When I was 13, my life changed forever. This is my story. I originally posted this in 2012, but I’ve updated it and wanted to share it again. I hope, somehow, by sharing this, that it may encourage someone or help you in some way, if and when tragedy strikes your life. This is Part 2: When Faith Wins. To read Part 1, click here.
DEALING WITH THE PAIN
After the accident and Dad’s death, I spent the next several weeks and months questioning God and asking WHY.
After a couple weeks, I went back to school, but it was very challenging to try to get back to “normal life.” Many days were filled with tears, and I also heard all the cliches that people say when something like this happens.
- “I know how you feel”
- “God will never give you more than you can handle”
- “Everything will be okay”
Please, whatever you do, don’t say those things to someone who has just lost a loved one or gone through some other traumatic life event.
QUESTIONING MY FAITH
I had grown up always having faith in God, being raised in church and surrounded by family members who were strong believers in Christ. However, this time in my life truly tested my faith. I had to decide if I was going to actually trust in a God who would (in my eyes) take away my father.
Was I going to believe that He was still a good God?
Or was I going to reject all I had ever believed, and turn to other things?
Thankfully, and only by the grace of God, I chose to cling to Jesus instead of reject him. I chose to cling to my faith instead of becoming bitter and angry. Don’t get me wrong, I did go through a period of anger, but I didn’t stay there.
I truly believe God provided comfort on the days that were unbearable, peace during the times that felt overwhelming, and surrounded our family with love when we felt lonely.
Friends and family supported us and held us up in prayer and many other ways. For that I will always be thankful.
FINDING ANSWERSFast forward to today. I spent the past weekend at our church’s women’s retreat, which was incredibly powerful and reminded me once again of how much God loves each and every one of us.
On the way home, the 4 of us who rode together and roomed together were discussing various challenges in our lives, and how we often ask “Why” and even become angry with God. And I completely relate to that, obviously, because I went through it myself.
Then last night, I was reading John 9, and I came across this passage:
“As he went along, he saw a blind man from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned’, said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.'” (vs. 1-3)
Basically, the disciples were asking WHY? Why is this man blind?
We are so often looking for the reason bad things happen – whose fault was it? And Jesus blows me away with his response: “so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
If you keep reading the story, Jesus chooses to heal the blind man. He did not choose to heal my dad. He chose to heal someone else I knew who experienced a serious accident about a year later. But he did not choose to heal my 14 year old friend who died in a snowmobile accident that same year.
- I don’t know WHY some get healed and some don’t.
- I don’t know why some people can have 6 kids yet abuse them and hurt them, while others who are loving, amazing people can’t get pregnant.
- I don’t know why children are abused or senseless acts of violence take place.
But ultimately, I believe this: if we allow Him to, God will use these challenges and tragedies to display His work in our lives. He will bring things to us that are even better than what we are hoping for or wanting. In the end, if we turn to Him, faith wins.
[bctt tweet= “If we allow Him to, God will use challenges and tragedies to display His work in our lives.”]
Losing my dad was a turning point in my life. It forced me to choose whether I was going to rely on myself or God.
I don’t know how my life would be different if Dad had never died. But I believe that going through that has allowed me to be open to God using my life for His glory. I am in no way perfect, and I’ve messed up royally multiple times. But my prayer is that the “work of God” will be displayed in my life.
So for anyone who also has experienced loss, anger, pain beyond belief, questioning God – take heart – you are not alone. Even the disciples questioned Jesus on a regular basis.
God is not afraid of the questions.
But when the disciples questioned him, Jesus provided the answer, and He also ended up giving the blind man way more than he could have ever imagined!
That is what God has done for me as well, and He can do it for you, too.
Oh Esther, you probably don’t remember me. I used to babysit you when you were about 3 and you were all living in PA. Your dad was our Principal at Muir Christian Academy. He was a wonderful man, I remember the day we received the word that he passed away. It was hard on all of us because we all had such great memories of your family when you were in PA. I remember thinking about you and your sister but I also remember thinking your dad was in a better place and that with your mom, wonderful family and God you would all be ok. I never heard the whole story and I am in awe. I think about all of you often and pray for all of you. Your family was truly a blessing in my life and I am so glad I was able to get to know you even if it was only for a short time.
Thank you Stacy. I appreciate you sharing your memories too.
Well, one thing is for sure – the “work of God” is most definitely displayed in your life!! I so appreciate you sharing this. It encouraged my heart. ((hug)) You’re an awesome woman of faith, Esther!
