I started journaling regularly in 2001 when my dear friend was diagnosed with cancer. My discussions with her gave me a longing to record my journey with Christ as a lasting testimony for my children should I die before they were capable of really understanding or remembering. I soon realized I was not actually capable of remembering all the details myself, so the journals served as great encouragement to me as well. This blog was birthed with the exact same intent in 2009. I would be writing right now regardless of whether or not I shared it, it’s cathartic for me. Writing helps me to recognize, clarify and organize issues in my mind and heart. It then enables me to line the issues up next to scripture to ensure I am dealing with them “rightly,” according to God’s Word.
“We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.” Psalm 78:4 [NIV]
I initially had mixed emotions about sharing my journey through this dark valley, as a result each of the first few posts was tentatively the last. Each time, though, the tentative last was followed by yet another lesson my heart longed to share. For a week or so I have been wrestling with the idea that I should share my motivations for writing, particularly right now. Some may think it inappropriate to share during this extremely raw season for our family, and I understand that viewpoint. Scott and I have prayed over it, though, and both feel the ability God has given me to transparently share our journey will be used by Him for His glory. The countless testimonies already shared with us by those impacted by our telling what God is doing in our lives have encouraged me to continue to share what He is teaching and showing us day by day.
The day Sarah went home to the Lord, Scott reminded me of the fact that we would have a responsibility to be available to minister to those who come behind us on this painful path (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). His reminder prompted the desire to keep a more detailed record of the journey, the pain, provision and redemption.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 [NASB]
Each and every time I write, my intention is always to transparently point only and fully to Jesus Christ. Just as we long for Sarah’s absence to be redeemed by her testimony pointing to Christ resulting in the transformation of lives, I long for my personal pain to be redeemed by encouraging and pointing others to Christ as well. God has been so faithful to provide that redemption. As of today, our testimony of Sarah’s departure and God’s provision, Suffering, Anguish and Redemption, has been viewed almost thirty-one thousand times, and in ninety-one countries. The included link to the gospel presentation has been clicked over 100 times.
In writing to point others to Christ, I am simultaneously writing to glorify God. God has been so faithful to us through this journey. In a world filled with pain and hopelessness, I feel called to shine the light of hope in the midst of our indescribable pain. Not only do I long to share the Hope of salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ, but I long to share the hope of God’s faithful provision in the midst of life struggles and even unspeakable tragedy.
Going back to our call to comfort others with the comfort we have received, I write to leave a bread crumb trail for those who will unfortunately follow as we meander through this forest of grief. I wish no one else would ever know the pain of having their child unexpectedly ripped from their arms, but they will. I long to leave those aching parents a story of not just survival, but of great hope. I long for our recorded story to be evidence that God is faithful and He will powerfully carry them through just as He has us.
I also write to update those who love us, we can only tell our story so many times in person and on the phone, but we long to keep all those we love updated. We want to update them on God’s provision so they, too, can be encouraged as they grieve with us. At the same time, as they have a better understanding through my sharing they are able to pray more specifically for us, which blesses us.
I write because I am broken and I am seeking the Lord. I write because I know He is faithful “so I know He’s going to do incredible things” (to quote Sarah Harmening). I could save it all up and share it later, but there is something more powerful about watching the hand of God in the lives of broken people, real time. He will heal us, though we will always ache for Sarah. He is and will continue restoring our joy as a family. He will powerfully sustain us. He has and will continue to pour out grace upon grace on us. I cannot bear to be silent about what He has done and what He will do, so with a heart full of pain and praise I will continue to write. I will write right now in the valley, knowing one day I will once again see the mountain top. I’d love for you to join me on the journey, but even if I go alone, I will write.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights…” Habakuk 3:17-19 [NIV]
Artwork: Sarah Harmening