This is a guest post by my friend and author JacQueline Roe. In the midst of releasing her fiction series of retold fairytales, her family faced a devastating loss. Read as she shares her journey of clinging to God’s goodness and grappling with grief in the middle of a publishing deadline.
Is God good when bad things happen?
My life has never been a fairytale. Like many of you, our family has endured tragedies that have tested our faith. Have you found, like me, that each crisis brings us to our breaking point and we beg God to show us why He allows such hard things? By His grace alone we hold on, waiting, listening. I have discovered in the waiting that He is indeed good, though I can’t define with words how He reveals this to me. It is more than a feeling, for feelings leave me empty. There is an assurance that He is at work and that He is not yet finished. (see Philippians 1:6)
This belief that God is faithful and good, worthy of all our hope and trust, was hit hard during the Thanksgiving holiday of 2018. My beloved brain-injured sister Joy, whom I usually cared for, was visiting our youngest sister. After Joy went to bed one night, a truck ran over her. I woke in the middle of the night at my in-law’s house a few states away to a phone call detailing the grisly accident. How does a truck run into and through a house, killing sweet Joy who normally didn’t even sleep there? Why does God allow bad things to happen? Was God in control? If so, how could He be trustworthy and good?
I returned home in a state of shock and I’ll admit, I’m still reeling. Like most people in grief, I make simple mistakes that reveal my mind has not accepted the fact that Joy is no longer with me, that her life on this earth is finished. I bake potatoes and realize that again, I have made one too many. I look for her when things seem too quiet. Other times, I imagine I hear her, and almost call out to her.
What could a fairytale story mean in the wake of this tragedy?
The world doesn’t stop when something bad happens to us, does it? We still have to wake up, take the dog for a walk, get the kids to school, go to work. As an author, I faced a deadline right after the Thanksgiving holiday, but returning to publishing after such a great loss seemed strange, almost pointless.
What could a fairytale story mean in the wake of this tragedy? How could my family and loved ones sorting through this loss hope to glean from something so trivial? But God helped me put one foot in front of the other and I discovered while my feelings couldn’t be trusted, God was already at work using a story He had helped me pen to begin the healing process.
The fairytale world I created depicts the story of Rapunzel from an odd angle. It asks, What happened to Rapunzel after she was cast into the wilderness by the witch? What would she think of the God who allowed her to struggle in isolation all of her life?
As an indie author, I began sharing little snippets from the book to my readers across social media, and each time I did I came face to face with the question of whether I could continue to trust in God. I had written originally to encourage young women that God was good in the midst of what looked terrible. I included a book discussion at the end to prompt parents and Bible study leaders to unearth some hard questions about faith with those they were discipling.
But now, God was using those very questions to make me dig a little deeper. Did I believe the message of my own book?
Here I was, wandering around in the wilderness of grief questioning what God was thinking. Like the Israelites in the book of Psalms, I had to recall to mind all the ways He had been with me in the past, all the ways He had proved Himself faithful.
Don’t stop asking God hard questions
In the midst of my sorrow, I have started praying for each person who picks up the first book and then continues to read through the series. I am praying that they won’t stop asking God the hard questions that He is big enough to handle. I am praying for their faith, for my faith, for the faith of the church.
Again and again, God reminds me that His faithfulness is at work and He is using the difficult things in our lives, dear friend, to continue His good work to make us more like Him (see 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). We can’t see what He is up to or what the end result will be, but if we can remember how good He is and has been, we can trust Him to continue to be good.
As we battle with unknown hardships – loss of a loved one, a health crisis, financial struggle, etc. – I am praying we will not let go, we will cling to God and ask that He help us to believe, to know that He is indeed good.
A lover of books and fairytales, JacQueline uses her faith and life experience with chronic pain/depression to discover new ways of telling old stories as well as her own. She lives in North Alabama with her amazing karate husband and three book-crazy children. She takes every opportunity to drink coffee while wearing dangly earrings and the color purple.
Visit her at https://authorjroe.com and join her newsletter to receive a FREE copy of “Before the Tower,” the origin story in The Journey Series. You can purchase her novels or inspirational nonfiction at Amazon or Kobo or Barnes & Noble.
JacQueline Vaughn Roe says
Thank you for this opportunity, Erica. Your readers are amazing, brave people and I am blessed to connect with them.
Erica Baldwin says
Thankful to have your brave voice in this space!