It has been five months of intense emotional lows that have taken me to depths of despair that I never knew could exist. It has been five months of agonizing over the events that placed me in a hospice facility room looking down at the lifeless body of my precious daughter. It has been five months of searching for answers to questions that seemingly have no answers. It has been five months of tears that flow uncontrollably as images of my daughter pass through my mind.
Each night before I fall asleep I think about Jamie and my eyes well up with tears. Each morning I awake hoping beyond hope that I have just experienced the worst nightmare of my life and it was all just a dream. Each morning I experience the disappointment of realizing it was not a dream – it was real. The reality is my daughter died and I will never see her again in this life.
It has been five months. I thought by now it would have gotten better. However, for me it has gotten harder. It seems the passing of time only makes it more real.
I can only bring Jamie’s image into my mind for a short time before being overcome with emotion and tears. I still see her alive and enjoying life to the fullest and then reality quickly sets in and sadness overtakes me. I visit with her memory multiple times every day but I can’t stay very long. The pain is too great. The loss is too real. The emotional ache of my broken heart is too much to bear. And so I must direct my mind to something else until I can summon up enough strength to go through the process again later on.
The reality of my daughter’s death has settled in and feelings of despair routinely invade my consciousness. Elusive feelings of joy and sporadic efforts to find motivation always seem to be just out of reach. It has been five months and I find myself still just going through the motions and summoning up just enough energy to perform the next task at hand. The amputation of my daughter from my life and from my future stares me in the face producing images of painful separation. I constantly reach out to experience what once was a beautiful relationship with a vibrant and beautiful daughter but I come up empty as reality bombards me with the fact that physical attachment will be no more.
A Moment That Changed My Life Forever
We all experience moments in our lives we will never forget. In the past year I have experienced quite a few. Some are powerful, inspirational and amazing while others are heart breaking and nearly incapacitating. Each moment has changed the course of my life forever.
One of those moments occurred while sitting in my recliner in my den. It was a normal day in March 2010. I was home after a long day at work. My wife was sitting in the other recliner waiting for me to finish eating. There was no hint that anything was wrong. When I finished eating she muted the TV. She then told me she had received a telephone call from Jamie’s doctor. Jamie had been having mysterious health problems for several months so I expected to hear a diagnosis but I was not prepared to hear the diagnosis she shared with me. My wife Heidi said, “Jamie has been diagnosed with Myelodysplasia. Before I could even ask what that was she told me that it was a forerunner of Leukemia. When I heard the word Leukemia I was stunned. My dad died from Leukemia. For what seemed like an eternity there was silence in the room. I stared into space and then I turned and saw tears welling up in my wife’s eyes as tears were welling up in mine. I knew she was trying desperately to be strong and hold it together but her face was unable to camouflage the intense concern that permeated her soul. For me it was new news. Heidi had several hours to try and come to grips with the implications of what she was sharing with me. I immediately thought the worst and a feeling of panic began to overwhelm me.
Heidi told me that she had been called by Jamie’s Orlando doctor. The doctor was unable to get in touch with Jamie by phone. After a number of tries Heidi was able to reach Jamie and told her that the doctor wanted her to come immediately to her office. She also said that Jamie should pack an overnight bag and be prepared to be admitted immediately to the hospital. The doctor had received the results of Jamie’s blood tests and she was extremely concerned. For one thing Jamie’s blood count was barely enough to keep a person alive. With the amount of blood Jamie had in her body a person should not be able to walk around. Jamie had been at work the day before and was continuing to perform her job responsibilities when she received the call from the doctor. How she was able to do this is still a mystery. In addition, her blood test showed a blast count that was below the threshold to be diagnosed as leukemia but still was very alarming. Jamie was a very sick young woman and immediate decisions needed to be made regarding treatment.
After the initial shock and flood of emotion I shifted into an action mode. Questions flooded my mind. What does this mean? What is being done right now? What needs to be done? What do we do next? Do we need to get a second opinion? Do we need to go down to Orlando tonight?
Heidi and I then began to talk through all of these questions and make decisions. Heidi decided to leave early the next morning and travel to Orlando and be with Jamie. I would stay and work until we found out more details. This would be the beginning of a long hard journey for Jamie and for us.
