When You Don’t Understand Why

Sorrow is something we have all experienced in our lives. No one is immune to it. Our world is a sinful place and we are always experiencing the results of that. It’s easy to tell someone experiencing sorrow all the same platitudes:

“The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

“All things work together for good to them that love Him.”

“God has a bigger plan.”

Those sayings are all true, and often we come to see that what we lost needed to be lost so that we could gain something better. But what about the times we can’t understand why? What happens when we lose something that can’t be replaced? What are we supposed to think then?

The summer that my husband and I were married was also the summer that my younger brother-in-law started seeing his girlfriend Ashley. She was in Hawaii for the summer with her dad and came home just a few days before our wedding. I instantly loved her. She was the kind of girl that never stops smiling, that hugs people she just met, that laughs so often and so loudly that people are always looking at you when you’re with her. But I was a newlywed and very absorbed in my new marriage and life. School was starting and I was busy with my new class of first graders and learning how to juggle being a wife and a teacher. Quite simply, I was very self-involved. We saw Ashley at church and at family get-togethers but didn’t spend very much time with her outside of that. She was with my brother-in-law all the time, but my husband and I were wrapped up in our own life together. And then she was gone.

Just three short months after I met her she was killed in a car accident. It was the worst night of my life. We had been at our church all day for our special Fall Festival Sunday. Then my husband and his brothers and some other guys played football while the girls watched. Those were my last conversations with Ashley and I wasted them because I was miserably cold and wanted to leave. We were driving in a caravan to a friend’s house after the football game. My oldest brother-in-law was in the lead with his wife. My younger brother-in-law was behind him and Ashley was behind him. My husband and I had been the last to leave, so we were in the back of the pack. We were nearing the exit to our home and debating on whether we should stop and change clothes really quickly when we saw a string of brake lights ahead. Traffic was almost stopped. So we decided to take our exit and stop by our house before going to our friend’s house. We had just walked in the house when we got the phone call from my husband’s mom. Ashley had been in a wreck. Were we behind her? We asked how serious the accident was but she didn’t know. My younger brother-in-law had stopped at the scene and wasn’t able to drive from there so we went to pick him up. I had to drive him to the hospital while my husband picked up his car. I could tell from his reaction that things were bad. I was so anxious and I didn’t know what to say to him. I couldn’t get to the hospital fast enough.

As soon as we reached the emergency room we were whisked into a prayer room with the rest of the family and Ashley’s mom. Tears were on every face. It didn’t look good. We prayed and prayed and then moved into a waiting room near the ICU and prayed some more. We heard the “code blue” several times before someone finally came out and told us she was gone. I have never felt more numb. The tears came but the words didn’t. I watched my brother-in-law’s heart break. I heard her closest friends’ screams. There was no consolation in that moment. I remember walking through the halls of the hospital in the middle of the night as we finally were going home just whispering, “I wanted her to be my sister. She was supposed to be my sister.”

We found out that the guy who caused the accident was high on drugs. It was no accident; it was the result of a terrible choice. And it could never be reversed. My sweet friend Ashley is in heaven now. I am so grateful for the hope I have knowing that she was a true believer of God and that I will see her again. I am happy for her that she is free from the pains of this world and worshipping Jesus right now. But nothing will ever be able to take away the regret I feel that I did not know her better and love her more. I assumed I had the rest of my life to build a relationship with her and I wasted precious days that I can never get back.

Why? Why did this happen? You know, I have tried so many times to see how this could possibly have made our lives better somehow. I can’t. I have tried to understand the good that could come out of the loss of this precious life. I don’t. Sometimes you don’t get to know why. Sometimes you have to trust God even though it doesn’t make sense. That is the true test of faith.

I recently read that as I go through difficult circumstances I will have to learn to be patient, work harder, and abandon my selfish attitude - that I will become more like God. Maybe sometimes that is all we can do. I can’t fathom why God would take my sweet friend away when she was a true light in this dark world. I don’t understand why He would take her when we saw the potential she had to reach others for Christ. I will never understand why He chose to take her when He did. But I will not waste it. I will choose to take what I can from the time I had with her and become a better person myself. Because being bitter would only waste the pain that God allowed in my life. It would be the last thing she would have wanted. So I choose to use my pain to become a better person! I know now that relationships are what life is all about. God puts people into our lives for a reason and we shouldn’t take them for granted. I have learned to be intentional about the friendships I form and honest with my words. I have learned to look outside of my own life and see if the people around me have any needs that I can meet. I still have a lot of growing to do in these areas, but when I remember Ashley, I remember how important these things are.

When you don’t understand why God has allowed this circumstance in your life, determine to use it anyway. The rain is what makes the flowers grow. The dark night is what makes the stars shine brighter. And when I trust God through life’s difficult times I become more like Him! And ultimately, isn’t that the whole point?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
- James 1:2-4


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