This time last year I was on the front end of a very lonely, very frightening three and a half weeks.
Each morning began with a sixty minute drive in Los Angeles rush hour traffic toward the downtown courthouse. My husband and I parked and then walked through metal detectors and past guards down a long, long hall to the courtroom.
Every day was one more eight hour shift listening to lawyers, witnesses and a judge as the events of several years were laid out first by one side and then the other. Questions aimed to elicit unflattering responses hit my husband hard.
The opposing counsel even printed out a couple of my blog posts trying to frame both my husband and his family as intolerant fundamentalist evangelicals who certainly didn’t understand how things were done in the progressive West.
Our fate was in the hands of total strangers and the whole time I couldn’t utter a single word.
I was not allowed to nod my head, smile or frown or even cry when I watched my husband recount our son’s death and the toll it took on him as he returned to the workplace and tried to do routine tasks while being challenged repeatedly by a surly , vindictive and manipulative employee.
Trust me, no television courtroom drama can prepare a heart for the kind of stress, uncertainty, mental anguish and overwhelming fear that a real encounter with the justice system evokes.
Sitting alone (my husband was sitting with his attorneys) I could only spend time writing out scripture, taking notes and trying to guess how all this was impacting the twelve jurors sitting mere feet away. Only nine were required by California law to agree in order to reach a verdict which just added to the uncertainty.
I felt oh, so weary, scared and forgotten.
One of the scripture passages I wrote over and over was today’s verses.
27 Why, then, do you, Jacob, inheritors of God’s promise,
you, Israel, chosen of God—
Why do you say, “My troubled path is hidden from the Eternal;
God has lost all interest in My cause”?
28 Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?
The Eternal, the Everlasting God,
The Creator of the whole world, never gets tired or weary.
His wisdom is beyond understanding.
29 God strengthens the weary
and gives vitality to those worn down by age and care.
30 Young people will get tired;
strapping young men will stumble and fall.
31 But those who trust in the Eternal One will regain their strength.
They will soar on wings as eagles.
They will run—never winded, never weary.
They will walk—never tired, never faint.Isaiah 40: 27-31 VOICE
The nation of Israel was feeling lonely and all alone.
Had God forgotten? Had He abandoned them? Didn’t He care they were at their wit’s end and the limit of endurance?
So Jehovah sends Israel an encouraging Word through Isaiah.
He begins with questions: “Why are you questioning Jehovah’s interest in your cause? Do you think after all we’ve been through He’s forgotten you now? Can anything be hidden from His sight?”
As I sat day after day after day, I had to remind my heart that no matter how it FELT, God was very near. We were not abandoned. Whatever went on in that room with no windows was not hidden from our Shepherd King.
The very next set of questions Isaiah poses is one of my all time favorite verses: “Hey Israel! Do you really not know that God is eternal, everlasting, all-knowing and all-powerful? Haven’t you heard He made the earth and everything in it? Do you imagine He ever gets tired, worn out, too stretched to intervene in the affairs of men? “
This trial wasn’t the first time in my life I needed to be reminded that nothing is hidden from the Lord’s sight. It wasn’t the first time I needed reassurance that God is never too tired or too distracted or somehow limited by my understanding of who He is to reach down and give me a boost.
In the five years since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven I’ve had days, weeks and even months when, in my despair and grief, I forgot the truth.
The whole passage comes to a dramatic conclusion that leaves Israel (and me!) with no room for doubt.
“Hey-God breathed into Adam and made a living man from dust. Sure, you may be tired and worn out from circumstances or age, but He can breathe life and vigor back into you too. Young folks seem nearly invincible but even they have limits. You just wait (expectantly, in faith, certain that He will show up and keep His promises) on Him. The kind of energy Jehovah will give you won’t run out. You’ll be like an eagle soaring effortlessly on wind currents higher and higher and higher.”
I’m here to tell you that God keeps His promises. His Word is sure.
I look back on those three weeks and stand amazed that I didn’t fall over from exhaustion and stress about five or six days in because except for surviving my son’s death, it was the hardest thing I ever did.
It was absolutely, positively God’s strength and not my own.
- I know most of my readers are bereaved parents and probably share my testimony of days, weeks, months of utter exhaustion under the load of grief that child loss dumps on a heart. Can you identify a specific moment when you felt God’s strength poured into your spirit? Can you think of an event, holiday or date you just knew you couldn’t face but somehow managed to survive?
- How can meditating on these verses help your heart hold onto hope?
- What new insight does including verses 27-28 to this familiar passage give you?
- Consider looking these verses up in at least three different translations/paraphrases and compare them. Does that help you understand them better? Why or why not?
Father God, I want to always remember that You are so much more than I can ever imagine or comprehend. Too often I try to circumscribe You by my limited understanding of how you work in the world. But You are too big for any box I try to stuff You into.
When I forget, remind me. When I doubt, strengthen my faith. When I feel alone, make Your Presence undeniably real to me. When I am weary, breathe new life into my spirit.
Thank You for patiently, graciously, mercifully dealing with me. Thank You for your everlasting, faithful love. You are a good, good Father.
