Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"The New Normal"

 As I sit here in the quiet of our home, the memories of the last few days come rolling across my heart like a wave crashing on the shore.   Life has changed for our family and we are all trying to find the "new normal" after the death of our oldest grandchild this past Thursday, January 9th.  It was sudden, unexpected and felt like a body blow when we got the call.  How could it be that this smiling six year old child with special needs was gone from us?  And yet, I remembered that life is brief on this earth and we do not know when the Lord will call us.  Isaiah 40:8 reads:  "The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of our God endures forever."  Only God and His promises remain the very thing we can cling too when heartache comes to us.  
     At the beginning of the New Year, I chose for my life verse Proverbs 3:5-6:  "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make straight your paths."  My theme for the year was trusting in God.  I thought to myself how ironic it was that my trust was being stretched to the max so early in the new year.  However, God's ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts.  I do not understand why our beloved grandchild was called home so early in his life.  Nevertheless, I cannot lean on my own perception.  Only a Sovereign God knows how to bring all the loose ends of life together for His glory and our good.  The question is, "Do I really believe that God is good even in the darkest valley?  Do I trust Him?"
     Scripture teaches us that God is unchanging, just, good, holy, righteous, perfect, loving, all knowing and that He weeps with those who weep.  Hebrews 13:8 reads:  "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."  In other words, we can fully rely on Him.  We also know that the Lord understands our pain and our trials.  When Lazarus died, "Jesus wept" (John 11:35).  He experienced our emotions fully and totally identified with us.  Hebrews 4:15-16 tells us:  "For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."  For myself, I feel more confident knowing that our Lord understands our sense of loss, our helpless feeling and is ready to provide us with His mercy and grace.  
     When Branson James Thayer was born on October 30, 2007, we knew something was wrong.  After testing, we knew he had a very rare brain malformation shared by a handful of people in the world.  We were not certain he would ever speak, walk, or be able to engage with others around him. Yet, he rose above so many obstacles, so many hospitalizations, and many seizures which his parents worked to prevent.  He was able to speak a few words and use other means to communicate.  He learned to walk and was certainly a very social little boy.  Our son and daughter in law poured their lives into his, and the entire family on both sides stood in full support and love.  We cheered him on, and his favorite phrase became "I did it" whenever he accomplished a task.  So why did God choose to call him home to heaven?  It is something I cannot answer except to say that our lives will forever be changed by the life he lived to the fullest.  God gave him to us for six years, and now he rests in the arms of Jesus where he is free to talk, walk, eat whatever he wants and experience freedom from seizures.  With that in mind, we do not wish him back to this life of limitations.  
     At present, we are the "walking wounded" as we work through our grief day by day and moment by moment.  Yet, we have hope that we will see Branson again because we believe and trust in the work of Jesus Christ our Savior.  He came, died for our sins and set us free from the bondage that held us captive.  In Him, we have the assurance that we will live eternally in His presence and see our loved ones who have died in the faith.  Yes, God knows the pain of loss for He sent His only Son to die for us who had no love for Him nor did we seek Him.  Because of that sacrifice, we can live in assurance that God forgives us and promises us eternal life.
     Our whole family is trying to learn about the "new normal" for us now that God has taken Branson home.  We are learning to trust the Lord on a new level now, and as we do, keep us in your prayers.  No one promised us an easy path in this world.  However, Jesus said He would never leave nor forsake us.  I close with these two verses of hope and strength:  Isaiah 43:2:  "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;  and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned and the flame shall not consume you."  In all of life's circumstances, Jesus is with us.  Likewise, our great and mighty God has a plan for each one of us.  Jeremiah 29:11 reads:  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. "  This is the God we serve.  A God of hope and a future.  He will lead us gently into our "new normal" as we watch His plan unfold in each of our lives.  Selah!                      

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