From March 2010 to January 3, 2011 I witnessed things a father and mother should never have to witness. I saw my daughter go from a very energetic, enthusiastic and vibrant young woman to a very thin whisper of who she once was. After a trip to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston Texas for a second opinion it was determined that the blast count had significantly increased and Jamie was now experiencing full fledged Leukemia (AML) – the worst kind. After much prayer and consultation a decision was made to receive treatments in Orlando. This set in motion an intense regimen of treatments and a nine month nightmare that now seems like a blur.
Each day I have flashbacks that invade my mind with images of Jamie during her valiant battle against daily attacks of leukemia.
Jamie’s beautiful red hair, a feature that everyone was entranced by, began to fall out due to intense chemotherapy treatments until eventually it was all gone. Pick lines inserted into her chest became severely infected and caused daily pain and discomfort. Painful bone marrow biopsies left huge bruises on her lower back. Severe skin rashes that produced extreme itching became more intense. Jamie’s days were filled with doctors and nurses filtering in and out with words of encouragement but faces painted with uncertainty and deep concern. Blood and platelet transfusions were becoming more frequent occurrences. Jamie’s ability to walk and do things for herself was becoming more and more difficult. Her jaundiced skin color was a constant reminder that significant damage was being done to her liver by Graft-Versus-Host Disease (GVHD) and the various medications she was taking in high doses and. Each week seemed to consist of small glimmers of hope followed by crushing blows of defeat.
A bone marrow transplant gave us great optimism that Jamie would win her heroic battle with cancer. Everything seemed to be falling into place. Total remission was achieved through intense chemotherapy. A perfect bone marrow match needed to be found. A young 29 year old female somewhere in Europe was that perfect match. We were told that except for brief details the identity of the donor must be kept anonymous. I am not sure of all the reasons for this but I suspect that one reason is to keep the donor from being adversely affected emotionally if the transplant is not successful. For fifty days the bone marrow transplant was producing the results everyone was hoping for. Then, suddenly Jamie experienced a relapse. A second bone marrow transplant was administered with excess bone marrow that had been frozen from the first donor batch. This was an interim action until a second bone marrow batch could be obtained. The generous sacrifice of the young woman in Europe provided Jamie with a fresh batch of bone marrow cells and once again we experienced a sense of optimism. Another bone marrow transplant was administered but the numbers never met expectations. We continued to have faith that God would intervene and perform a miracle in spite of the obvious diminishing state of Jamie’s health. Jamie literally willed herself to Christmas and was able to enjoy Christmas day with friends and family. Almost immediately after Christmas Jamie’s condition worsened and eight days later her journey ended.
Despite all the terrible things that were happening inside and outside of her body, Jamie never lost hope. Her faith never wavered. Her trust never budged. Her smile was as radiant as it had ever been. Her attitude was one that can only be described as heroic and courageous and miraculous. Jamie never doubted. Jamie never blamed anything or anyone including God. Jamie believed that God could intervene and make her well at any time but she never tried to dictate to God what He should or shouldn’t do. Jamie trusted God implicitly with her life and she accepted everything that was happening to her with an attitude that never allowed her to feel sorry for herself but rather served as a source of encouragement for everyone around her.
In reflecting back on those nine months I stand in awe and amazement at how my daughter handled herself during the most horrendous time of her young life. Her example was an inspiration for all who witnessed it. Her maturity of faith set a high standard of Christ likeness that every Christian should seek to attain. My daughter’s life unto death and the way she handled adversity has not only made me proud as a father but has literally changed every aspect of my life and has brought me closer to God than I have ever been before. I am confident that the same can be said for scores of others who have been impacted by Jamie’s courageous journey.
On the evening of January 2, 2011 we knew that unless God intervened that Jamie’s journey was nearing the end. The last several days had been very difficult to watch. Jamie had ceased eating or drinking anything. Her breathing had become extremely labored. She had struggled so long to hang on but she was now not able to communicate with us. I believe that she could still hear us and was aware that we were present with her and so we would continue to talk to her. Without a miracle we knew there was no possibility that the path she was on would change. That night we took turns as family and friends spending time with Jamie alone. We encouraged each other to give Jamie permission to let go and allow Jesus to usher her into Heaven. When family and friends left for the night, Heidi and I prepared once again to sleep on either side of her bed. As I had done for several nights I read Psalm 91 aloud to Jamie. Heidi and I each stood looking at our daughter not wanting to believe what we were seeing. We touched her and kissed her and told her how much we loved her. We turned on the CD player that would constantly play healing scriptures through the night.
