Today’s story comes from a beautiful young woman whose entire life radiates the tender love of God. Her story is poignant and powerful, inviting us into her deepest grief, regret, and fears. But as we accept her invitation, we are also invited into the revelation she received of God’s goodness and sovereignty. Interestingly enough, this is a revelation very few receive outside of deep suffering.
Letting go is hard to do, and this young woman profoundly identifies and articulates the reason why. In order to understand it, she bravely had to become willing to go there. What she brings back for us is treasure which enriches our lives and our own journeys through grief and loss.
May you be inspired to believe and trust in the sovereign goodness of God today as you read her story. And may you share with others what you have gained by it so that, together, we can continue to see beauty and life come out of all our ashes and graves.
“My name is Fabiola, and this is my resurrection story…
I am a young adult that has fallen in love with a perfect, beautiful God whose character reveals the imperfections of my own life, but whose loving nature has taught me that I am worth loving despite it all.
What I want to share with you today doesn’t come easy to me and creates a knot in my throat. On November 1st, 2015, I lost my oldest brother, Gerson, to a fatal heart attack. It was the deepest pain my heart had ever felt; it was the closest encounter I’d ever had with death. In a matter of seconds I was convincing my mind of this new reality that it could not grasp; I could not understand it. I went days thinking about it; I wasn’t able to believe it or see it as truth.
My heart felt so heavy just thinking about the pain that he must’ve endured in his last moments. I felt as if my heart actually felt pain just thinking about his heart struggling for life. I wanted to go back in time, to go back and tell him to his face how much I loved him, something that I did not do often. To this day, I still wish I could go back and change so many things about my relationship with my brother. He always took care of me, he was always looking out for me.
This experience shook my family. It changed us all.
For a moment life became uncomfortable; movement felt foreign to me. It bothered me that people went on with their lives. It angered me because my brother’s life had come to a complete stop. It’s interesting to me now because I couldn’t find myself alone. I had the need to be around people because I was scared of where my thoughts would take me. I didn’t change much about my life. I thought it would be the healthy thing to do to continue everything as it was. I remember suppressing back emotions to give my mom room to grieve her son. In order to do this I needed to keep myself occupied. I kept going to school, to work, and to church. I kept being around my friends, but little by little my smile became tired. I became tired… and when I noticed, I realized that I had been trying to contain a neat mess.
Slowly I began to allow myself room. This part wasn’t easy. I stepped back and spent some time alone embracing grief, embracing a waterfall of emotions that needed to be let out. With that came a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety. I became an anxious person; every phone call scared me. Every time I would leave my house I would think it might be the last time I saw my parents. I tried to look at them in their eyes just so I could hold that moment, just in case anything happened. But God began to speak into my heart, He began asking if I could let go of those fears. And that’s the thing: sometimes we can’t let go of fears because they attach us to people, to situations. Giving up those fears to God meant giving up my family and those whom I loved. It meant trusting that anything God had done in the past and would do in the future was up to Him. I was getting to know a Sovereign God. A God that makes beautiful things, although it was hard for me to see any beauty come out of such darkness.
Isaiah 61:3 says, …“and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair…”
I was beginning to taste the oil of joy. I was beginning to believe that, “All things God works for the good of those who love Him…” as Romans 8:28 promises.
Knowing and believing that God is always good takes courage. Our minds are finite, and I thought I could understand God’s goodness, but my mind could only grasp so much of who God truly is. I was trying to fit God’s goodness into a box. I thought it would always feel good. But God is an infinite God; His ways are greater than ours. I was beginning to see God’s goodness in this very dark time, and I saw His grace like never before. He showed me the grace He had over my brother’s life and the grace He continued to have on my imperfect life.
God gave me a revelation about the criminal by the cross. This criminal was getting what he deserved by the way he had lived his life, but the one moment he spent next to Jesus changed the way he was going to live out his eternity. He cried out to Jesus – all this criminal had to say was Jesus’ name: “’Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘truly I tell you. Today you will be with me in paradise.’” This criminal just needed one look into the Savior’s eyes to catch His heart. And that same assurance of this passage is what God gave me for my brother. He assured me that He took him by his hand on his last moment, and this brought such peace to my heart. I truly believe that my brother – just like that criminal – needed only one moment to confess Jesus’ beautiful name and to catch His heart.
That’s God’s grace, His infinite goodness over our lives, and over the lives of our loved ones. To open our arms and let go of our fears is to embrace God’s goodness into our lives. We have to dare believe that God makes beautiful things. He turns ashes to beauty. His love can shine bright in a dark situation. Only He could provide peace that surpasses all understanding. And His grace goes beyond what we could ever deserve, but His loving nature accepts us into His presence.”