The Bible tells us that God’s timing is perfect. This is meant to comfort us and give us hope for future hope when things are unfinished or incomplete in our lives. Many people wrestle with this. Myself included.
My 18-year-old son David died in 2010. There are so many areas of my life, my grief that demand healing.
Why won’t you just heal me now God? You know I desperately need it! Why wait?
Yet, God tells us to trust Him in the messy, unfinished in-between.
Easier said than done.
In 2019, our family spent the week after Christmas in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. I love spending time in the sun and falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing on the beach (no need for a noise app here!) or barking sea lions in the morning (or an alarm!). There is one thing I do not particularly look forward to; the fireworks on New Year’s Eve, or any time for that matter.
The sound and smell of fireworks always take me back to the events that took place the day that David died. I always try to stop it mid-stream but PTSD has a mind and force of its own. (I reference more details about David’s death in Chapter 1 of my book Raw Survival, which can be found here).
We attended a fancy New Year’s Eve dinner that evening with our extended family at the resort next to ours. The decorations were elaborate, the food was very good and the live band was awesome, but I couldn’t ignore what would soon follow.
The beach was already overflowing with people, and many boats dropped anchor in the Sea of Cortez Bay. The infamous Land’s End rock formation would be the perfect backdrop for watching fireworks.
It was different for me. Not wanting to bring attention to my struggle, my husband and I politely excused ourselves from the table and made our way back to our room where I would hunker down and try to sleep until it was over.
The first pop woke me. I sat up in bed and heard the second and the third. Then I did something surprising. I walked out on our patio and began to watch the fireworks along with the large crowd of spectators. I had no rapid heartbeat. I had no anxiety. There were no flashbacks of the day David died. While it sounded like rapid gunfire all around me, the only thing I focused on was the most incredible display of fireworks I had ever seen in my life, like I was experiencing them for the first time in my life. I couldn’t take my eyes off the picture postcard in the sky. Instead of anxiety, I felt awe in the beauty of it, and instead of PTSD, I felt joy in the moment. A joy that went much deeper than the celebration taking place all around me.
The joy I felt encompassed God’s healing power and a thankfulness too great to describe. This revelation was just as beautiful as the lights dancing in the sky above me. It mirrored the thankfulness in my heart.
Tears filled my eyes. I was overcome with emotion. God knew that this New Year’s Eve would be different for me. It’s time for you to put this part of your journey behind you Jan.
What’s next Lord? Can you give me a hint? I can hardly wait for you to place the next piece of the puzzle alongside this one!
What just happened?! When the clock struck midnight, I found healing I hadn’t felt in nine and a half years. That’s a long time to wait. It’s a long time to pray for help. It’s a long time to suffer through every Independence Day, New Year’s Eve, and other fireworks-worthy celebrations. Regardless of the time it took to get here, it also made it worth it somehow. I can be thankful for the journey because it makes the victory that much sweeter. God is still writing my story as I continue to struggle with losing David. There is more to come. There is more healing to come. I just know it!
I have no idea what will happen the next time I hear fireworks, but based on what I think I know, I believe I will see them with fresh eyes and a restored heart that’s a bit stronger than it once was.
I’m not sure we’ll ever understand God’s timing; how He hears and tends to our brokenness, while at other times He waits to bring healing and restoration, but I can tell you, it’s worth the wait. I pray that 2022 brings you renewed hope as you trust the Lord with all of your in-betweens.