A few hours later I felt a hand on my shoulder. It was the night shift nurse. I rose up and turned my head. I saw the nurse standing next to Jamie. The nurse said very matter-of-factly, “She has stopped breathing. I am sorry.” I stood to my feet and I stared at my daughter’s lifeless body. I went to the other side of the bed where my wife was sleeping. I gently touched her and repeated what the nurse had said to me. Heidi quickly stood. We embraced and stood looking in disbelief at what we knew was end of the journey for our precious daughter. One heart had stopped beating. Two hearts were broken into a thousand pieces. Tears were flowing down each of our cheeks as we stroked her arms, held her hands and caressed her face.
On the Road to Emotional Healing
It has been five months and my broken heart is still undergoing repair. It will never be completely mended but one day it will be replaced with a perfected heart. On that day I will see my daughter in eternal glory. Until then I will continue to experience the ache of a broken heart. I will continue to visit the memory of my daughter and hopefully I will be able to stay in her presence more and more as time goes by. One thing is for sure. I will never again take life for granted. I will take every opportunity to spend time with my family and friends. Though I am grateful that God entrusted Jamie to me and her mom for 26 years I will constantly wish for one more day – one more opportunity to see her smile – one more chance to hear her voice – one more day to give her a hug – one more day to have a conversation over the phone about new and exciting things that are going on in her career and in her life and one more day to say “I love you Pooh!”
As I travel down the road to emotional healing I am reminded of another road – the road to Emmaus found in Luke 24:13-35. Two disciples were traveling home on the road that led to Emmaus. They were overwhelmed with despair. Their hopes had been dashed. Their hearts were broken – gripped by sadness and gloom. Their world had been shattered. They had left the other disciples with the events of Good Friday fresh in their minds. The unthinkable had happened. Jesus was dead. The one who they adored and followed and loved and called Master suffered a cruel, degrading and painful death. It had never occurred to them that the one who they believed to be the Messiah, the deliverer, would suffer and die. They even said, “We had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Luke 24:21
Hope is a fragile thing. These two disciples were in a state of hopelessness. This led to despair and discouragement.
When Jamie died my hopes were dashed. I had hoped to walk my daughter down the aisle of matrimony. I had hoped to be a grandfather to Jamie’s children. I had hoped to hear the laughter of grandchildren that might have been. I had hoped to see Jamie’s career continue to blossom. I had hoped to celebrate many birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and other special occasions with my daughter. I had hoped to receive many visits from my daughter and her family as I would move into the twilight of my life. I had hoped that in years to come we could take long walks together and talk about spiritual things. As any parent, I had expected my children would outlive me.
The Bible says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1 [KJV]
Lord what happened? I had faith that Jamie would be healed. Right up until the last breath I had faith that You would intervene and perform a miracle of healing. I prayed according to Your will Lord. I stood firmly on the promises spelled out in your Word. Lord, what happened?
As I continue down the road to emotional healing I ask myself: Did my faith fail? I had faith that Jamie would be healed. It didn’t happen. This thought began to haunt me. I even began to wonder if I could ever have faith again. I began to wonder if I could ever pray for someone’s healing again. I was experiencing a state of confusion that I knew I must come to terms with before I could move on with my life.
The nagging question kept coming into my mind. Can faith fail?
Jesus thought it could.
When the disciples were being tossed around by a great storm on the Sea of Galilee they were afraid. In fact these seasoned fishermen were scared to death. And our Lord rebuked them by pointing out the failure of their faith:
And He said to them, ‘Why are you so timid? How is that that you have no faith?’ (Mark 4:40).
I recently heard a preacher say that there is a difference between faith and trust. I had always thought faith and trust was the same thing. So, the remarks of this preacher got my attention. The preacher went on to say “faith is confidence but trust is commitment.” Trying to keep an open mind I decided to meditate upon these words and seek discernment from God.
Throughout the nine months of Jamie’s ordeal I am convinced that my faith held firm. I refused to allow Satan any opening into my mind or heart. I refused to entertain any negative thoughts. I refused to give in to doubt or fear or failure. But after Jamie’s death my faith took a big hit. In my weakened state of weariness and grief I became vulnerable to Satan’s attacks. My ability to ward off those attacks was severely diminished to the point that I became alarming concerned about the state of my faith.
