“For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-11 [NASB]
This passage has become my personal prayer over the past week or so. The numbness that initially shielded our broken hearts has now resolved and been replaced with excruciating reality. We are acutely aware of how desperately we miss Sarah and how radically our lives were transformed on June 8th, 2017. We are “burdened excessively” far “beyond our strength,” indeed we have “despaired even of life.” We feel the sting of death in our souls, and we cry out in the depth of our grief like Jeremiah in Lamentations, “my soul is bereft of peace; I have forgotten what happiness is; so I say, “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the LORD” (Lam 3:17-18 ESV).
Thankfully Jeremiah’s testimony goes on to give us hope in the midst of our deep distress:
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” Lamentations 3:21-26 [ESV]
We cling to this hope, His mercies are new every morning. We have learned the necessity of heeding His warning in Matthew 6:34 regarding “tomorrow” as we journey through this dark valley. We must fight the constant temptation to agonize over tomorrow, we must not allow ourselves to fall into Satan’s crippling snare of trying to figure out how we will survive the next painful “first,” “second,” or “third” without Sarah. We do not currently possess the strength, grace or mercy to meet the unthinkable challenges of tomorrow. We praise Him that His Word promises to provide each and every morning the new mercy and abundant grace uniquely necessary for that day specifically. We relate to the Word inspired through Paul in the 2 Corinthians passage above, “we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.” So we fix our eyes on Him and strive to rest in the grace and mercy provided for the day, knowing He has faithfully provided our every need each new morning for the past 45 days and trusting like Paul that “He will yet deliver us.”
“So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34 [NASB]
Also like Paul in 2 Corinthians, we continue to ask for prayer, that you may join “in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.” People naturally watch those who suffer, so our prayer is that we may suffer in a way that points to God’s abundant provision. May we keep our hope set on Him and He continue to faithfully deliver us daily. May His mercy and grace be evident in us, and His surpassing power overrunning in our lives as a testimony to His faithfulness for His glory and the expansion of His kingdom.
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10 [NASB]
We long, like Sarah, to finish well but the path before us is so painfully long, dark and daunting without her. We covet prayers that our focus will stay fixed on Him and His provision for today, that we may receive the outpouring of grace, mercy and strength necessary to continue in Him. May we also hold unswervingly to the hope we profess so that in the end we, too, may be confident and unashamed before Him.
Text message from Sarah Harmening to Rachel Early 5/22/2017