We thought that was what our day would mostly be about. We had planned a date in the evening so we could spend some much-needed time together.
But our day took a turn and left us focused on less-than-joyful things.
Our babysitter backed out so our date was cancelled.
Then began a string of sudden tragedies all around us.
I decided to read a bit of daily news, and I was horrified to read about the C-130 that crashed in Afghanistan, killing its crew. One of my best friends is married to a pilot who flies C-130s. He has been to Afghanistan. This very well could have been him in this story. The reality of it hit me hard as I reached out to my friend and realized I had very little comfort to offer (other than gratitude that her husband is safe).
We had some friends over after school, and as I was walking them out, we heard sirens barreling toward us. We looked up and saw black smoke rapidly rolling out of a house and into the sky. People seemed to appear out of nowhere as a stream of police cars, firetrucks, rescue squads, and ambulances rushed to the burning house. The fire was extinguished as neighbors informed me that the house belonged to an elderly couple. The husband made it out of the house, but his wife did not. The late news last night confirmed that she was deceased by the time the firefighters got to her.
I didn't know these people, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. That man lost his house and his wife in just a few moments. This was also the third house fire in our neighborhood in the past year. I don't feel super secure about the safety of our house.
I sent a text to my family about the fire, and my dad replied by letting us know that a friend of his had passed away suddenly from a massive heart attack while he was out in his corn field. Again, this was a sudden death with no warning. I felt very shaken.
We were outside talking to neighbors and friends who had driven over to see what was happening. Nora checked both sides of the street and then began to cross right in front of a parked car. That parked car began to drive at just that moment. I shouted Nora's name and she backed up to the curb, and thankfully the driver paused. Nora ran into the house crying because I had shouted at her, but at least she was safe. It was such a close call.
Once I could squeeze my car between emergency vehicles to get out of our neighborhood, I took Nora to a friend's house. Her friend's dad works for Caterpillar, the same company my husband Jared works for. If you read the news at all, you know that Caterpillar is in the midst of laying off thousands of employees. We discussed the possibilities of how this might play out for both of our families. Jared has already told me that he feels confident that he could get another job. It just would require that we move. Moving isn't exactly tragic, but it isn't easy. I trust that God had planned for my sister to move to Florida. But it hurt like crazy to let her go. It still stings when we don't get to talk often enough. I trust that God would lead us to the next job if it came to that, but I also know it would hurt.
I didn't sleep very well last night. I just couldn't stop feeling the heaviness. So many situations of sudden tragic loss and all of them were so close to us. Is this a warning? A coincidence? A reminder to be so grateful for our safety?
I was lying awake during the night when Jared woke up too. I told him I couldn't stop thinking about the man from the house fire and everything that had happened. He wrapped his arm around my waist and squeezed me tight against him. He said sleepily, "Happy sixteen years."
We know this world is a broken place, and being part of God's people doesn't keep us from experiencing the heartache this world can bring. We are not of the world but we sure are in it. I know God has a plan for me personally and for my family. I trust Him to lead us through His plan for us. The very emotional human part of me just doesn't want to experience the growing pains along the way.
People often quote Jeremiah 29:11:
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."I love these words and I believe them. But I have also studied them in context. They were written to God's people who had been in exile. God's people had been rebellious and had been warned over and over to turn back to Him. Because they chose not to obey him, God allowed the Babylonians to take over their land, destroy their temple, and scatter God's remaining people. The words of Jeremiah 29:11 were spoken to those weary, broken down people once they had been through the heartache and God was ready to restore them. God was being so compassionate toward them and was restoring their hope and faith in Him. I cling to the reassurance of these words, but I also know what can come before them.
If my husband was killed on his job, my God would have a plan for me. If I lost a family member in a house fire, God would take care of me. If my child was hit by a car or someone I loved had a sudden massive heart attack or my whole family had to move to somewhere unknown so my husband could have a job, well God would certainly give us a future. But I honestly still struggle with fear of the sudden unknown as well as fear of the pain.
Jared reminded me of our discussions at church as we are studying heaven. I told him I am 100% secure in knowing my eternity is in heaven. It's the time on earth that churns my stomach.
So I'm gathering up some verses to help me combat that fear. I need these and maybe you do too.
"So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10
"When I am afraid, I put my trust in you." Psalm 56:3
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
"Peace is what I leave you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid." John 14:27
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7
"But now this is what the Lord says--he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you Israel: 'Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.'" Isaiah 43:1
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" Psalm 27:1
"I tell you my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows." Luke 12:4-7
More verses to consider: Psalm 94:19, Proverbs 12:25, Psalm 23:4, Luke 12:22-26, Psalm 55:22, Deuteronomy 31:6, Isaiah 41:13-14, Psalm 46:1, Psalm 118:6-7, Proverbs 29:25, Psalm 34:4, Romans 8:38, Zephaniah 3:17, Psalm 91