In a seven-foot ditch surrounding my sister's house, my husband, Porter, worked all day applying the waterproofing substance to the foundation of her home. Realizing the substance was highly flammable, Porter felt confident that working outdoors would allow the fumes to escape preventing any danger. Unfortunately, as he worked, the fumes mounted in the ditch. With only five feet left to finish, the outside heating and air unit clicked on igniting the fumes, and the ditch exploded. The blast of fire left Porter severely burned on over eighty percent of his body. In the hospital, I helplessly watched him lay in excruciating pain for eight days before he died. Suddenly, I found myself alone, a brand new mother and a widow at the age of twenty-one.

When Porter left that morning to work on my sister's house, I had no idea that he would never come home again. I didn't know when he kissed me good-bye that it would be the last, or that his newly born son would never know him. After that day, Porter never grew older as I had imagined we both would. Instead, he will forever be young in my heart and mind. How would I get through this crisis?

During the following days, I often turned to God's Word for answers. A verse in the book of James annoyed me as I read count it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. Let patience have its perfect work, so that you may be perfect, complete and lacking in nothing (1:2-4, NKJ). Where was the joy, I wanted to ask James, when I walked into the emergency room and couldn't recognize my husband? His skin had turned completely black, his head was twice the normal size, and the skin on his arms was missing. Yet, the Bible said I would experience trials.

While some grief, such as death, may take a lifetime to heal, the good news is that during that lifetime you can, once again, experience joy. Over the years, I've found joy by discovering that my grief is in fact working for my good. Still, having joy doesn't mean that I will never feel pain. God created my emotions so it's acceptable to grieve. On the other hand, I don't have to remain in dismay. Looking at my life before grief, during grief, and after grief, combined with God's Word, I began to see the purpose of my burden. God was at work in my grief making me perfect, complete and lacking in nothing (James1: 4, NKJ).

My Life before grief felt as if all of my dreams had come true. Not long after we were married, God blessed us with a beautiful baby boy. Life was going just as I had planned. However, did you know that God's plans are not always our plans? Isaiah 55:8-9 says it like this, My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways. For My ways are higher than yours ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts (NKJ). I didn't know God had a different plan than mine until the night my husband died. As a result, my life of grief began.

My Life during grief was lonely without him. I felt angry and betrayed by the God I had loved since I was a little child. I locked those feelings in my heart, as if God didn't know how I felt toward Him. Then one night I reached a desperate point, and cried out to God. Bursting through the door to the thrown room of grace, I shook my fist in His face and boldly questioned, "Why-why did you do this to me?' Oh God, I need to know why!" Just as a mother runs to her screaming child, so did God the Father run to me, His child. I didn't see Him with my eyes or touch Him with my hands, but I felt His presence consume me as if God poured Himself over my entire body. In the comfort of His presence, I was compelled to read Psalm 139. Is there anyplace you can go from my spirit? If you climb to the sky, I am there! If you go underground, I am there! (v.7-8, The Message). I knew then that my Lord had not betrayed me, He had come to say, "I am here!" Healing began as I cried out to God and allowed Him to carry me through the painful moments. This process continued until He lifted me to a new level of grace.