In the box I found the engagement announcement for my mother and father and was struck by how differently their lives turned out than the the way they planned them.
You see… I was born into the American dream. My mother and father were high school sweethearts and deeply in love with one another. After high school they married and my mom was soon pregnant with my sister, Shawn. My mom and dad had good jobs and were working to renovate our family’s 40-acre farm on one of Florida’s many coastal communities. Nearly a decade passed and then my parents learned that my mother was pregnant again (with yours truly). But soon after my birth my family history took a tragic turn. One day at work my mother had an accident. She slipped on a wet floor at the job she had worked so hard to apprehend and mangled the bones in her lower back. The injury set in motion a series of unsuccessful surgeries and failed medical experiments that left her in a worse physical condition than the accident itself.
My father handled the stress of the accident rather poorly. His demise began with the alcohol abuse and led to drugs, pornography, and eventually adultery. My mother was disabled and depressed and my father, abandoned his nine-year-old daughter and his newborn son and high school sweetheart. Within two years our American dream had turned into a nightmare.
It seemed as if God had abandoned us and was prematurely ending my family’s story, but God was just beginning His work in us. The prophet Hosea said, “for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.” (Hosea 6:1-2) God was breaking us in order to heal us… and so that we would “live before Him.”
Now 30 years later my father is dead as a result of alcohol abuse. My mother is still disabled as a result of her fall. But God has made a new creation out of my family. One by one each of us turned to Christ in faith and exchanged our sorrow for the joy that is found in knowing Christ Jesus. God provided a new husband for my mother that cared for her in sickness and in health. He provided a new father for my sister and I who modeled selfless love to us. So why did God allow harm to come to us? It was so that he could heal us! Why did he strike us down? It was so that he could pick us up again! He has revived us and caused us to live before him – we are better for it.
“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.” (Hosea 6:1-2)