*If you want more details about what happened last year, you can find it here: https://thelifeididntchoose.com/2018/08/24/heres-the-post-ive-wanted-to-write-but-couldnt/
9 thoughts on “Scripture Journal Challenge: When My Heart Needs a Reminder”
“…no television courtroom drama can prepare a heart for the kind of stress, uncertainty, mental anguish and overwhelming fear that a real encounter with the justice system evokes.” You forgot the labeling. To them it’s a game.
To us, it’s our lives on trial.
My daughter died what seems like three lifetimes ago. Because I was the driver in a rollover with three small children, and because he threatened that if I ever hurt one of his children, he’d hunt me down like a dog and my family would never find the pieces, he sued me for her death. That led to 15 years of being stalked thru the courts, including a custody battle for the two remaining children. The Judge said (off the record) that he ruled against me because it was obvious I was a Christian, and he hated Christians. They were removed from their Christian school, and lived with their father for 4 years, 8 months, and 3 days. Six cases of physical abuse turned in by teachers on this father were reported to Human Services, but it takes a box of bones and bucket of blood to reverse sole custody. The case would eventually wind up in the Supreme Court of CO (twice to the Appellate, and numerous District Court cases). Last time I counted, there were a total of 24 lawsuits. I only initiated one; a divorce from him. The scars from those years have never been completely healed. And you cannot deal with your grief when every move is being watched and judged by Court. Thank you for the reminder that God keeps His promises, and His word is sure!! You cannot imagine how it was needed today!! Linda in CO
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I am so very sorry for this protracted and horrible additional stress and pain! I’m thankful the post spoke grace and hope to your heart. Obviously my experience was much less traumatic and short, but I completely identify with what you’ve had to face over and over. May the Lord continue to strengthen you for whatever a new day brings and may He whisper courage and hope to your heart. ❤
Somehow, fifteen plus months ago, Facebook algorithms connected me with you. And I thank God for you and this blog! This had been a lifeline for me every single day. Not a journey any of us want to be on, but thank you Jesus that we aren’t alone!!
He sees, He knows, He loves, AND He is taking all things for good. I’m not really sure how, but I will move forward trusting. It’s hard enough without Rachel, I won’t let go of my faith.
Thankful that that part of your story is finished and had a good outcome.
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I’m thankful FB did that as well! I rarely know how people end up here and love to hear the stories. I’m so sorry that we share the pain of missing a child of our hearts. I pray that the Lord continues to give you what you need for each new day and I know He will honor your commitment to hold onto the hem of His garment. May He overwhelm you with His love, grace and mercy and may He whisper, “Courage, My child” to your heart. ❤
Just this past week I was reminded of the great strength that God fills us with. I lost my son 2 and half years ago. He was 17 and was killed in a car accident. One of my very dear friends and coworker let me talk all I needed. She gave comfort and strength. I have been so grateful for her. One week ago her 19 year old son was killed in a car accident, the funeral was Wednesday. I don’t do funerals anymore. I just can’t, but I knew that I had to be there for her. Not because I owed her, but because I knew. I understood and I have gotten through each day, some in bed, with my faith. I knew all of the ugliness of losing a child. The night before the funeral I asked my friends and prayer warriors to pray for me. That I may be able to be strong for her and not let her worry about me. She tried. God gave me the strength to be strong and give her comfort without fearing she was hurting me. I can’t even tell you how I felt. I cry and fall apart at the most inopportune times, but I didn’t that day. I know that God heard our prayers and gave me the courage and strength. He is an awesome God.
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Thank you for sharing this testimony of God’s faithful working in and through you. What a beautiful and valuable gift you gave to your friend! I don’t really do funerals either (only for a few close friends in these past 5 years). That was courageous and grace-filled and awesome for you to reach out and choose to be there for her. May the Lord continue to give you strength and courage as you minister hope to her. May He wrap His loving arms around you both and carry you when you are certain you don’t have the strength to go on. ❤
Oh Melanie…having joined this “lifeIdidntchoose” only 3 1/2 months ago, I am so very sorry for the added suffering that you and your dear husband were put through in the courts…God blesses countless grieving souls through you and I pray that He generously lavishes His love & grace upon you & yours💝 I don’t know that I could have made it until today without your words which I eagerly devour like dark Belgian chocolates each day for the last 3 months😢 As you know, some days are worse than others, but as I live each day missing Ryan more than the day before but less than all the tomorrows, I long to be like you, finding my strength in & outside of my loss. I want to be like you, Melanie, and I long to be like Jesus! Thank you so much…so very much💝
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Thank you Pamela, for the kind and encouraging words. If there is any faith in my heart, any strength in my bones, any hope in my soul, it is the grace, mercy and kindness of our Faithful Father and Loving Shepherd Who put them there. I was a puddle when Dominic left. There was a moment just before the first visitation when we were praying with our pastor and others in a circle. I don’t come from a kneeling tradition church but I was compelled to drop to my knees right then. When he finished praying all I could say was, ‘I’m in the dust and dust is my food”-like Job. It’s a process to work through the pain and loss and all the feelings that bombard a heart in child loss. But God is faithful and He will walk with you. I pray you feel His Presence every single day and that He gives you the strength you need for this journey. ❤