You’d think I’d have it settled by now.

But the questions surfaced again after I watched a movie about a boy who fell through some ice.

Recently, I rented the movie, “Breakthrough.”

The film, based on a true story, is about a teenager from Missouri who falls through the ice on a lake in January 2015. The teen is under water for 15 minutes before rescuers can start resuscitation on him.

In the movie, we see the depth of a mother’s love and how it can move the heart of God.

Chrissy Metz gives a spot-on portrayal of Joyce Smith, a desperate mother who cries out to the Holy Spirit to not let her son die.

Metz shows how fierce a mother can be when fighting for her child’s life. The mom then experiences her own breakthrough when realizing she can’t control everything that happens.

The film has many poignant moments.

One occurs when the question arises: Why does God save some from death, while others die?

It’s something many of us who’ve lost precious ones have asked — and something that can be especially painful at Christmas time.

Almost seven years have passed since my husband, Chuck, died in 2013.

And, personally, I can say that every year has gotten just a little easier than the one before.

There’s still the sense of loss that comes with reminders of what I no longer have, but I believe God has done so much to help me heal.

Yet — every once in a while — nagging questions still tug at my heart:

“What if I’d prayed harder?

“Or fasted longer?”

“What if I’d waited a little longer and given God more time to work — even though medical professionals and family members were telling me it was time to let him go?”

Just before Chuck died, I remember walking down a hospital hallway and having a conversation with God.

“If you’re going to do a miracle, now would be a good time,” I told God like I was some character on a TV drama.

Did God do a miracle?

Not in the way I thought.

I wanted a totally healed and restored husband.

And he was.

Just not on this side of the sky.

I believe Chuck is healed and happy in heaven.

It’s the rest of us — who are still slugging it out here on earth — who’ve had a rocky time.

Yet if I’ve learned anything, it’s that God is faithful.

As I continually seek God, he’s guided me and put people to walk alongside me on this journey of grief.

He’s provided me with all kinds of help, sometimes from unexpected places.

And he’s given me hope for the future — even amid the questions.

So how do we handle the question: “What if I’d done things differently?”

This week, I read a verse from the Old Testament book of Job.

“A person’s days are determined,” Job tells God. “You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.”

To me, that says God has decided how much time each of us will have on this earth.

In Psalm 139, David tells how God created him and knit him together in his mother’s womb.

Then in verse 16, David writes: “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

This also indicates to me that God knows how many days we’ll have.

So maybe — as hard as I’ve tried to keep loved ones alive — I must admit it really wasn’t in my power to do that.

And neither was it my fault when they slipped from this life into the next.

Where does that leave me?

Maybe in a place where I’ve found great comfort — the fact that, despite everything, I really believe God has my best interest at heart.

In the Bible, God says, “I have loved you with an ever-lasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

And during ancient times, Jesus provided an analogy to show how our Lord cares and watches over us.

Jesus points out that five sparrows are sold for two pennies.

“Yet not one of them is forgotten by God,” Jesus says, empathizing how important we are to him. “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6).

If God knows how many hairs we have on our heads (and some of us have a lot of hair) wouldn’t he care what happens to us?

And if he loved us so much that he sent his only son to die for us wouldn’t he care if we hurt and want to help us heal?

I’ve heard people say we need to move on after our loved ones die.

But I don’t think we move on.

I think we move ahead.

We move ahead with everything they’ve given us — all the love, lessons and memories — and we share that with others.

Is it always easy?


But what’s the alternative?

Are we doing ourselves a favor by becoming guilt-ridden, bitter people?

A grief journey can take a long time, but every day I ask God to help to get me through whatever I’ll face.

And each day, I’ve seen his faithfulness as I continue to lean on him.

Granted, there are times when I tell someone I wish they could have met my late husband or parents.

Then, I end up saying, “You would have really liked them. And they would have just loved you! Someday, you’ll get to meet them in the next life (heaven).”

Perhaps for me — that is my breakthrough.

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She writes a weekly spiritual column.


Load comments