from now… but I know I will see them again.

Someday, millennia from now, from the other side of eternity, I know that I will look back on this time and see the hand of God. I will see how he had shaped myself and my siblings from this experience and I will trace His fingerprints in our lives as we each go on to do amazing things.

A tear will form in the corner of my eye and God will wipe it away. But the tears on that day will be tears of joy and gratitude that in the darkest nights and the hardest moments, God never left me alone. And, more importantly, He did not allow any of the pain to go on in vein because every bit of it will be redeemed, both in this life and the next.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

 

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39 thoughts on “Confused but Confident

  1. Tiffani Sanford

    Jenn, God must have made amazing things planned for you. Your strength and faith during such trying times is such a wonderful testimony to the watching world and encouragement and inspiration for me. Praying for you my friend.

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  2. Your testimony to your faith during such a hard time offers many reminders about strength in faith and the power of faith through hard times. Thank you for that. Praying hard for you, your family and your church community for yet abother loss. Lifting you all up in healing prayers and sending positive JuJu your way.

    Like

  3. Erinn Hughes

    Faith unwavering. God does have a plan, and all will be revealed in his time. Love you sweet friend. Praying for you and yours.

    Erinn

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  4. Jenn, I want you to know how much my heart grieves for your family’s terrible loss…its almost too much to believe and certainly confusing and hard to understand. I know that God has HUGE plans for you and He is already using you to reach others… this blog – your faith – is going to bring unbellievers to Christ. What a gift you have! Your genuinely honest writing and transparency is beyond mature for someone your age. You and your family will continue to be in my prayers. Your joy in Christ in all circumstances is one of the best testimonies I’ve ever experienced. You are not alone. God Bless You, Precious one.

    P.S. I knew your Dad when he was my son’s algebra teacher many years ago, and I met your sister, Cassie, my son’s classmate. I was impressed back then and more so now. Your parents did an amazing job with all of you.

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  5. Lauren Van buren

    Dear Jen,
    We just heard about your mom. I’m so sorry you all are having to go through this process again and so soon after your dad. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all! If there is anything we can do to help you please don’t hesitate!
    All our love,
    Steven and Lauren Van buren

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  6. Dillie Harrison

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this unimaginable journey of loss. May God give you comfort and peace.

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  7. Love you Jenn, and I haven’t seen you since your family came to Hooper in your RV. I am so sad about your parents, and cannot imagine your world without them in it. I read your beautiful blogs, and am so thankful that you are sharing them, helping us all as you grieve. I am praying for you, Matt, Russell, and Cassie.

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  8. Ruth Close Medley

    Jen, you have such a faith. And strength. We are praying for you, Cassie, Russell, and Matt. Please let me know if we can do anything for you all. Robert and I here in NB a neighborhood down from Walnut. We were across the street from you all. We love you all and are here for you. Please call on us. In Christ, Ruth Close Medley

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  9. Jill

    We love you and your family so much ❤ Sending so many prayers and so honored to read your thoughts as y'all work together through these hard times. You are helping so many by sharing them, and I know your parents are proud. Thank you for sharing them with us as well.

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  10. A

    so others would be saved through their legacy of wonderful christians. This is not the end, only the end of the fleshly body. 😢 The bible gives us a great example of how many people like you an me lost everything, sometimes it would happen withing a day, and they still had the victory in the end. Prayers and much love.

    Like

  11. Becky Moss

    Jenn,
    I don’t know you but I met your mom through awanas at FBC. I was amazed by her words and testimony at your Dad’s service last wk. You are following in her footsteps as you live out your faith. I am praying for you and your siblings and just wanted to encourage you. I can’t imagine the pain you are going through but I know that your family is pointing many to Christ. Praying that He will bring you His peace that surpasses all understanding as He works through you and walks with you through this. He is faithful.

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  12. Gala Myet

    My prayers for my Christian sister who speaks to hearts with life and God’s words. You have such perspective now. Welcome to the club of “MY Folks Already Moved Into Eternity” too. I am grateful you have siblings to grieve and who share your memories. Jenn, keep writing. I love reading/listening to God’s work in you. More prayers today.

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  13. Liz (Powell) Johnson

    Sweet Jenn, we have been praying hard for you and your family from Dallas and we will keep those prayers coming. I am heartbroken for you as you grieve the loss you both of your parents. I can’t even imagine the heartache you must be feeling. I am so grateful for your faith in Jesus that will carry you through the weeks, months, and years of processing this loss that are ahead of you.

    “But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” (‭Psalms‬ ‭73‬:‭16-17‬ ESV)

    You are never alone or forgotten, even when it feels that way.

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  14. Kristen Barchus

    Your strength is beautiful and truly amazing. You are already starting the job you are being shaped for, by posting your thoughts and letting people know that firmest of believers can have questions and confusion. They can recognize those feelings and see what it looks like to hang in there with your faith and grace. You are an inspiration. Your parents are very proud.

