Unexpected Devastation

After three months of mourning and trying to get past the loss of my mother-in-law, we were unexpectedly struck by another devastating tragedy. On Labor Day, Monday 2 September 2013, Wes' cousin Joel was killed in a work related accident. Joel was a fellow cowboy on Palomar Mountain, and was running a successful cattle company. Joel was only 30-years-old, and leaves behind his wife, and three young children. It's been two days, and we are still struggling to wrap our minds around this tragedy; it is still so surreal and unbelievable. Joel was a huge part of the mountain community, and had made many friends over time. His loss has hit us all hard, but worst of all, for his wife, children and parents. Joel truly was an amazing person. I hadn't known him for very long before I loved him. It was difficult not to love Joel.

It is so hard to find the right words that might offer some small sense of comfort to the suffering loved ones that he has left behind. It is a different situation to overcome because I am not as directly affected by this loss as I was with Sharon. How can I find the right words and verses to share, to offer comfort and preach about trust in God, to the upset loved ones who cannot understand why this has happened? I've heard many times over the past couple of days, from multiple people, that this is not fair. I understand, and I agree, that this is not fair. But life is not fair; it never has been, and it never will be. God never promised to make all circumstances in our lives fair. I shared a quote after Sharon passed away, that I will share again.

"God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, or sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it..."

We were not promised perfect days in this life here on earth. God will allow us to suffer through trial and tribulation because He has a purpose behind it. During the most difficult times, we cannot see God's plan beyond our pain, and sometimes we never can fully understand why He allows certain tragedies to befall us. But we can always count on His strength, presence and comfort to help us through our challenges.

Don't be afraid, for I am with you. Don't be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

There are many loved ones suffering from this tragedy, and I don't know which of them can find comfort in their faith, or which of them turn bitterly away from Him. I don't know how anyone can survive this type of pain without having trust in the Lord; I've only managed to survive the many tragic losses in my life because I held on to my God with both hands and have never let go. I worry for many of those who are suffering right now, because devastation like this a life-challenging experience to overcome. In some circumstances, it is a make-it or break-it situation when faith is concerned. Some will turn into the arms of God and seek solace from Him, where others will turn away bitterly and curse Him. It comes back to the comment of how unfair this is. The unfairness of this situation will take hold of some, embitter them to the point of questioning God: "How can a God, who is supposed to love us, allow this kind of tragedy to befall us?" God allows this kind of tragedy to befall us because He has a plan for our lives. Sometimes that plan will take us in directions that we don't wish to go. But God's plan for our lives is better than anything we could possibly plan for our lives. In circumstances such as these, that statement seems unbelievable. God has a plan for this, and we can not fathom it; and in all honesty, in this moment and this pain, we do not like it. But He has a plan, and we have to trust in Him.

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

I'm afraid that many of those who are suffering will not be able to understand that God has a plan for this, and that again, the unfairness of this situation will continue to overwhelm them. Again, they might question Him: "How can I believe in a God who allows us to suffer like this? If He loves us, He wouldn't let us suffer like this." Even though I do not like the plans that God has had for my life this year, involving the deaths of two of my loved ones, I will still put my faith and trust in Him because He loves me, and wants the best for me. That does not mean the best that this earthly life has to offer; that does not mean a perfect, blessing-filled, tragic-less life. This life on earth is not the best of what He wants to offer me. He wants to give me the best by forgiving my sins, and giving me a glorious, eternal life in heaven with Him. By any and all standards of this life, that is the ultimate and best gift that God could give me. A happy, peaceful, painless eternity with God, my heavenly father, and with all of my loved ones who have and will go before me. I don't like some of the trials that I've faced in this life; I've lost way too many loved ones, and I'm only 26-years-old. How much more pain and loss will I have to face before it's my time to go to heaven? How many more trials and struggles will I have to endure? How many more tears will I shed, and how much more heartache will I have to bear? I don't know, and honestly, I'm terrified. The pain of losing so many loved ones has broken my heart time and time again. I'm afraid to go through it again, yet I know that it is inevitable, because everyone eventually dies. But . . . I will find the strength to endure any and all loss that my life has to offer, because I know that it is a temporary pain. And with my trust and faith in God, I know that I have a place in heaven. I have a heavenly reward that is awaiting me; and many family and friends that I look forward to spending eternity with. I believe in my God, who allows me to suffer unimaginable pain, because He does love me, and He suffered so that I might have a place with Him in heaven. God suffered greatly, because He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for us, to forgive us of our sins. God loves us so much, that He allowed His Son to suffer and die, so that we may be granted a place in eternity with Him. How many people in this world would be willing, or able, to sacrifice their precious child, for sinful people? Some of whom don't want the love or sacrifice that is offered? I'm not a parent yet, but I can guarantee that I couldn't do that. Yet God did, for each and every one of us. Because we are His children. He created us, and loves each and every one of us, as undeserving as we may be. And He wants nothing but the best for us; an eternity of peace, and love, in heaven with Him.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:1, 26-27)

The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world...Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God - children born not of natural descent, nor of human descent or a husband's will, but born of God. (John 1:9,12-13)

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9-11)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:16-17)

With the loss of Joel, we feel as if we have been propelled backward in our mourning, now forced to suffer through the grieving process all over again. This will not be an easy obstacle to overcome. But I hope that many of those who are suffering will find faith, and comfort in the Lord. With our trust firmly planted in the Lord, we can make it through anything. He is our rock during this storm, He is our light in this darkness. We need to seek him, place our whole-hearted trust in Him, and He will lead us through it. As I said before, this will not be easy to overcome. Putting our trust in the Lord and seeking comfort from Him does not mean that we will be instantly, or even quickly healed. But God's presence will be felt in our lives, and He will help to make this pain bearable. I pray for the strength, wisdom and ability to offer comfort and love to Joel's family and friends. Help me to know the words to speak, and what prayers to pray that will help them all to overcome this. This family needs abundant love, prayers and support in order to be able to survive this. I pray that they will feel God's presence in their lives, that they will embrace the comfort that He offers, and that they will find the strength that they need. Help them to know God's love, and the love offered by family and friends. In this life we will face unimaginable tragedies, but we can overcome anything when God is on our side, by trusting in Him and by taking it step by step, each moment of each day.

Faith it does not make things easy, it makes them possible. (Luke 1:37)

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. (Psalm 55:17)

They should always pray and not give up. (Luke 18:1)

I will trust and not be afraid. (Isaiah 12:2)

In his Word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:5)

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father . . . encourage your hearts and strengthen you. ( 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)


I Love Jeremiah 29:11
My heart aches for all of Joel's family. We can trust in Him. He has a plan and we can rest in that assurance. I am praying much for Joel's family. Our youngest is 31 and I can't imagine how hard it would be to lose one so young.Even in this tragic loss I pray hearts will be turned to trust In The Lord.
The Desert Rose said…
Very wise words
. Sara you living out the scriptures!
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV).

My heart aches for your family. Will continue to pray
Bob Gonsett, Fallbrook said…

During one particularly dark hour, I stumbled across a PBS-TV show about the making of top quality samurai swords. Wow. That was me...not the maker of the swords but the metal being repeatedly heater, hammered and shaped by my maker. Being the metal was anything but pleasant at the time, but now looking back I understand that I was being strengthened and transformed for some yet unknown reason:

"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Cor. 13:12 KJV.

Give the present situation time to heal. Keep your hands busy spinning thread and your fingers twisting fiber. You are loved by many and do not walk alone.