This is a picture of me being goofy at our family reunion last summer. The question I get asked most often is, “how do you do it?” You see, at this reunion we would be missing my brother, Jeff, who died in a car accident in 1989, when he was 23. And, more recently, in 2008, Devin and I lost our son, Austin, to strep throat. On a Tuesday in April, Austin was diagnosed with strep throat. Just three days later, on Friday, he was found not breathing in his bunk bed. Nothing the EMS team nor the ER team tried worked to revive him. Austin died so suddenly and shockingly.
But, here I am at the family reunion with smiles and laughter. If I’m honest, I dreaded the whole thing. Like I do most family gatherings. Like I do when we sit at the dinner table and one of our chairs is empty when it was so filled with life at one time. Life without Austin just hurts so much. But… but what could make me so joyful?
The answer is: even though life threw us a sucker punch, I choose to believe in the goodness of God. I choose to believe that what it says in the Bible is true. I choose to believe that God will keep His promises. I choose to believe that God loves me and is using this sucker punch for a good reason.
If you’ve been hit with a sucker punch, you could choose to focus on the pain. You could choose to dwell on how unfair your sucker punch was in your life. You could choose to allow your heart to become bitter towards God and others who seem to sail through life without many trials. You could choose…
Or, you can do what I did. I picked up my Bible for answers. I asked God to explain this to me. Actually, I probably shouted and stomped my foot at Him to explain THIS to me! Or, sometimes, I curled up in a ball on the floor and cried out to Him to please tell me how to make this hurt less.
His voice didn’t boom down like thunder from Heaven. Instead, I felt His answer in my heart when I read this Scripture:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:4-7
Whatever sucker punch you are facing, if you read these verses part by part, you can find a way to pick yourself up off the floor. But first, you have to choose to believe these verses are true. You must have faith in God. I know ~ you’re not sure there is a God right now. Or ~ you’re not sure that God loves you. I know. But… you must choose. You can stay curled up in the pain and doubt and fear. Or, you can choose to believe that God is good and that He keeps His promises.
3 Ideas to Help You Choose to Believe God is Good:
- Read the Psalms. The man who wrote most of the Psalms faced many sucker punches. In the Psalms, David often starts by crying out to God about his pain. But then, David usually ends by turning his heart towards praising God. “Rejoice in the Lord always!”
- Take a walk. Or sit outside in a pretty spot. Look at nature and let it remind you that God cares for everything. Unless you believe in evolution, then you believe that God created this earth and is keeping His promise to never flood it again (see what I call the “rainbow promise” in Genesis 9:8-17); As I walk outside, I am forced to admit that God keeps His promises.
- Ask God to make you feel differently. I ask God regularly to take some of the hurt away because I simply can’t bear it. I ask God to “press His finger” on the spot in my soul that hurts so badly. I say this verse: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” ~ Psalm 34:18. I ask Him to keep this promise and be close to me and save me from the pain of losing a child. Because I usually DO feel better after I ask for His healing, it helps me to remain steadfast in my belief that God is good.
Let’s talk about it:
What sucker punch are you facing?
Are you able to believe that God is good?
How do you go on living a joyful life? Give us some ideas!