In the After
We have all been watching the news and heard about a tragic accident or death. You might be like me, and you listen to true-crime podcasts filled with horrendous stories. Or you have read a post on social media from someone you know who has just experienced life-changing trauma.
You stop for a moment and say, “How sad. How do they even get up in the morning? How do they go on?” Then you continue to go about your day.
Until, one day, it’s you. You’re the one on the news due to a horrific accident. Your family is featured on the podcast because of a fatal crime. You’re the one posting about a traumatic experience on social media. All of a sudden, everything changes.
Having lost two of my four heavenly babies to second trimester miscarriages, I now view my life in two sections: before and after. Before trauma and after trauma. In the before, my view of the world had a rosy haze. I dreamed impossible dreams and lived my life without any real worries. Before was a safe haven, a place of solace. I had no idea the terrors that were to come. I imagined a happy life with fulfillment around every corner. Often times, I wish I could go back. I don’t know if I would warn myself of the horrors to come, or just enjoy the moments of blind bliss. It doesn’t matter, no one can go back.
Now, I live in the after. A place I never thought I would reside. I would have never been able to predict the many heartaches of my life. No one believes they will be the victim in their own story. We all want to be the hero, the one with the happy ending. We never dream of the harsh reality that trauma comes for us all.
I have often wondered how life can be so unfair. Why do some parents have to bury their children? Why do God-fearing people get cancer? Why do some people have chemical imbalances that cause mental illness, while others walk around care free? Why? Why? Why? These are questions no one will ever be able to answer this side of heaven. So, how do we keep going when nothing makes sense?
As I write this, I think about two scriptures I have grown up hearing. The first is Romans 8:28 that says, “For we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” The second is Jeremiah 29:11 which states, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future.”
In the before, I used to cling to these scriptures. They gave me such hope. God has a plan and purpose for my life that is meant for my good. Good. He desires good for me. In the after, I started to realize that good must not mean what I think it means. In the past seven years, my husband and I have lost both of his parents and four children of ours have gone to be with the Lord before their births. We have witnessed close friends be diagnosed with cancer and others experience failed adoptions. We have seen a lot of darkness.
BUT if you ask my husband, he will earnestly say our life together is good. This has blown my mind on more than one occasion. How can he say our lives are good with all the pain we are experiencing? It’s because he has come to a conclusion that not many people come to. He has realized that the only good he needs is the cross of Calvary. The only truly good thing is the saving grace that comes from the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is good.
Now, my husband is a chronic optimist, but he is definitely onto something. What if we started viewing our lives through this lens? Knowing that true goodness comes from the cross and everything else is just a blessing. A shift in perspective changes everything.
Last week, my husband said, “Goodness is not deprived of suffering, it is often made by it.”
This got me thinking. Jesus died so that we could know God. His gruesome, disgusting, torture-filled death resulted in good for all who repent and believe. I’d say His suffering created true and perfect goodness through the hope of salvation, wouldn’t you agree?
I know that everyone who takes the time to read this is living in their own after. I don’t know the pain or trauma you have faced. I don’t even know all of you personally. I do know that there is nothing God can’t use for good if we are willing to surrender our lives to Him. If we remember His goodness in the after we all face. If we cling to the cross and let everything else fade away. So, follow me into the unknown. Where the true goodness of this life is. Where we know there is hope and a future waiting for us.
How has trauma changed the way you see the world? How has God given you hope moving forward? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.