My summer started with all the normal things—volleyball practice, church activities, babysitting, etc. School had wormed its way in also—which I’m sure many fellow homeschoolers can relate to. There was also a job, a mission trip, and a YoungLife camp. Yes, it would be a busy summer, and I would be a little stressed. But I thought I could handle it.
But then grief burst in.
Three days before leaving for my mission trip, a childhood friend passed away. I was left broken and devastated.
However, God worked on my heart through it all. Here’s four truths I walked away with:
1. Things don’t always go according to plan.
I definitely did not plan to deal with the fallout of losing a friend. I didn’t plan for a summer where it was often hard to function because I was wrestling with grief and difficult questions about God’s goodness.
But God’s plans are not my plans, and that’s ok—it’s good, actually. I don’t have to understand.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)
2. Hurting isn’t an excuse to disappear.
I was broken, and I wanted to quit everything. I didn’t want to go on my mission trip; I didn’t want to work; and to be fully honest, I didn’t even want to leave my house.
I just wanted to curl into a ball and focus on me.
I felt like I was worlds away from what was happening. It seemed like I was moving in slow motion, while the world around me started moving faster and faster. I was terrified to stop because I didn’t think I would be able to start again, but it also felt like the my breath was being sucked out of me and all I wanted was to stop.
But life doesn’t let you stop. So three days after losing my friend, I flew to Jamaica, where I had to focus on the people around me, whether they were my youth group or the kids at the deaf school–no matter how much I was hurting. And honestly? That was so good for me. It kept me from getting lost in my own grief.
The Bible doesn’t say just to care for others when it’s easy. It says to care for others when it’s hard and hurts you–because that’s what Jesus did for us.
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Philippians 2:3)
At the same time, however, we have to remember that the Bible does give permission to grieve. Jesus grieved Lazarus (John 11:35), although he knew he would raise him back to life, and it says that there is a time for mourning (Ecclesiastes 3:4). You have to find a balance between caring for others while also caring for yourself, which is so hard to do. Walling off your grief is won’t help–but neither will walling off yourself in your grief.
3. You need people who love and support you
When I felt like everything was falling apart, I needed friends who loved me and would remind me that God was in control. I had amazing support in my youth group, and people like my Young Life leader were there to answer my questions and doubts.
Without strong Christian friends and mentors constantly pointing me back to the Lord, I don’t know how I would have made it through this. Every time my doubts started to overwhelm me, they would remind of the truth of Christ and what the Bible says about my situation.
Try to find people—whether it’s one person or ten—who will be there, ready to point you to the Lord, when you’re going through hard times.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
4. No matter what, God ALWAYS has a plan.
When my friend died, I couldn’t see how God could make any good come of it. Now, my greatest comfort is knowing my friend in the presence of our Savior. God has worked through this tragedy on earth as well, however. My friend’s testimony in death was enough to plant the seed of the Gospel in the hearts of many of his friends, and some have now professed faith in Christ. Even people who were already believers have grown in faith as they went through this, myself included.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
This summer I was reminded of my weakness and the brokenness of this world. But it also reminded me that God often works best in our hardest moments.This summer I was reminded of my weakness and the brokenness of this world. But it also reminded me that God often works best in our hardest moments. Click To Tweet
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in all weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)