God is still God in sorrow and loss - 20 November 2020
By Benescke Janse van Rensburg
The LORD says, “I am the one who strengthens you. Why should you fear mortals, who are no more enduring than grass?
The LORD is near to those who are discouraged; he saves those who have lost all hope.
Then the young women will dance and be happy, and men, young and old, will rejoice. I will comfort them and turn their mourning into joy, their sorrow into gladness.
Today I want to share an excerpt from my new book, God is stééds God with you. It is the story of former Protea netball player, Patrys van der Merwe and her husband, Jan-Hendrick. About a decade ago they stood next to the graves of two children after a freak accident on their farm.
One late afternoon, after the family took an afternoon nap, Jan-Hendrik wanted to go and check something on the farm. Their children, Kirsten (4) and Philip (1) wanted to go with him. For six months prior to this afternoon the passenger door of the old Cruiser with which Jan-Hendrik drove around on the farm, was stuck. Passengers therefore had to get in at the driver’s side. Jan-Hendrik and the children were about 200 meters away from the house and he was driving at 20 km/h when the passenger door flew open. The children fell out and ended up under the rear wheels. They both died instantly.
“It was heartbreaking to find my husband, who will not even harm a fly, with our children’s bodies next the dirt road,” Patrys remembers. “There, while waiting for help, we made a decision together that we will not allow this loss to tear us apart.”
Three weeks after the funeral, the couple went to see a psychologist in Cape Town. “On our way back home, I started crying,” says Patrys. “In my heart, I was overwhelmed by the idea of facing our ‘new normal’ – a quiet house without children. I had no idea how I would handle it.” She kept on praying that God would strengthen her.
The moment the couple drove through the gates of their farm, something unexpected awaited them. Patrys tells, “We could not believe our eyes. It was so unbelievable that we stopped and got out of the car. In the sky, right above our farm, we saw a clear cross in the clouds. We even took pictures as we thought that people would not believe what we tell them.” At that moment, Patrys experienced in her spirit God saying, “Do not be afraid. I’m here with you. I will walk with you in this season.” Peace descended on both Patrys and Jan-Hendrik knowing that God was present.
Nearly seven years later, after several miscarriages and with the help of fertility treatment, the couple was blessed with two beautiful sons. First Pietman and two years later, Daniel.
What is the attribute of God that stood out to you most during this season? Patrys thinks for a moment. “God was like a loving Father to us. I had no idea how we would cope, but He supernaturally protected us. Today we look back and can testify that He, just like He promised in the clouds, carried us through the darkest times! ”
God is still God. Even though we live in a fallen world with bad things happening to us at times, we can rest assured knowing that God is close to us during painful seasons. In Isaiah 51:12 He says, “I, yes I, am the one who comforts you.” In Psalm 34:19 we read, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” And in Jeremiah 31:13 He promises, “I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.”
What is your hurt? Did you lose a loved one too? Did you go through a divorce? Did you experience retrenchment at work? Perhaps a financial crisis? Barrenness? My prayer is that we will allow God to reveal Himself to us in every season. God bless.
Prayer: Father God, thank You for crying with me in difficult, painful times. Help me to keep my eyes on You. I ask this in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen