“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
Perhaps you have heard it said, or maybe you have even told someone that, “God will never give you more than you can handle.” While these words are always said with the very best of intentions, they just simply are not true. If anything, a survey of the Bible shows just the opposite. Throughout the pages of Scripture we read time and time again of how God allowed people to experience various trials, so that they would turn to Him and learn to rely on His strength instead of their own.
My sister Wanda and brother-in-law Kent experienced this truth firsthand nearly 7 years ago. I am beyond grateful that Wanda is willing share her story today, so that others may know the strength, comfort, and hope found only in Jesus Christ. If you, or someone you know is currently facing an overwhelmingly difficult time, I pray that Wanda’s story and the truth of God’s Word will be an encouragement to you today.
By all accounts my life was great. I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home and to give my life to the Lord at a young age. I married my high school sweetheart and life just seemed to get better. We built our dream house in the country and shortly thereafter began a family. Our son Kole was born in December of 2003. Just 20 months later, in August of 2005, Kayla Joy was given to us as another wonderful gift, and in April of 2008, we were blessed with a second daughter when our beautiful Kassidy Marie was born. We felt like everything we had hoped and dreamed for was becoming a wonderful reality. By all accounts my life was beyond blessed.
Then came Thursday morning, August 7th, 2008, the day that would change our lives forever. I dropped the kids off at daycare. It was a gorgeous morning. I was drinking my coffee and heading to the hospital where I work as a cardiac nurse clinician. I had Christian radio cranked up loud and was worshiping the Lord at the top of my lungs. I was not gifted with a beautiful singing voice, so it is in my van that I sing the loudest, when only the Lord can hear me! The song, Bring the Rain by Mercy Me came on and I sang along. I had sung along to this song many times before, but this time as I sang the words, “bring me joy, bring me peace, bring the chance to be free, and if that’s what it takes to praise you, Jesus bring the rain” something changed inside me. It was at that moment that I said in my heart, “yes Lord, no matter what; I want to be close to you.” That whole day I had a tugging at my heart, and again that afternoon when I visited the lactation office to “pump” (as I was a working mom still breastfeeding my baby), I remember praying, “Lord I just want a closer walk with you no matter what that means.”
That weekend we planned to dedicate our 3 ½ month old Kassidy Marie to the Lord. At our church, we don’t baptize infants, but rather we dedicate them to the Lord. Standing before the church, we promise to raise them in a godly home and to teach them about the Lord, and the church congregation promises to support us and keep us accountable. We planned to have all our family over after church for dinner to celebrate this wonderful occasion and to also celebrate our sweet Kayla’s third birthday. After work that Thursday, I asked my mom if she could pick up my kids from daycare so that I could go to the grocery store to get everything we would need for the weekend. Everything was going as planned.
As I was leaving the grocery store after stocking up on what I’d need to prepare a celebration feast for Sunday, I got the phone call. Nobody would tell me exactly what was happening other than something was wrong and that I needed to get to the daycare quickly. I knew instantly that our Kassidy was gone. As I drove to the daycare at a pace far exceeding the speed limit, I cried out to the Lord in a voice that didn’t even sound human. I raced down the freeway with hazard lights on, honking my horn so other cars would move over, praying for the Lord’s will. I knew from all the Bible stories I had heard and read in all my years of going to church that God was a God of miracles, and if it was His will, I knew He was able to bring her back, I knew there was a way. I prayed fervently that she would be saved, but I also prayed “if it is Your will.”
When I got to the daycare there were police cars, an ambulance, tons of local first responders. Many faces I recognized from our small town. Then I saw my husband, Kent. He got the call while working just down the road cutting hay for his landscape business. He got to the daycare before any first responders and was witness to our sweet Kassidy being given CPR by my uncle who owned the daycare; he tried his best to revive her. Kent met me at the door of the daycare and we fell to the ground in a heap in each other’s arms.
When we went inside, law enforcement personnel, one of whom was my step-father-in-law, would not let me in the nursery area until the Medical Examiner had completed the initial investigation. I was in utter disbelief that this was actually happening. After what seemed like forever, they asked us to sit down, and brought Kassidy to us. They said I could hold her, reluctantly after I begged them, but they asked me not to disrupt anything as they would need to do a more thorough investigation. When I held Kassidy’s tiny little body in my arms, I prayed over her, I thanked the Lord for her, and even when the medical examiner wanted to take her away, I still knew the Lord was able to fully restore her to our family.
For weeks and months later I honestly had thoughts in my mind when I went to the cemetery that her little grave would be opened up and there she would be, just waiting for me to hold her in my arms again and bring her home. But that never happened. I knew my God was able, but He didn’t. When we would sing the song “Mighty to Save” at church I would fight back tears and wonder why God who is mighty to save, didn’t.…at least not in the way I wanted. The Lord had always answered my requests with a “yes,” or so it had seemed…but not this time.
We made it through those first days, weeks, and months due to the prayers of many of our friends, family and church family. We were ministered to with many meals brought to our home, hugs, cards, and gentle smiles while we were out in the community and at church. At home, it broke my heart each night as Kole would end his bedtime prayers with, “and please give Kassi a hug from me.” And Kayla who had just turned three the day before Kassidy died kept saying, “why can’t Kassi come down from heaven to be with us again?” There were so many questions that I didn’t have answers to from my precious son and daughter who terribly missed their treasured sister.
While nearly 7 years have gone by now, I still miss Kassi each and every day. I will never be able to understand on this side of eternity why Kassi was taken from us so soon, but what I have learned are the truths found in Psalm 34:18 and Psalm 46:1. These verses tell us that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” and that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
Through the loss of Kassidy I have learned that there are times in life when God will give us more than we can handle. These times are designed to drive us to Him so that we can rely on Him and experience His strength and comfort. Matthew 5:6 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” How blessed I am to serve a God who loves me and is the God of all comfort.
Further, in reading God’s Word, I have found that the Bible isn’t full of happy fluffy stories. The pages contain accounts of real people with real problems who went through hard times. Over and over we read of hurting people who cried out to God, but we also see God who wants to be there during times of greatest need.
Jennifer Kennedy Dean the author of Set Apart says, “Life on planet earth is punctuated with mourning. A promise of escape from sorrow does not take effect until we escape our physical, earth-bound bodies. Our eternal home is free of sorrow, but this earth is not.”
Our family often talks about the day we’ll see Kassidy again, but even more, we look forward to when we will see Jesus! Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Won’t that be amazing?!
If you are facing an overwhelming situation today, don’t try to face it alone. Turn to God who is your refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. Where do you find hope when everything around you is crashing down? Knowing that life is hard and that in this life there will be trouble, how will you/do you face these times?
My prayer is that when life becomes hard you will not try to go it alone, but rather that you will turn to Jesus and experience the strength and comfort that only He can provide.
Only through God’s strength and comfort am I able to say today the words of Job 1:21b, “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.”