On my journey of grief I have found myself falling into despair bordering at times on dismal depression. Of course I would tell myself that these are natural occurrences in the process of grief. And they certainly are. In fact, there is a book entitled “Good Grief” that talks about the healthy aspects of the grief process. However, I became increasingly concerned as I found my faith succumbing to doubt and guilt. God’s promises are so clear and I stood firmly upon them and yet I did not receive the outcome I had hoped for. So, what does that say about my faith? Can I be a Christian and yet experience failure in my faith?
Peter’s faith failed. Jesus said to Peter in Luke 22:32, “But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” But Peter would soon deny Jesus three times. Peter certainly lost much of the confidence he previously had in Jesus. He too experienced doubt and certainly was overwhelmed with guilt at his lack of faith. But, what about Peter’s commitment to Christ? He certainly had not fallen completely away. Soon Peter would demonstrate that though his confidence had been shaken and his faith failed, his commitment remained intact. Peter’s trust in Jesus did not fail.
This is an important concept for me in this stage of my grief journey. My faith is being tested. My confidence has been shaken. I think it is fair to say that in some aspects my faith has failed momentarily at times. But, my trust – my commitment to Christ – has remained intact. My trust in Christ has NOT failed. It is my trust in Christ that has and continues to carry me in my journey of grief. My trust sustains me in my periodic battles with doubt and despondency and despair and in my weakness of faith. “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5
It’s time to return to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Their confidence was severely shaken. Their faith was being tested and they were experiencing despair and doubt.
What does our Lord do when his follower’s hearts are gripped with despair and discouragement? He draws near to the travelers and joins them in their confused state of hopelessness.
“Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing Him.” Luke 24:13-16.
As the two disciples made their way to Emmaus a stranger came alongside them. It was going to be one of the most wonderful walks of their lives and one of the significant walks in history! Of course, today, we know that it was Jesus who joined them on the road but the Bible tells us that they did not recognize Him.
In fact Luke tells us “they were kept from recognizing Him.”
I have always wondered why they were prevented from knowing that it was Jesus they were talking to. Could it be that Jesus knew that over the generations to come we would have to place our trust in Him without the benefit of actually seeing Him?
The stranger asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”
They began to share with the stranger the events that had taken place and the reasons that they were feeling such sorrow and despair.
And Jesus listened.
In my own journey down the road to emotional healing – my Emmaus road – Jesus has done what He did with these two weary travelers. Jesus has joined me in my journey. He has drawn closer to me than ever before. He has become a participant in my journey. He has recognized my sadness and sorrow and He has engaged me in conversation. He has listened and displayed compassion as I have poured out the emotional brokenness of my heart.
He has done this by taking me to the one place where everything can be placed into perspective – God’s Word.
“He said to them, How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter His glory? And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.” Luke 24:25-27
Just as Jesus shared with the two disciples all of the scriptures concerning Himself beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He has done the same with me. He has taken me through many revelations of who He is. He has assembled pieces of the puzzle so that gradually I am gaining insight into the bigger picture of life. Jesus has not chided me for feelings of disillusionment and despair. God has understood my anger – not at God, but anger with evil resulting from the fallen state of this world. God has allowed me to go to those places without condemnation. In doing so, He has impressed upon me the fact that pain is a part of the healing process. I have felt tremendous empathy from my Lord and Savior as my soul mourns the loss of my daughter. I have felt great freedom to allow tears born from grief to cleanse the scars of my soul. I have found that Jesus walks into our situation, whatever it is, and if we allow Him to He provides solutions to every problem we may face.
We may not always recognize Him. He may take the form of a friend who brings words of encouragement, a pastor who brings Godly counsel, a stranger who brings witness to God’s glory through shared experiences, a card received in the mail that says just what is needed for that moment, the Holy Spirit who brings discernment, and many other ways that may go unrecognized as the risen Lord steps in to provide comfort and consolation to our hurting soul. The question is: Do we allow Him to walk into our situation, become a part of our problem and minister to us so that we ultimately find resolution to the things that trouble us? The ways of God aren’t always obvious but if we place all of our trust in Him, lean not on our own understanding and be open to receiving divine discernment then He will take us to a new level of spiritual awareness and our lives will be forever changed.