Thank you Chantelle! So glad it encouraged you.
Esther – I cannot imagine losing my dad at an age like you did. You know I lost my Jeff last June, and I have good days and bad days. Thank You for sharing your story – it will give people hope and the fact that they can totally trust God to get them through anything – if they only let him. My faith has played a huge part in being with Jeff and taking care of him until he died. I don’t know if your mom told you, but we met 30 years ago at Summer Camp at a bible conference. Circumstances separated us, and then God brought us back together for Jeff’s last couple of years. And while I may feel the loss of being alone and missing Jeff so much I sometimes cannot breathe, I wouldn’t change anything in my life concerning Jeff – God had it all planned it out, and as usual, couldn’t ask for anything better. I am looking forward to see what God brings me next!
Liz, I will be praying for you as you continue to go through the journey of healing after a loss. I can’t imagine losing my husband and I am sure there are very lonely days. Hugs & prayers.
Thank you!! Your mom has been a great help..
Esther, I am one of those people who has never heard your story. Thank you for sharing your pain and the hope you have found consistently in the unchanging love and wisdom of your Creator! I love it when God speaks directly to me through scripture, a song, a friend, creation or however He chooses. So wonderful that He gave you that verse after all these years. Blessings! –Brenda
Brenda, yes it was quite amazing that I had never made that connection with that verse. It wasn’t necessarily that I did anything wrong or even that my dad did something wrong that caused his early death – but hopefully those of us left behind can display his work in our lives!
Esther, thank you a thousand times over for sharing as you have. Yes, the “work of God” is being diplayed in you’re life and will be all the more by your sharing this. As I read what you have so beauifully expressed God brought to mind severel woman I will be asking to read this as know it will help them with what they are going through.
Thank you for your transparency, vulnerability and honesty. To God be the Glory!!
You are welcome! Feel free to share with anyone who you think might be encouraged by it!
Thanks for sharing, there are so many things about people we don’t even know about, but God knows and uses all of it 🙂
Thank you Lynne – you are welcome.
Your grandma sent me an e-mail relative to your Dad. We well remember receiving a phone call telling us of the accident. God has indeed blessed you and Naomi as you are both wonderful young women and beautiful Christians. God is faithful! I remember when my mother died the year I graduated from high school. I was in PI working at my first job and your Grandma called me at 5:00 a.m. to tell me. Three co-workers drove me home to Easton. I was so naive I didn’t realize she was going to die from cancer. Our neighbor, Marie Flewelling, took Mom and me to Presquie Isle for my interview a month prior to her death. God bless you and may I say you are an excellent writer. What a difficult task it must have been for you. Love, Great aunt Joyce
Thanks Aunt Joyce for your thoughts. I do love writing. Losing a parent early is such a life changing experience – I didn’t realize that was how you and Gram lost your mother.
Oh Esther, I can relate with you. Tiff loved your dad so. Loved the white water rafting
Trips. We was talking about him the day she was killed. How ironic. Then when we were looking at the lots rip bury her, to have the lot right beside him empty it was comforting to have her next to him. I’m sure they make a great pair in heaven!
Cheryl, I can’t wait to see Tiff AND Dad again in heaven. They are probably having way more fun than us right now!
Esther I am amazed at what a strong person you are, and in my eyes always have been. I feel God in part called Amanda and I to CCOD, because of you and Scott being there. I am encouraged reguarly by the faith of you two. Thank you again for sharing your story with others.
Nate, you are too kind. I have to say that I am SO thankful that God brought you and Amanda back to Him, and to CCOD. It is amazing to see what God has done, and I know He’s got so much more planned for us all in the future.
This is such a beautiful testament to the why’s we meet in life. I’m so thankful you were able to turn to God and realize that He is still good despite the bad things that may happen in life. Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story. Many hugs and blessings to you.
Thanks Kristen, for your kind comment! I am so grateful for God’s faithfulness through all of the challenges we experience in life.
Thanks for sharing, Esther. The work of God is certainly being displayed in your life.
Thank you Denise! That means a lot.
In Oct 2021 my 17 year old nephew was gunned down in a senseless murder. In 2005 I lose my husband after being
Married for 3 years. Both times I questioned God. When I was 16 I lost my daddy. I questioned God than too. Oddly enough in 2017 after my mom passed I understood. Over the years my faith increased and I accepted Gods will. I know it’s ok to ask“why” because God will answer us. After losing my nephew I did ask why, and God reminded me that it’s ok to as “why” and as always He provided me the answers. Thank you for sharing your faith is inspiring. God bless