A young family seemingly has it all. Good jobs, a nice house, newer vehicles, and two healthy sons. Life is good for this young family. Every Sunday they go to church and the pastor in one way or another reminds them that the storms of life are coming and that a dark day visits each of us. They listen with attention but never feel that this day will come to them. As their two sons grow older they feel the desire to have more children and soon a third son is born. He is a complete bundle of energy and excitement and brings such joy to their home. It seems their perfect American dream just kept getting better and better.
On an unseasonably warm Thursday in March the family has a few friends over and the kids enjoy the warm day. It is perhaps the first time this now nearly 2 year old little boy has enjoyed playing outdoors. Suddenly a sickening feeling strikes everyone as it is quickly discovered that the little boy is missing. The house is searched, the neighbors are called and everyone is employed to find the beautiful little boy. To the horror of his mother she pulls back the cover to the family’s swimming pool to discover her baby face down in the water.
Paramedics are called and arrive on the scene to revive the baby boy. He is rushed to an area hospital where the parents are given no hope for his survival. The child is airlifted to another hospital where it is discovered that he had been in the water for no less than 5 minutes and had no chance to live; however if by some miracle he did live he would be severely brain damaged and live the rest of his life and live in a vegetative state.
Through an absolute miracle the little boy does survive but suffers the most severe brain damage you can possibly imagine. He will be fed through a tube in his stomach, his diapers will need to be changed for the rest of his life and he has no noticeable motor skills. He will never walk, he will never talk, he will never do anything a normal child would do.
Hours turn to days, days to months and months to years as the father, mother and two brother’s work diligently day and night to regain the sweet little boy they lost but to no avail. The damage is done. After nearly 13 years of therapies, surgeries, 24 hour care and constant worry the sweet little baby that is now a teenager slips off into eternity leaving a family hurting and incomplete.
This story is very personal to me because that little baby boy was my brother, Clinton. The events are as real as the pain of losing the relationship and eventually the life of my sweet baby brother. As you read this perhaps your mind is flooded with a signature tragic moment in your own life. Whether it be the death of a parent, the loss of a sibling or your own physical struggles we all at some point will take our walk through the valley.
As God’s Word reminds us we never walk through these moments alone. He is always there to comfort, encourage, strengthen and guide His child in the dark moments of life. Suffering is no respecter of age, race, or social status. Each of us must bear their burdens and for some must bear them in their youth. The choice we have it what we will do before, during, and after the trials to ensure that we come out with a right attitude and most importantly, that God gets the glory.
Trials do not make us who we are, they reveal what we were. Before the trial comes in to your life be sure you are strong in your faith and in your understanding of who God is and the vital role He plays in your life. While you may falter from day to day it is crucial that when the winds start blowing you can stand firm on a reliable source of strength that you have built great confidence in through a dedicated relationship.
In the midst of your suffering it is so tempting to blame. Our human nature craves the satisfaction that comes from laying the blame on someone or something. God becomes the easiest target and we often turn on our only help and the only hope we have of getting through. In your darkest moments be content and satisfied with the realization that trials come to all of us and that blaming God or another person will only leave us bitter and hurt. Blame may give you a moment of temporal satisfaction but it will cost you a life of lonesome suffering.
In any event of suffering the greatest unknown is when it will end. We pray that God will bring miraculous healing or the restoration of a relationship or some supernatural windfall but sometimes He answers in a way we don’t understand. In the case of my family that event was the death of my brother. After years of struggling to breathe, seizures, surgeries and pain God brought the ultimate healing by taking him to Heaven. While we had prayed and worked and labored to restore his health it was not God’s will that Clinton experience healing this side of heaven. As a child of God and his brother I have to be alright with that. I have to be able to trust God enough to believe His way is best. At the end of your trial when God makes His final verdict you must be willing to accept His way because fighting against it or becoming spiteful will only destroy you and waste the trial God brought to grow you. No matter what valley you walking through, teenager, trust that the outcome will be exactly what God wants it to be and accept that it is the absolute best thing for you. I know, easier said than done but we as pastors, youth workers and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ know you can turn your trials into triumphs through the power of God and are here to rejoice with you when God’s will is made complete in your life. Trust Him through the trials!