“Winter” in LA looks much different than Minnesota where everything seems to be shades of black and white.
In the early hours of Thanksgiving morning we got a call that our niece, Danika, had been rushed to the hospital and was fighting for her life. During the week we stood by, getting updates from the family, praying and waiting.
My Dad was so generous to fly Eric out during that week so he could be with the family during the fight. However, a couple of days later, I was on my way out to LA as well…
Danika had a special way of bringing so many people together. People from all over the world flew in to be with the family and honor her life and now, her memory.
After the UFC fight ended so suddenly we watched previously recorded Skype calls with Danika in them.
Family toasting to the gift of Danika’s life.
It was really so incredible to watch a group of people who so strongly believed and trusted in the sovereignty of God, grieve the loss of the one they love. There was absolutely heartache, moments of anger and unbelief but what I mostly remember was a joyful confidence that God is always GOOD and He WILL be glorified.
I’ve suffered poorly before in my life when I failed to trust in the sovereignty of God or His goodness. Without trusting that His will is one that no man can thwart, I was left to snowball all of the questions; the “what ifs…”, the “but if I just…”, or probably the most difficult to understand at the time, “WHY?“.
Unable to answer these questions left me fearful and regretful not confident and hopeful. Trials came, suffering took place in my heart and in the midst of the storm I had forgotten to trust that the One who made me wrote all of my days in a book before I was ever born. He bound the pages of my life together with His goodness and sealed them with a confident declaration that not one page would fall out, apart from His will. I had forgotten that if He could hold and measure the waters in the palm of His hand, then He could surely hold everything in my tiny little life together according to His perfect plan that He had from the beginning.
Danika’s life and her “sudden” death has further impressed upon me the brevity of life. I’m reminded that we aren’t ever guaranteed another day with the ones we love. Her life was a gift for as little or as much time that the Lord had predestined.
Writing this I’m reminded of the Connecticut tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I think of all the little ones who were unjustly caught in the fire of one man and his anger. I think of the parents who got their kids ready for school that morning, thinking that this was just another Friday. I imagine they had plans for a pizza-movie night or building gingerbread houses; a Christmas tradition they’ve had with their little one for the last three years.
Everything can change in a moment.
In October at our wedding I joyfully talked about how “one night can change your life”.
In December, as we buried our niece, I realized how true and sobering that phrase could be.
Still, as the white horse coach pulled her casket up to the gravesite and as we flooded the area with flowers, lowering her body into the ground, knowing the tension of hope and grief, our song resounded with truth;
“Great is Thy Faithfulness…All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!”.