How Do I Welcome Tragedy?

Our VBS started last Monday, one week ago today. It feels like a lifetime ago.

Tuesday evening, following a great night with the VBS kiddos, our newly married son, Jon, and his beautiful bride, Stephanie, went home. Within 10 minutes of Dave and I arriving at our home, Jon called. “Dad, I need you. Our house is on fire.”

The pit that formed in my stomach is still indescribable. I can’t form the words so let’s just leave it as heavy and deep.

To arrive at their home and watch fire hoses spray through what Jon and Steph had arranged and fashioned as their home for the last two months was heart-breaking.

They are safe.

Some would say, “That’s what really matters.” That statement is true and I am grateful for the protection of God and the quick action of both Jon and Steph to make decisions quickly and effectively. Their strength and fortitude in those first moments of action speak to another blessing of grace.

The morning light revealed the damage and loss.

Through these last few days, God’s grace and strength have carried us. The prayers of friends and family have lifted us. The acts of meals, cleaning, laundry, hauling out debris and stepping up in the realm of VBS encouraged our hearts and enabled us to keep going.

Some have said to me, “You are so strong to keep going with VBS. To do all that you are doing is amazing!” And my honest answer back is, “I am not strong.”

Through many moments, I am weak. My mama tears have poured out over and over.

I am weak BUT MY GOD… HE is strong! He enables our feet to stand and take that next step when our physical self wants to crumble and collapse.

Again and again, when I have believed another step is not possible. He holds me. In this last week, I have been a bundle of sobbing, ugly tears many times over. And God is good with that. He is not put off or disgusted by our ugly cries. He holds us in our moments of hard and difficult. He cradles us in his hands and safely holds our broken pieces.

This morning, after weighing another disappointment, Dave added, “It’s been a strange year.”

There’s a lot of truth to that. Together we have faced some difficult paths and battled encounters I didn’t see at the beginning of this year. Which brought our morning conversation around to my chosen word for the year: WELCOME. – to greet the arrival of with pleasure or kindly courtesy; to receive or accept with pleasure; regard as pleasant or good. To welcome a change.

I’m not advocating welcoming tragedy with open arms. That’s nuts and an unhealthy mindset in ignoring the loss and grief tragedy brings. Yet as I reread through the words I wrote just 7 months ago…

I have control over more than I give myself credit for. I have control over my attitude. I have control over where I allow my thoughts to linger. I have control over my actions and the words I speak. I have more resilience and fortitude within myself than I realized.

WELCOMING THIS NEW YEAR

I marvel at the forethought of God and His way of preparing us for our unknown road ahead. In my reading time this morning, God drove the point home again.

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord, my God.

Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for He has been good to me.

Psalm 13:2-6 (NIV)

In the midst of tragedy, we will not let the enemy overcome us. Yes, there are times of sadness and grief over the loss of what was, but we don’t stay there because in the midst of it all there is much to be grateful for.

  • The safety of our children
  • the provision and protection of our Father
  • the kindness and generosity of others.
  • prayers from family and friends who are walking with us

Do I welcome this tragedy? No, and definitely not with open arms.

I do however, welcome the grace, strength and assuredness of God’s Presence with us. I welcome the salve smoothed over our weary selves from soul-giving individuals.

The morning after the fire, I cried ugly tears in the corner of my kitchen. Dave held me as I sobbed. He whispered, “We are strong. We are going to make it!” And through my sobs, I cried, “I don’t want to be strong.”

And wisely, again Dave whispered, “You don’t have to be. I’m not asking you to be now. But we will make it. God will bring us through.”

And that’s the truth of it.

Tragedy, loss, and grief are all ugly hard. There are moments of gushing tears and crippling sobs on the floor. But we rise again. We stand again because we will not be overcome. We trust in the unfailing love of our faithful and forever enduring Father.

Through our cleaning, salvaging and airing out process from the fire, these wall hangings from Jon and Steph’s living room keep reminding me that where they are is not the end but an unexpected, unanticipated sharp turn in the road. There are far better roads, look-out points and breath-taking views ahead in this marriage journey of theirs.

They will endure. They are strong. God is strong and He is strong within them. He will not fail them. Love Never Fails.

20 thoughts on “How Do I Welcome Tragedy?

  1. I am so sorry about the fire. That’s so scary. I’m glad everyone is safe. It’s really hard when our children suffer. My son didn’t have a fire, but he had a significant loss when he had to store his possessions for a few months in a storage shed that ended up not being sealed properly. He lost a lot of possessions to mold which still grieves me. He seems to have handled it better than his mom. 🙂 But anyway, I’m praying for you all as you clean up and start over from this.

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  2. Rachel! These words and these pictures…I thought I was all cried out, but your beautifully crafted words allowed me one more cry, and I really needed it. There are no accurate words for me to tell you how grateful I will eternally be for you and Dave. This mama’s heart was so lost in the uncertainty of it all, but I had solace knowing that my daughter was being loved on with the same heart Steve and I have for her. FOR THEM! God’s hand of protection, grace, love, and so many other attributes were so evidently tangible all week long. To your church I say, “Thank you for being Christ’s hand extended! ❤️”

    The pictures of the fire department doing their job (with excellence) rips at my heart, but the reminders from their inside their home fill me with joy now as we are on the other side of this.

    We are blessed, mama with great kiddos, and a GREAT GREAT God!

    Warning: I owe you one giant hug!

    Much love to you all!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh Rachel, I am so sorry to hear this news. My thoughts and prayers will be with your family, specifically Jon & Stephanie! I can tell you first hand this loss is not easy to overcome but is possible. My mother’s home burned to the ground on Christmas Eve when my husband and I were in Bible College. Everything was lost including all our wedding gifts stored in my room. We had a small efficiency apartment on campus at college. It was a miracle our lives were spared as the fire started between floors under the bedroom we would have been sleeping in. Because it was Christmas Eve my husband wanted to stay at his parents house as he had many younger siblings who got up early for gifts and Christmas Breakfast. We had the clothes on our backs and pj’s. We lost everything and had to return to college in just 10 days. The overwhelming support of family, friends and even strangers sustained us. Once we returned to college girls in the dorm even shared clothing, winter coats and replaced our Bibles/books. My mother was a single mom who raised 5 children and worked her entire life to provide and own her home. Just 2 months prior to the fire she made her last house payment in October. In November she had the house sprayed with foam insulation. The investigation proved the foam insulation was over filled in places and caused the wiring to shift and smother thus causing the fire on Christmas Eve. My mother had a dream prior to the fire answering the question, “What would you want most to save if your home was to ever catch on fire”? She immediately said, “my kids pictures and baby books”!!! God woke my brother up during the night and once he and my mother realized the house was on fire my mother began grabbing every picture off the walls and stands including all baby books out of the hutch drawer and the family Bible (genealogy record). I could not help but relieve our tragedy once again as I read and saw the pictures of Jon & Stephanie’s home. God was the rock my mother stood on all those years and His strength, mercy and grace carried us all through the days that followed. Sending my love, prayers, hugs and support for you all in the days ahead. Seeing the pictures and shadow box reminds me their marriage and union was established 2021 by God and will stand the test of time. These will become cherished treasures and testaments to God’s divine hand in their lives. Much love, Peggy

    Liked by 1 person

  4. One of my new favorite songs…
    Keith & Kristyn Getty – He Will Hold Me Fast Lyrics

    When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
    When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
    I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
    For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.

    He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
    For my Saviour loves me so, He will hold me fast.

    Those He saves are His delight, Christ will hold me fast;
    Precious in his holy sight, He will hold me fast.
    He’ll not let my soul be lost; His promises shall last;
    Bought by Him at such a cost, He will hold me fast.

    For my life He bled and died, Christ will hold me fast;
    Justice has been satisfied; He will hold me fast.
    Raised with Him to endless life, He will hold me fast
    ‘Till our faith is turned to sight, When He comes at last!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sorry to hear about the fire Rachel. Not sure what else to say except that I do pray for you and your family every day – you are part of a small group of bloggers who bless me with your words and the least I can do in return is pray for you all daily.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have such a beautiful heart!

    The constant steadfastness of God is a comfort in all that life throws at us. To know we have an Abba Father who longs for us to run to His strong arms and protective embrace is the peace and that we need to keep moving onward, trusting in Him. To actually fall into His embrace and to lean on Him is to find that it was never in our strength, but always His that help us run the race with endurance. To know that our Daddy wants all of us: our joys, our praises, our victories, our fears, our ugly tears, and our weaknesses in His hands is a comfort beyond comprehension.

    Your words and your heart are a true witness to the faithfulness of God. This tragedy could have had a very different ending, but God…

    And we are so grateful and blessed.

    Your testimony is a loving tribute of His protection and His provision, of His love for us always, and His promise that He is our shelter and abiding place is your story, our story, Jon and Steph’s story, His Story. This day, and every day, this is Whom I choose to serve!

    “Leaning, leaning
    Safe and secure from all alarms
    Leaning, leaning
    Leaning on the everlasting arms”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so sorry, Rachel! I sympathize with your kids. We lost our first home to a flood, but God saw us through. Why these things happen we may never know, but God is our strength. He will see us through every difficulty. No trial we face is ever wasted when we give it to Him. Love and prayers!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So sorry, Rachel! Wow – The evil one wants to discourage us, divide us, and stop us from sharing our faith, but that’s not happening, is it? You keep on kickin’ devil-butt and you will see grace, mercy, beauty and glory in your life and the lives of your kids- no doubt this brings them closer together. They will be a force for the kingdom!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am so glad that they are Ok! And that they acted quickly. My son has been training to be a fireman and if I’ve realized anything, it’s that most people wait too long and try to handle things themselves. I’m glad they had capable help in putting this out–and that they have help from such a wonderful family. Hugs to all.

    Liked by 1 person

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