I’ve found over time that the most impactful stories are usually full of hardship. Whether it be rising action into climax of a movie or book, or a tear-jerking story of a hopeless situation turned miracle, there is always something difficult that the hero must overcome.
Personally, I believe that hardship, trial, evil, and anything that seems unfair comes from a single event in the history of mankind. It can all be traced back to Adam and Eve, who, given free choice, chose to disobey God’s one rule. They had it all but wanted more.
This year has been a crazy one. When people ask how we’re doing, Jacy and I don’t really know how to answer. It’s been the most wild ride of our lives, and it seems to only be growing exponentially more difficult.
They say the first year of marriage is the most difficult, but I don’t think they were talking about this kind of difficulty. I guess I should explain.
We got married last November, and I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but our wedding was amazing. It was a dream. We enjoyed a few months of honeymoon-like-bliss while we adjusted to our new lives (we’re traditional, that means we didn’t live together before marriage, abstaining from all the you-know-what stuff…).
I got to marry my best friend, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.
Jacy has three sisters. They’re all J names. They are funny, spunky, gorgeous and everything opposite of me. I never had a woman in my house after my mom died at age 9, so these ladies threw me for a loop (in all the best ways, of course). The girls have great parents. They are a tight-knit group full of memories, love, and traditions (one of which, eating Monical’s pizza every Sunday, may have to become a Hermes tradition as well).
Now, over the last couple of years I had become very close to the one male in the family. Bill James, the most gentle, wise man you’ll ever meet. If you’ve met him, you surely like him, and if you haven’t met him, you’re missing out. I don’t think you can find a more genuine, kind, and thoughtful person on this earth.
Bill is one-of-a-kind. If you’ve met his daughters, you can see how they were raised knowing how important they are. Bill taught my wife that she is important and beautiful way before I came along. She knew her identity because her father showed it to her.
Okay, here comes the hard stuff I alluded to earlier.
Early this year, Bill had a major heart attack. We’re talking 100% blockage of the widow-maker artery (who names these things?!). We about lost Bill, and I quickly learned that I had better step up and help my new family to find strength in God in the midst of a trial. We had a rough few weeks, but God healed Bill and brought him through. Bill is a runner. He’s disciplined, smart, and a real fighter. He wasn’t going down that easy.
I remember Jacy saying after the heart attack, “I don’t think I couldn’t handle something like that again. It was too hard.”
It’s funny (not actually funny, but ironic), that we say things like that and then watch from afar as we are thrown into yet another impossibly difficult hardship. It seems to always happen that way. We doubt our strength, our ability, our courage, and then are forced to see that we do have what it takes. That we can overcome.
In June, as a result of many factors that we still don’t understand, Bill ended up in a hospital in Knoxville, TN getting brain surgery to remove blood clots that had formed there from internal bleeding. We all got down there as quick as we could. When we arrived, Bill, through tired eyes, said that he felt bad that we had made the long trip just to see him. The next day Bill was in a coma.
Skip ahead four weeks of hotel rooms with five women, long car rides, and sleepless nights full of tears and shouting at God, and we finally found some breakthrough.
The doctor said that Bill was unlikely to wake up. If he did wake up, it was likely that he would have a much different quality of life for the rest of his life.
Two days after that report, after prayer and fasting of the church, Bill began to awaken. The doctor was in awe. Fast forward a couple of weeks, and we finally got Bill back to Bloomington. The trip was hard for him, but today (August 10) I can say that he is responding to commands, trying to open his eyes, and is on his way to recovery.
I’m not trying to make a terrible situation look like something good. Instead, I want to attempt to look at the bigger picture.
God’s word is full of promises that at times seem to be unattainable. In times of trial, I think the enemy shouts lies at us, and many times we grab them and choose to make them the truth. I have found that the lies look differently in my wife’s life than mine, but they exist in both. We’ve spent a lot of nights crying and being angry at God for what is happening. I’m thankful that we have such a loving Father that He allows us to feel and be angry.
I don’t know why bad things happen to good people. I won’t attempt to pretend like I see why all of this is happening.
But I know this: “we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Through this time, I’ve often looked at how God used the death of my mom for good. I look at who he has created me to be, and even how I am able to help and sustain my wife and her family through this time because of the trial that I endured at a young age. We never want to choose for bad things to happen to us. But the glory of God is hidden in trials. He works it together for good, even though there was no good in it at all.
At the end of all of this, I want James 1:2-4 to be true about the way this has affected my family, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I know that at the end of this messy year, we will be able to look back and see God’s hand on every part of this story. We will be able to say that God was faithful even though we weren’t. We’ll be more equipped to help others in their time of need. And most importantly, we will have learned to say, like Bob Sorge,
God, I don’t understand you. But I love you.