We can choose to allow Jesus to help us or we can allow bitterness and resentment to cause us to miss the very thing that can bring us healing and wholeness. It is up to us. God gave each of us free will. We can choose to accept or reject the reality of the risen Christ and the healing salve he freely offers to sooth the hurt and repair the brokenness.
“As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if He were going farther. But they urged Him strongly, Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over. So He went in to stay with them. When He was at the table with them, He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, and He disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 25:28-32.
As the disciples approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he was going further. Jesus never forces Himself on us. He is always patiently waiting for an invitation to come into our lives.
In Revelation 3:19-20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
In one of the churches that I pastor there is a picture behind the pulpit. It is a picture of Jesus knocking at a door. If you look closely you will see that there is no door knob or handle on the outside. Jesus knocks but we must be the ones to open the door from the inside and invite Him to come in.
When the disciples saw that Jesus appeared to be going on they invited Him to come in and dine with them. Jesus accepted their invitation.
Jesus took bread that was on the table and broke it, gave thanks over it, and gave it to the disciples.
It was at that point that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.
And then He disappeared from their sight.
This is a vivid reminder to me that in our earthly lives we do not visibly see Jesus. We certainly sense His presence in our lives but it is through trust that He becomes real to us in every situation that we face. And it is in these real encounters with the risen Christ that our hearts burn within us and our eyes are opened to the reality of a spiritual realm beyond our comprehension.
In our despair the Lord draws nearer to us. As He reveals Himself by the truth of God’s Word concerning His nature and purpose we are drawn nearer to Him.
So, where am I in my experience with the risen Christ?
At times I am on the road of sorrow experiencing sadness and despair. Yes, I am still experiencing the pain of a broken heart. Tears still flood my eyes as images of the past year invade my mind. Some days are better than others but the realization that I will never see my precious daughter in this life again places me on the road of helplessness and vulnerability.
The good news is that I am not on the road alone. Without God I am helpless and I am vulnerable. Without God grief and despair will lead to dismal depression. Despondency will lead to utter destruction. Without God I cannot survive. With God, however, I can make my way down the darkened road of defeat and His light will transform it into the road to emotional healing.
Without exception, I am approached by a stranger or a friend who walks into my desperate situation. He comes with the consoling Word of God’s Truth. At times I am engrossed in the revelations of who Christ is through the reading of God’s Word. He knocks at my door and I am faced with the decision to invite Jesus in or allow Him to pass by. I open the door and Jesus enters into the inner chamber of my heart. We dine together. My eyes are opened and I see my Lord in ways more special than ever before. I feel my heart burning from the encounter and I am bathed in a love and compassion that overtakes my soul.
The fact is that God is God. God does not change. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Though our faith may at times waver and even fail, God is faithful.
I have found the words of the preacher to be meaningful to me. Theologians may disagree but for me it has been helpful to look at faith and trust in slightly different ways. Faith is confidence. Trust is commitment. But even if I am wrong and faith and trust are the same thing they are still key to our spiritual well being and right standing with God.
My commitment is this: Even if I falter in my faith, as Peter did, as Thomas did, as other great saints did, I still trust you Lord. Even if I pray for healing and healing doesn’t manifest itself in this life I still trust you Lord. Your ways are higher than my ways and Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts.
As a true believer, we commit ourselves to our heavenly Father in spite of unfair or evil circumstances. It is one thing to have faith in God, to know that God exists, and that He is all-powerful and that there is nothing that He cannot do or accomplish – but it is quite another thing to be able to completely trust God with your life and to completely trust Him in every circumstance even when the reality is not what you had hoped for and had faith in.
Trust believes that God will work things out despite how things appear.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.
I believe God wants our faith and trust to be the same. In fact, I believe that you cannot effectively move forward confidently in your spiritual walk unless faith and trust are in perfect alignment.
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” James 6: 6-7.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
We do God’s will the best we can because we trust our faithful Creator to set all things right in His time and way.
”Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”–1 Pet. 4:19
The road is still hard but I can move forward because I have trust in God. I can respond to the circumstances of life in a constructive way because I am not alone on the road. Jesus draws near and reveals Himself to me through the truth of God’s Word and in the breaking of the bread I am given spiritual eyes to see that which the world is blind to.
