The valley of the shadow of death

The day dawned like the hundred before it. Bright and sunny and full of possibility. We were young and in love and about ready to start our journey as parents.

Our hearts were wayward, a seed of greed had been planted deep, and had been cultivating discontent and godlessness. Addictions and sins crowded out the voice of God, and we were at the top of the world while sitting at the bottom.

Day after Trevor's brain surgery. SO very pregnant
My heart aches with the hindsight of the present. What had been an amazing adventure turned out to be empty promises from those who told us they would walk beside us, mentor us, teach us. We had been promised so much, and we were left feeling cheated and empty. So we decided to take matters into our own proud hands.

So here we were. The day dawned bright. We were visiting a friend in the VA hospital. I was filled to brim with life, ready any day to bring forth this little stranger. What was supposed to be a quick trip turned out to be the shot from the pistol that started the race of  lifetime.

Vagual response they said, the night of September 30th, 2009, when my life came crashing down around me. Just a normal reaction to the sight of blood from our friend in the hospital. But. That "but," that small word, took hold of me and shook me at the core of my very existence.

And what a beautiful, incredible awakening. Last night, as I grabbed a book I hadn't picked up since April, and flipped through to today's devotional, I read,

"God has graciously allowed some of my fears to come true so I would discover I would not disintegrate."

Since my dad committed suicide when I was 3, my step-dad and mother abandoned my sisters and I, and my mom drank herself to death, I have developed the belief that people will leave, or they will be taken from me. I had believed, in my heart, that Trevor would die and leave me a widow. And God, in His wisdom, used my biggest fear to prove to me that if it did happen, I would not die. That God was bigger and able to uphold me if even the worst came to pass.

God rebukes and disciplines in love.  He does not punish us with harshness and shame, but leads us to repentance. I believe with everything inside of me that what happened 4 years ago today was to shake us out of our complacency and sin. To show us just how far we had strayed. To begin a new thing in our hearts. To show us how gracious and merciful He really, truly is.

He led us beside still waters those weeks after the diagnosis. He had let my worst fears come true. The night before the surgery, I knelt in Jeremiah's soon to be nursery and dry eyed, for I had cried myself dry, I just sat before Yahweh, God Almighty, and surrendered. Surrendered my selfish, wayward heart, to do with as He pleased. Trevor could have died, I knew that was a huge possibility. He could have had brain cancer and we might not be able to have anymore children. But I didn't dwell on those thoughts as they came sneaking in that night. I just sat there, as the presence of God, so faithful, so sweet, surrounded me in my darkest hour.

I had some of the darkest days of my life in that month of October, 2009. I suffered from extreme anxiety, and Trevor's personality had changed. We lost our job, our house, our health insurance. I took care of Jeremiah by myself, having just had a c-section, a first time mom who didn't know what in the world I was doing, as my husband lay down the hall, healing and sleeping most of the day/night. But it could have been much worse. God was gracious and spared us, and I am humbled. He didn't have to spare us. Our sin was so deep and our life was so off-course, He would have been justified to allow circumstances to be worse

And yet here we are, 4 years later, 3 healthy kids, 1 on the way, 1 very healthy husband with virtually no side-effects. And I have a deep assurance that though the earth give way, and the mountains crumble into the ocean, if death or disease or loss attack my life, I am surrounded by the presence of the Almighty God, and His strong hand will uphold me. That is what I am focusing on today. Everything that was gained by the events of 4 years ago. I would do it all over again, because I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. We are filled with joy because God has done great things for us!

Has God ever used one of your biggest fears come true to teach you a big lesson about His sovereignty and faithfulness?
What if your greatest fear came true today? Would you be able to stand upon the solid rock that is our God?


  1. This is beautiful. Because that is how our God works, he makes beauty of ashes and gladness of mourning. I always pray that if I were ever to be faced with a mountain that seemed immovable, my faith would stand. These are the testimonies that show me that it's possible.

    1. Thank you LeAnna! God does bring beauty from ashes. One of my favorite things about Him :) It IS possible!

  2. Wow Marybeth...I don't really know what to really had a hard life and still so young...all I can say is God is good!! I had a difficult situation a few years ago and I've tasted His goodness and His grace:) with God all things are possible!! I wish you and your family all good and many blessings!


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