God's Sustaining Hand

By Missy Linkletter
Apache Trail Scenic Drive (Arizona) - 2020 All You Need to Know ...
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When we were a family of seven, I dimly understood that there was no guarantee of tomorrow. But, on July 15, 2017, I saw in full the meaning of the phrase, "This life is a vapor." (James 4:14) 

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and my firstborn, Justin, and two of his buddies were taking a day trip to go to the lake. They met up at the local Cracker Barrel and enjoyed an early dinner together. Afterward, they piled into Justin's Explorer and headed out for the lake.

After driving through the city, they turned onto the Apache Trail, which is known for its switchbacks and winding turns and an altogether dangerous state highway here in Arizona. As the story goes, Justin and his two friends were taking turns riding on the sideboards of his truck, one on each side. When it was Justin's to drive again, he slowly rounded a corner and then hit gravel. His two buddies jumped off of the sideboards when it was almost at a complete stop. But, tragically, Justin Explorer continued to slide in the gravel and then careened down the mountainside with Justin behind the wheel. By the time the emergency responders were able to reach him, our dear Justin had already passed away.

The early days of grief were filled with groanings I cannot adequately express. I was comforted and at peace that Justin loved the Lord, and I knew that he was in Heaven with Him. But, I was not at peace that my son died. I desperately ached for my boy. I grieved for the future wife that I would never have the pleasure meeting, and for the grandchildren that would never be. I mourned for the hole that he left in our family, for my daughter, who lost her best friend, and for my three young boys who lost their hero big-brother. My husband and I took turns being strong for each other and tried as we might to make sense out of chaos.

In my darkest night, it seemed like every single belief I held about God was laid bare on an examining table. In my anguish, the Lord revealed my heart. If you had asked me before we lost Justin if I thought Christians suffered, without a second thought, I would have confidently responded, "absolutely." But, when my firstborn was suddenly gone, I found myself agonizing over the thoughts like, "Did I do something wrong? Is God disciplining me?"

And then, I remembered Jesus' words, "I have told you these things, that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble…" (John 16:33a) The truth is, none of us is exempt from suffering; we will face trials in this life. Unbeknownst to me, Justin's days were numbered to twenty years. I would have never chosen this path, and still, I cannot deny the goodness and faithfulness of God. 

Losing Justin absolutely turned my world on its head. In my darkest moments, when I thought my heart might wither and die from anguish, I learned what it meant to have a seat at the table of suffering. The Lord is true to His Word, "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18) He has tended to my soul with the most gentle of care. He's comforted me with His Word and soothed my inner-turmoil with the peace of His presence. 

Today, we, along with the rest of the world, are facing a different kind of trial. My husband, who has worked in the travel industry for almost twenty years, was laid-off because of COVID-19. He is our sole income-earner, and we are facing yet another unprecedented crisis in our family. Much like with the loss of our son, again, Tim and I were blindsided with his lay-off.  

It is unsure how the travel industry will rebound when our country returns to work. I don't know if Tim's lay-off will be for the originally forecasted eight weeks or perhaps much longer. With this knowledge or lack thereof, I can quickly become worried.

So, when fear and doubt cloud my mind and bombard me with a roller-coaster of ten-thousand emotions, I cling to my hope and remember Paul's words in Romans 8:35-39,

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?  As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Just as the Lord upheld me through my crushing grief, so He sustains me in the wake of the unknown. I put my hope in Jesus, because no matter my circumstance, He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)

Missy Linkletter has been married to her best-friend,Tim, for nearly 25 years. Together they have five children with a crazy age-spread. Missy and her family live in a small rural town square in the middle of the desert in Arizona. When she’s not homeschooling her three youngest boys, you can find her with a pen and paper in hand ferociously scribbling down words she’s soon likely to forget. Missy’s passion is to help other women know the true, Living Water, that forever satisfies the longing soul. Her prayer is for every woman to treasure God and His Word above all else.  

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