When I was eleven, my dad passed away from cancer. The illness, the sadness, the visitation, and the funeral were all hard. But one of the hardest parts was listening to people tell me that losing my dad was part of God’s plan.
I know that I’m not the only one who has heard these words in hard times. And I know at one point I tried to convince myself they were true. As people expressed their sympathies during my dad’s visitation, I remember quietly nodding and accepting their hugs and handshakes. But the phrases implying that this terrible, awful, painful thing was part of God’s plan brought me very little comfort. Losing my dad felt awful. Why would God want that for me? Why would that be part of His plan for my dad, for my family, and for me?
These kinds of phrases blurred together with the rest of my dad’s visitation and funeral service, but I still remember one thing about that time very clearly; during my dad’s funeral service our family friend sang an old hymn. One of the lines said, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”
In that moment, as she sung at the front of the beautiful, small-town church my dad’s family had attended for decades, the words didn’t mean very much to me. But as time went on they reminded me that no matter how small I felt or how many hard things I experienced, my God was bigger. His love was bigger and He would never forget about me.
While the words of that song didn’t suddenly make the pain go away, they did remind me that no matter what comes my way, God is always with me. The reality is it still hurts that I can’t hang out with my dad or talk to him. He wasn’t able to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day and he never had the chance to hear my two-year-old daughter’s contagious laugh. But now I know I don’t have to figure out why he died or how God is working through it. That’s not the point. The point is trusting that my heavenly Father is always available, always aware, and always watching over me. Even if I had to tattoo the words from that old hymn on my shoulder to remind me every day of this truth.
Regardless of what people have said during the hard things I’ve experienced, or the times where it simply doesn’t seem fair, I remember that the point in all of this is that God loves me. And no matter what you’re going through, He loves you, too.
And that will never change.
- Kelli Gilmore