I’ve been wrecked. Twice. The second wrecking was a result of the first. Both involve loss, yet I now consider the second loss as gain. This is my story of having been wrecked.
My twelve-year-old son, Andrew, passed from this life to the next in 2009. Before then, I thought I had learned who God is and what to expect from Him. Before our world was rocked by the diagnosis of Stage 4 brain cancer and Andrew’s death, I thought I had some answers.
Afterwards, I found I only had one—and the one has proved to be enough for me.
However when I was faced with the very opposite outcome of what our family had hoped and prayed, I felt greatly disappointed.
Disappointed with God? Yes. I remember receiving an email from an acquaintance who had prayed for our son. She seemed to have many questions of her own and wrote, “…but God does not disappoint.”
I remember thinking, You feel that way because it was not your child who suffered and died. I wrote back to her, “I feel very disappointed.”
Months later I received a copy of Philip Yancey’s book, Disappointment with God. I dove head and heart first into the text. Yancey dealt with the questions that few people voice aloud:
- Is God unfair?
- Is God silent?
- Is God hidden?
These questions were the very painful crux of what I shared with many others who had also faced hurricane level storms in their personal lives. Yancey writes, “True atheists do not, I presume, feel disappointed in God. They expect nothing and receive nothing. But those who commit their lives to God, no matter what, instinctively expect something in return.”
As the overwhelming heaviness of living without Andrew lifted enough for me to venture outside my door, I hit the pavement in my neighborhood.
Each evening, I laced up my running shoes and ran in the dark. Weaving up and down, I always avoided one particular spot. There were too many painful images associated with the top of our street. Andrew had spent hours playing outside with his friends who lived just a few houses up from ours.
Those evenings under the inky sky, I put my heart on the line with God: “I don’t understand you. You are not who I thought You were. I’m mad, sad, hurt and confused but I’m not leaving you.”
Painful emotions and questions welled up within me:
- “Losing my son is unfair.”
- “God, why can’t I hear from You?”
- “Where are You in this?”
Night after night I ran. Night after night I scanned the indigo sky. I showed up before God in running clothes and damp hair from the sweat that dripped while running in Florida’s humidity.
Often as I ran, there was still a bit of sunset. Brilliant corals, azure blue and peacock purple decorated the western edge of sky. I talked to God and I talked to Andrew. But it was always a one-sided conversation.
Until one night.
Oswald Chambers writes in My Utmost for His Highest,
It is not true to say that God wants to teach us something in our trials: through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unlearn something.
One night I was almost at the end of my run and was nearing home. It had been months since I had offered God my praise.
But that night a passage from the words of Jesus Christ to His “doubting disciple” welled up in my heart, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29 NIV). In response I slowed my pace and lifted one hand…and then the other. Both hands upraised, I stopped in my tracks.
God was no longer silent. No longer hidden.
Before the trial…before the “cloud,” I thought I had learned who God was. In the dark cover of night, I was unlearning. My hands lifted to the sky and my tears intermingled with sweat.
I whispered to God, “I was right. You are not who I thought You were. You are more.”
About the author: Melanie Dorsey is an inspirational speaker and writer with the heart of a teacher. You can follow her on her blog.