Who is ever really ready for the loss of a mother, or any loved one for that matter? I certainly wasn’t. I was in the 4th grade. It was late winter, and I’d been out rollerblading with my friend. When his mom picked us up to take me home, she said almost nothing the whole drive. My grandpa was leaning up against a tree as I walked up the driveway and in through the garage. Inside, my dad met me and with red eyes told me the words no 10-year-old ever dreams they’ll hear: “Mom passed away today.”
My mom had been battling cancer, so on some level I’d seen this coming, but it still felt like an impossibility. How could she be gone? She was my parent—she was invincible, right? And yet, I lost her that day.
At the time, I didn’t know Christ, and we had just barely begun attending church as a family. I didn’t reach out to God. And yet He was still actively working in my life, in my dad’s life, my brother’s life, and in the lives of a mom and her daughters who lived down the street from us. Our heavenly Father loved all of us, and was making all things new.
When we lose someone we love, they leave a void that feels like it will never be filled. We may try to fill it on our own with new relationships, new stuff, or new experiences. And yet the space is still there, seemingly irreparable, as long as we keep trying to force things into it that simply don’t fit. Because only one thing belongs in that space.
What I realized as I got older and began following Christ, is that He understands our hurt more than we could ever know. He wants to help us heal our wounds, not cover them up with something else. Grieving is normal and doesn’t need to be explained or even examined. In fact, the shortest, most straightforward verse in Scripture is “Jesus wept.” He wept after He lost a close friend. He modeled that in our hardest moments, we can cry out to God because He cares and He’s listening. Through the grieving process, we keep the memories of our loved ones in their special place in our hearts, and God helps us to open up a brand new space for the new people in our lives—a space where they fit in perfectly.
Through a friend at church, my dad soon met a wonderful woman who happened to live just down the road from us. She was raising two daughters on her own. She would become my mom, and the girls my sisters. And while we all carried pain and loss into the beginning of this new thing, we also found in Christ the space to let our family grow into something beautiful. God was restoring all of us, and without tracing every single step along the way I can truly say that I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t experienced the loss of my first mom. I love my family so much. Considering how we all came together, I count that as a miracle from God.
You see, in His great love for us God is working in all things in our lives, for good. He has a purpose and a plan for you. The Creator of the Universe Himself gives you everything you need to do good work. He’ll never break His word or leave us helpless. He is there to help us through the pain and bring us into something new, in a way that only He can. If we’ll let Him.
In Isaiah 43:19 NIV God says, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” He truly is, and truly did for me.
God brought life and restoration to the places in my heart that 10-year-old me thought would never be happy again. I’m grown now with a beautiful wife and family of my own. I’ve been able to experience true joy again in this life. And I have nothing but joy ahead for the next life someday. My Mom knew Jesus when she died, so I know I’ll see her again. We’ll have a lot of catching up to do. Until then, I’m so thankful for the life and the healing I’ve been given.
God is the only one who can bring new life even from death. He can bring water to the desert. He can make a way through what looks impossible to you, too. Maybe you’re struggling with the loss of a mother, a father, a friend, a child. Don’t struggle alone in the dark. Accept that God is with you in your pain, and keep hoping and trusting in His character and goodness. There is always a reason to have hope in a God who is good, even when your life isn’t.