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  15. jenna annas

    You are amazing. Such graceful and humble words. Your strength inspires me. I lost my son many years ago and I have always held tight to God’s plan. I may be confused, but I knew he had a plan for me. I am praying for you and your family during this very difficult time. Your mom and dad are forever in our hearts.

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  17. Mary owens

    We feel your sadness, confusion and pain as well, this has forced all of us to live our days a little differently and look at our challenges in a different light. Your parents were a testimony to so many of what a servant of God looks like. We will always be here when you need us, please remember that.

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  18. sandy ryczak

    went to college with your mom. followed her military career as I was in the military. followed her family raising career as I was raising my family. we exchanged detailed c’mas letters to keep informed. i know how much she adored being a mom and a wife. I feel so for you and your siblings. she will be missed. God bless.

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  19. Preston Snyder

    Jenn, I am so incredibly sorry to hear of both losses!! It is unimaginable; however, I lost both of my parents way too young. God is good and the more we think about his plan the harder it is and more confusing it gets. We are incapable of knowing this. Stay stronger in your faith now than ever. The team here is thinking of you and so are many others. Stay strong Jenn and we are right here with you!!!! — Preston

    Like

  20. Dan Withers

    Jenn,

    I’m praying for God’s grace to watch over you. Such a terrible loss, and no one but God can answer why. But you are right when you say God is great.

    Like

  21. Your mom would have understood. Her duty, commitment, and passion was to care for her children. She would have had it no other way but to walk alongside her children in the loss of their dad. She was a trainer, a teacher, and mentor who demonstrated how to face life shifting, unexpected loss. Regretfully, she was unable to prepare your final exam but both she and your dad will be there every single day to urge you forward towards what comes next. They both make up the fabric of all of you, and who you are. God will bind up the wounds, and your mom and dad will be present in your mind and spirit, even in the pain.

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  22. Dear sweet girl, I do not know what God has in store for you, or how he will use you and your folks, but let me tell you, YOU are ministering to me through it. You have brought me to tears and to my knees.
    You are a beautiful and thoughtful writer. What gift and witness you are to us, your readers.
    Thank you for allowing us to share in your deepest grief. God bless you and sustain you and your family, true heart.

    Like

  23. Heather

    Jenn,

    My condolences and strength to you and your siblings and families. Your unwavering faith and hope will again comfort you and guide your path forward. I’m so very sorry for both losses in such close proximity.

    Like

  24. It is confusing and your curiosity is a wonderful thing. I saw and hugged your mom at Taco Cabana only hours before she left this realm to go join your dad… it leaves me wondering as well. None of it seems to make sense… but, I believe, in time, that some of it will. Peace that passes all understanding will be yours and there will be wisdom gained that you shall grow to cherish. My mom died when I was 25 years old- the course of my life was changed forever; I have to believe that goodness came from the loss. I wish you peace, love and eventually joy that fills your heart and soul.

    Like

  25. Carolyn Alsobrooks

    Dear Jenn,
    Last night Whitney called her dad to ask him “why” daddy, did this awful thing happen to Jenn and her family? Why did God do things the way HE did. Dad responded to her simply, “no one (human) knows the answer Whitney, There are some things known only to God. Deut. 29:29.We are ask to trust Him and believe that He is sovereign and in control even when we are confused and don’t understand and it looks out of control. We still must in faith, Trust that He will work all things out to the glory of the Father for the one that is called according to His purpose. We can’t begin to know how much you hurt right now, but our family is keeping you and your siblings in our hearts and prayers. Bless your heart with comfort and peace, only Jesus and His precious Holy Spirit can give. Love in Christ, Carolyn Alsobrooks. PS I thought the world of your sweet mommy! And your dad was truly a righteous man of God. I’m asking the Lord to fill your heart with the sweetest of memories of them both until we all see them again!

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  27. Katie

    Dear Jenn,

    I do not know you personally and I did not get the chance to know your parents. I live in a totally different part of the country but saw your blog posted as a comment in a FB news post and I just wanted to let you know how sorry I am for your loss and how beautiful this post was. Your strength is admirable and I hope and pray that my relationship with God continues to grow so that I may have the wisdom and grace that you carry. Your faith inspires me in a way that is difficult to explain, but God certainly has great plans for you. I will pray for you and your family through this difficult time. Take care, and God Bless.

    Like

  28. Noelle

    Dear Jenn, Hello, I do not know you but I’m so thankful that I found this blog through an online news organization. I wanted to tell you that I am so sorry for the loss of your parents. My heart goes out to you. And I also wanted to tell you Thank You because what you wrote ministered to me personally and helped me when I read it. May God always bless you in Jesus name. Amen. Thank you again.

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  33. kilo

    all is in you, ms jenn… your heart *is* g-d’s.

    you are instilling love & faith in many.

    your words already match the good works of your parents; such an honourable articulate task to remind others that ‘why’ is not the question, when we follow the tenet only of, ‘how do i serve?’

    may no anguish follow you…

    may your pains heal & your profound albeit much to soon understanding envelop your life in peace… always.

    Like

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