by Jean Williams
Joshua, Jean and Joshua’s Dad
Thirteen years ago, as the first Thanksgiving and Joshua’s birthday drew closer after his suicide, I had to dig deep in my heart to embrace the blessings.
Yes, so much had been right and good about our family, but then Joshua’s death overshadowed it. If I would have stayed in this state of seeing more dark than light, I would have become spiritually blind. As sightless as the living creatures which live in a cave and have never see the sun.
I fought for being thankful, but I told the Lord, “Though, I can’t be thankful for Joshua’s death.” God gave me grace. Once I sorted through some of my feelings, I concentrated and practiced being grateful for what truly counts. The most important blessing? Jesus died and rose again for the sins of the world. My sins.
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice and my new birth into Christ decades before, I battled against the clichés Satan whispered in my ear. Why would God allow this horrific death to a Christian and his family? If God truly loved you, He would have intervened. Lies! All lies from the Deceiver.
Through my loss, I’ve been so weak and feeble. Yes, I keep myself immersed, and yes, I pray without ceasing throughout the day. How could I not. For I shudder to consider how ruined my soul would be today if not for God’s love. His strength He gives me.
So what if I weep easier and crowds unnerve me. I don’t mind it when other people’s pain causes me to feel their pain more intensely. Spiritually, I’ve grown through the loss of my child. After the early grieving years, I’m able to laugh out loud, tease a loved one, and cause others to chuckle.
However, I would be greatly blessed if I had more patience. Years ago, I over heard two people talking about patience, and it went something like this:
I don’t pray for patience anymore.”
“Because, when I pray for patience, I have all kinds of trials.”
“Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll no longer pray that prayer.”
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4 ESV
I have prayed for patience and every single time I have trials. And when trials come, I have forgotten my request until later. Oh! God heard me. What confirmation. This is what a relationship with God is about. He molds me and shapes me in order to prepare His child to enter into His Heaven.
Part of patience is waiting on God. This waiting has increased my strength and endurance in my spiritual race. When obstacles arrive, I use these as God’s teachable moments and step on the other side to rest in Jesus. But not before I kick and flail about as a spoiled child.
After the trial, I prepare myself with continued prayer and scripture reading for the next one. I am not a victim. I refuse to focus on failure. Instead, I’ll bring my heart around to Christ my Savior.
Yet, after my son’s suicide, I could not fathom the difficult challenges ahead. With Joshua’s memorial behind us, and my husband back at work, I looked through my address book. I had to call long-time friends who lived far away and tell them of our loss.
Two of my friends knew Joshua when he was a little boy, and their sons and my son played together. The first friend I called is a Christian, whom I kept in contact with through cards and letters. When I told her about Joshua’s death, she wept. When she recovered from her shock, she comforted me with Scripture.
I call do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:13 KJV
This dear woman’s encouragement became one of many stepping stones to build me up when I had serious doubts I was ever a decent mother. After this day, we stayed in better contact as we once had when our boys were still in diapers.
Another phone call I made was to a friend I hadn’t spoken to for seventeen years, though we stayed in contact through Christmas cards. Her son and Joshua went to elementary school together. This mother and I used to watch our two boys with their heads bent together, deep in conversation.
After my greeting through the long distance lines, I told her Joshua shot himself. She said, “I’ll get my husband.”
When he came on the phone, he said, “Jean, what happened?”
Her husband was able to listen and give me heart-felt condolences, and my friend was not. I decided she couldn’t bear to hear anymore.
Nine years later, and thirty years since we’d seen each other, this second friend and I were visiting in my home. As we settled on the sofa in the living room, the lines on her face softened. Her voice became hushed, “Jean, do you know why Joshua chose to do what he did?”
My friend was finally ready to hear Joshua’s story, my story, and I shared it with her as she asked questions after question. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in her family on the following day.
As her oldest son was hiking in the woods, he became suddenly ill. He collapsed and died on the forest floor. When she called to tell me, I was gripped with horror. After I calmed somewhat, I realized I’d shared the Gospel of Jesus with her less than twenty-four hours before, and I prayed it would help her in the long months ahead.
When we’re a child of God, even one as broken as myself, He can use us in His perfect timing to draw another soul to Him.
My dear Lord, why You love me is amazing. Why You suffered on the cross to save us touched me deeply. Thank You, holy One. In Jesus’ name, I’m thankful. Amen
A Memory of Joshua from a High School Friend
I’ll never forget the first time I met Josh. First period, first day of junior high. He was the first person I met as he sat right in front of me. He had long hair, and wore a UNLV team jacket. We talked, and he would tell me about the cool things his older brother would do. We became good buddies.
A bunch of us used to work out at the club fitness center. We were always amazed how many times Josh could do squats with weights. He was a powerhouse which inspired us to work harder at it.
Bio: Jean Ann Williams is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She writes regularly for Putting on the New blog and Book Fun Magazine on the topic of child suicide loss. Her book “God’s Mercies after Suicide: Blessings Woven through a Mother’s Heart” started out as a blogged book on her Love Truth site. Jean Ann and her husband of forty-seven years have thirteen grandchildren from their two remaining children. They reside on one acre in Southern Oregon where they raise a garden, fruit orchard, goats, and chickens. Jean Ann’s favorite hobbies are practicing archery, hiking through the woods, and big game hunting with her bow.