"I've been walking in the dark for a number of years now.
I began this shadowed journey on August 1. 2005, when my youngest granddaughter, Ava, died in her bed at home. I was there when my daughter, Shelly, ran screaming down the stairs with her baby's lifeless body in her arms. I watched in shock as Shelly performed CPR with no results. I couldn't pray real words. I could only keep whispering, "O Jesus, O Jesus," in an effort to call on Him in this time of horror. When the emergency personnel told us there was no hope, I held my daughter, sitting on her front lawn in the deep summer heat, as she cried for her baby.
Despair was my enemy.
That day began a walk in darkness for me as a grandmother. I groped my way through those first days and months. My grief was two-pronged: I grieved for Ava as my precious, youngest grandchild, but I also grieved for my daughter and her husband and the sorrow that they faced at the loss of their little girl. Despair was my enemy, and he set up camp in the hole Ava's death had left in my heart.
Comfort in Scripture.
In those early days I hung on to every word of comfort in Scripture as a lifeline. As I read, I began to realize how
different my approach to life was from the men and women in the Bible. I took a good life as my due, as appropriate and suitable for me as a believer. I wouldn't have voiced it, but I lived as if I deserved ease and comfort. When something bad happened, I had to try and figure out why. Who caused this tragedy? God? Satan? Sinful forces in a broken world? The faithful in the Bible didn't seem to have that same outlook on life. They appeared to be more willing to take the good and the bad as natural parts of life on earth.
David, especially as expressed in the Psalms, took life's difficulties, ranted and raved about them, and then turned to God for comfort and strength, leaving the questioning, the whys and the wherefores behind. He continued to trust God in the middle of life's problems.
As time went on, I began to realize that any answer I could find to my questions wouldn't satisfy.
Even if I had some divine revelation of why Ava had died, I would still grieve, still think it wasn't fair, still go through life broken by my loss. So, like David, I began to turn to God for comfort and strength to face the day rather than search out all the answers. I prayed that God would do what I promised I would allow Him to do. At Ava's funeral, standing near her tiny white casket on that windy August day, I spoke these words:
"Now that you are gone, nothing will ever be the same. We will never be the same. We are being changed, pruned, but still loved by our sovereign God. We offer up ourselves to God to accomplish His work in us."
I Hang on to God's hand.
I'm still walking in the dark. I cling desperately to God's hand in an effort to make my way in an Ava-less world, a world I no longer recognize. And as I hang on to God's hand, I ask Him to redeem this terrible event by redeeming me. I ask Him to use the grief and pain and fear to change me, to make me less like myself and more like Him. The old me is slipping away more and more each day, being replaced by a new me that knows without a doubt that I can rely on God. And the darkness isn't quite so terrifying as I learn to trust that God is there, even when life doesn't make sense, even when the worst nightmare a grandmother could dream turns out to be a reality.
So often when our lives spin out of control - at least from our viewpoint - we think that God is to blame and that we somehow should be spared such agony. But the One who gave
His only Son up to an agony worse than we have ever known reaches His hand down to take ours and lead us through the darkness. He doesn't always give the answers we desire. He doesn't always change our circumstances as we may wish.
He turns out the lights in order to teach us that gripping His hand on our journey, that trusting in Him, is better than any light."