Dena Johnson Martin Christian Blog and Commentary

For Better or Worse...

For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, ‘till death do we part…

When we took those vows a little over six months ago, we never dreamed “or worse” would describe the first stage of our marriage.

But it has.

These last months have been filled with heartache and pain, with sadness and stress. We’ve watched helplessly as Roy’s daughter fought the demons that were controlling her. We fought for her with all of our might, constantly trying to reassure her of our love and God’s love.

We were faced with the difficult decision of a custody battle, not something we wanted but something we felt we had absolutely no choice in.

We walked with my daughter through more seizures and tests than we care to count.

We continue walking with all three of my kids through the grief of losing their dad almost two years ago. The trauma it has left on them is undeniable, and the journey to forgiveness and acceptance continues. We watch as they doubt their faith, the goodness of God, His love for them.

And now, only six months into our marriage, I must walk with my husband through the pain of losing his own father, his hero, the man who has been his number one cheerleader since his birth.

Yes, early Sunday morning, I stood with Roy as we watched his father ushered into the presence of his Savior. We watched as the cancer was defeated and the pain forever healed. We watched as his legs—once paralyzed by a tumor on his spine—were healed. We rejoiced as he began to dance on the streets of heaven, whole and complete again!

And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

We are blessed that Roy’s dad knew the Savior, that he confessed Jesus as Lord and is now standing with the Father. We do not mourn as those without hope; we mourn as those who know that one day we will be reunited. We grieve as those who are sad that our days on this earth with a great man are over, but rejoice that his days of pain and sickness are over. We mourn, but we mourn with hope.

For better or worse…

We’ve had a lot of worse and we know the days of worse are not over. And yet, just as we do not mourn without hope, we find ourselves clinging to the Father to get us through the worse in our brief marriage. Our faith is strong as we see—even in the midst of great sadness—His hand so perfectly working our circumstances for our good and His glory.

Where do we see His hand?

God saw fit to put Roy into a family with three kids who understand his pain. Next week marks the second anniversary of my kids’ dad’s sudden death. They have been on a journey of grief for two years. Roy stepped into our lives less than two months after his death—just when they needed a dad the most. And now, as Roy walks through the grief of losing his dad, he is surrounded by those who understand his pain. What a perfect fit, one that only God could orchestrate.

It has been heart-breakingly beautiful this week to watch as my kids step up to be with Roy. I watched my oldest lock him in such a strong yet tender embrace today at the funeral. I’ve listened as they’ve insisted on being with him on these tough days. And I watched as my daughter—I know reflecting on the scene from her own dad’s funeral—was overcome by her grief today. When we began dating two years ago, we never could have imagined how much my kids and Roy would need each other.

But God knew…

God has worked to prepare us for this day. Roy told me last summer shortly after his dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma that his dad was not going to survive. How did he know? God had spoken to him. God had very clearly told him that his time with his dad was limited.

You know what’s crazy? My kids’ dad wasn’t even sick. Yet, God spoke to one of my children a year in advance, telling him that his dad was not going to live long. I didn’t even know about God’s prophecy until well after he passed away. I had no idea the “secret” my child held onto for nearly a year.

Yes, we were blessed to have time to prepare, to make sure Roy’s dad knew he was loved. We had time to prepare our hearts for the loss, for the grief. As we watched him suffer, our hearts hurt for him and we longed to see him healed. Our love for him chose to let him go rather than see him continue to suffer in this earthly body. We chose to trust God, to let go on this earth as he was given his final and complete healing.

God has been telling us to simply be still. Back in January, we clearly heard God tell us He would fight for us…and He did. I’ve heard Roy tell me repeatedly that God keeps saying, “Be still and know I am God.” Yesterday, a dear prayer warrior friend of mine brought dinner and told me God had spoken the words “Be still” to her over Roy and me.

Do you know how hard it is to be still in the midst of the chaos, in the midst of the worse? Do you know how hard it is to shut out the noise clamoring all around and to listen for the still small voice? Do you know how hard it is to rest when your world seems to be spiraling out of control?

Our pastor recently told us God speaks in a still, small voice because God is near the broken-hearted. He is near. He is so close to us He only needs to whisper, to whisper in that still small voice that often seems as if it’s a shout.

Yes, somewhere in the chaos, God has been pulling us close, adjusting our focus, washing over us with His perfect peace. We know in the midst of the turmoil, we must rest in Him. There is no reason to fight, to strive. We must choose to rest. To be still. To be quiet. To listen to His still small voice. To hear Him rejoicing over us with singing. To allow Him to quiet us with His love. To feel Him near the broken-hearted. To feel Him near us.

For better or worse…

They are words that have new meaning, deeper meaning, as we walk…together…through the trials of this life. As difficult as it is, there’s no one I would rather walk with on this journey. Two years ago, he was the rock that pulled me through some dark, difficult days. He was there loving me, loving my kids, through our grief.

Today, I get to return the favor.