(Photo taken June 12, 2020 from our boat on Presque Isle Bay in Erie, Pa.)
All my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
. . .
I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
And in darkest night You are close like no other
I’ve known You as a Father
I’ve known You as a Friend
And I have lived in the goodness of God
(Goodness of God, Bethel Music 2019)
God has been so gentle with me this week. I don’t know exactly how to explain it other than He stayed. I have been fragile, so easy to come undone. Through all the upheaval of my emotions (anger, fear, confusion, frustration, sorrow, despair) and the constant heaviness weighing on my mind, He stayed. I grew up thinking that if I wasn’t good enough or committed a certain sin, God would leave. I grew up afraid I would be abandoned. But that simply is not true. He is the God who stays.
Last Saturday, we discovered Tony had a spot of pneumonia on one of his lungs and they wanted him tested for COVID-19. Thankfully, it was negative (🙌🏽😅), but we didn’t find that out until days later. I questioned God’s timing. I questioned whether He even liked me. I thought about giving up. I wore my “JESUS STRONG” shirt with Austin’s favorite verse (Philippians 4:13) in an attempt to preach truth to myself and I cried out “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!” (See Mark 9:24)
He stayed. He waited. He responded in love: “Yes, give up, Marie. Give up control.” If I would only take the next step, He would handle the outcomes. Would I trust Him when I didn’t like the outcomes He chose or allowed? Would I allow myself to feel the sorrow and fear of this world so that I could also experience true joy and hope eternal?
I braced myself for Thursday. In a way, I feel like I have been bracing myself since last June 25. As though on that day, I stepped off a boat which had been tossed by raging storms onto dry land again, but I couldn’t believe the storm was over. I have been afraid of the waves of grief and of losing again. Afraid still of being abandoned.
But God stayed. Through it all, He stayed.
And He was kind. More than once this past week, on the heaviest days, I came home to find notes and gifts in the mailbox from friends. God saw me. He knew my pain. And He wasn’t leaving.
Today, under the glorious shade of trees on a grassy lawn, after months of longing and absence, I stood to worship again with my church family. Of course I cried. Because God had been so gentle with my broken heart and I wanted to believe in His goodness again. It didn’t escape my memory that on this day last year, after another prolonged period of suffering and absence, on the day we celebrated a life and mourned a terrible loss, I stood then too and worshipped a God who conquered death.
The God who stays is also gentle and kind, not waiting to condemn me, not disapproving of my heartache and struggle, but longing to show mercy and to hold me through every fear and grief. 💛
I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”
Lamentations 3:20-24 NLT
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
Isaiah 30:18 ESV