As devastating as the death of my daughter has been I can honestly say that my faith has been strengthened. I attribute this to my trust. I trust God no matter what. Even if things don’t turn out the way I hope I will still trust God. My desire and quest now is to insure that my faith is as true and solid as my trust.
What I have found in my own grief journey is that trust is a key foundation for faith to blossom within us. I have found that my trust in God was deeper than I thought as I have been forced to stand against the winds of circumstance that raged around my life and the lives of my family. Trust is like an anchor. For me and my family the anchor has securely held the ship together through the most horrendous storm life can produce.
When faith and trust come into perfect alignment we come into a state of true worship of our Creator. Worship is praising God for who He is without asking questions or seeking answers. Worship is submission to God, and submission is required from us in order to reach a point where we can find refuge, strength and healing.
“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.” Psalm 125:1
My final word to those who are reading this blog is this: Trust in God. Even if you are struggling with doubt, despair, depression, disillusionment or even if you have experienced a weakening or failure of faith – trust in God. Trust that no matter the circumstances, God is in control and God is sovereign and He is trustworthy. Trust will bring everything else into alignment and manifest itself in a peace that passes all understanding. The result is that God can use your circumstances to be a witness to others of His power and might and bring them to salvation.
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in Him.” Psalm 40:2-3
Do I see the whole picture? No. That would be foolish and arrogant of me to think. However, I do believe God has shown me some things as I have asked Him to – so I share from that perspective. The Bible says we know in part and prophesy in part. One day we will see clearly. Until that day comes we must trust in God.
As I come to the end of this blog I feel a sense of liberation – a freedom from guilt, a freedom from self condemnation and a freedom to surrender my will to the will of God and totally immerse myself in His marvelous grace. A phrase I like is “Let Go and Let God.” Only total surrender can take us to that higher dimension of trust, peace and fulfillment in this life.
Jamie was a special young woman who loved God with all of her heart. She had a faith that was unwavering. She trusted God unconditionally. Through her life, through her struggle and through her death she has taught me many things. God did not cause Jamie to die. It was not God’s perfect will for Jamie to die. We live in a fallen world and whether we like it or not, whether we understand it or not, bad things sometimes happen to good people. The world labels what happened to Jamie as a tragedy. The world is correct. It was a tragedy and I believe that God weeps right along with me over the physical loss of my daughter in this world. It was never God’s desire that evil enter into the world He created. However, God gave His creation a wonderful gift called “free will.” We were given the freedom to choose. This necessarily includes the freedom to choose wrong over right and evil over good.
For now God allows evil to co-exist with good in this world. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was the public demonstration that He had defeated the forces of evil and conquered death itself, the end result of evil. In doing so he pointed the way to the final victory, when both sin and suffering will be banished forever from His kingdom.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
“Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev 21:3-4
Until the day that God eliminates all evil tragedies will occur. However, God can take a tragedy and bring about good from it. Jamie would not want what happened to her to diminish anyone’s faith and trust in the almighty God of creation. Through her journey God has used Jamie’s faithfulness to proclaim and reveal a higher spiritual dimension than exists in this life. In doing so, countless lives may be changed and countless souls may be saved. Jamie’s memory stands as a testament to the impact one person can have for the kingdom of God. I thank God every day for entrusting Jamie to the care of her mom and me and look forward to the day that we will all be reunited.
Jamie’s death continues to be difficult for me and my family to accept and deal with. I suspect it will continue to be that way for the rest of our earthly lives. It is only as God empowers us with His Grace that we are able to find strength to continue the journey on the road to emotional healing. I will continue to stand on God’s promises. I will continue to pray for the sick. And I will continue to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God used Jamie in a mighty way while she was here on this earth. He continues to use her legacy for His glory today and I intend to keep her memory alive so that her life can continue to be a life saving inspiration for others who come to know her.
Jamie stood firmly on the Word of God and it should come as no surprise to anyone that her favorite verse was:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will direct your paths.
Proverbs 3, 5-6
Father, I belong to You. I place myself anew in Your hands and acknowledge You as Master and Lord of my life. Heal my hurts and wounds and teach me to rely on Your love. Grant me wisdom of heart and strengthen me by Your grace to move on in faith, in trust and in love. Thank you Lord for Your love in my life.
1 Peter 1:3-9
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”