Most people don’t like to talk about death. It’s a hard reality for us to face. Even so, this theme is discussed all throughout scripture. Jesus himself presents a paradox about death and life in Matthew 10:39, “Whoever finds heir life will lose it, and whoever loses their life, for my sake will find it.” Dying is living, living is dying. In saying this, Jesus wasn’t just preparing His disciples for His eminent death on a cross; He was also preparing them for the persecution and suffering they would endure.
In 2010 I experienced a year of intense suffering. It started out with me being unexpectedly laid off from my social work job. I loved my job! Honestly, so much of me was wrapped up in what I did. How could God take away what I loved to do, what I thought He had called me to do with my life?
About six months later, when life seemed to return back to normal, I experienced a loss that changed me forever. One of my best friends, the person who introduced me to my husband, was on life support fighting to take another breath.
Jaimee suffered all her life from a terminal disease called Cystic Fibrosis. We all never thought she would be fighting for her life at the young age of 24. Yet, she faced death with such courage and peace. She willingly laid down anything if it meant bringing God more glory, even if it meant losing her life. She was able to look at life like the apostle Paul, “…we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.”
When God strips us of people, possessions, and positions we often feel dead inside.
Losing her was a huge blow for me. I couldn’t believe that God would take her after all He had done to get her new lungs. The year continued with battles of anxiety and major digestive issues. It seemed so dark I felt so and alone.
When God strips us of people, possessions, and positions we often feel dead inside. We shake our fists at God and wonder, “What the heck are you doing, God?” But we really are only seeing what is in front of our eyes, not what God is doing.
Four years later, I can see more than just loss. I now can see what was gained.
God didn’t take a job I loved without a purpose. He was simply setting the stage for me to step into my true calling. It was the job loss that freed me to pursue my dream of helping Fresno become a city without orphans by starting a non-profit that bridges the gaps between our local foster care system and our churches.
When I let God write my journey He did so much more than I could have asked or imagined. Why should I be surprised? When have my plans ever been better then God’s? He has been guiding me in every step.
Proverbs 16:9 says, “many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” Even though Jaimee wasn’t physically healed as we were praying for, I now see God was faithful to heal her in his own way. Through her death, the gospel has been heard all over the world. Her last words, “Tell them to love Christ, tell them to serve Christ,” inspire many hearts. I am confident that someday as I rejoice with Jamiee in heaven and we recount the lives brought to Jesus through the testimony of her death, she will say it was all worth it.
What is it that is that God may be asking you to lay down?
Lastly, the Lord even took my physical aliments and used them to do a work in me. The best part is he honored a hidden desire in my heart to be able start my family by choosing adoption first. He brought a beautiful five-year-old girl in our lives and gave us the privilege to live out the gospel through becoming her parents.
The weight of God’s glory always outweighs present suffering. God may not be asking you to lay down your physical life, but as followers of Christ there are things we need to die to in our lives. What is it that is that God may be asking you to lay down? Maybe it is putting to death greed in your heart, gossip, or like me, the need to be in control. When God’s people were on their way to the promise land, but found themselves in the desert longer than expected, God would often tell them, “Remember…” He would provoke their minds to mediate on what He had already done. How easily do we forget our past victories when we are in the valley? What has God already done in your life that you can recall His faithfulness? By doing this, we make a mental catalog of works to recall when we need it.
Even now, as I walk a new journey of waiting to find out if God will also bless my womb with a child someday, I recall His sovereign hand in my life. I know whatever the circumstances I face, I have already won the victory. May we always remember when we lay ourselves down at His feet in surrender, putting to death what God has asked of us, we have already won.
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Image Credit: Lyman Green, Creative Commons