“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” ~John 12:24
In a matter of minutes, everything that I thought was true, wasn’t; and everything I imagined I possessed was gone. I had suffered theft, violence and death all within the space of a few words. Surely the whole earth must have been cataclysmically shaken as I sat there in that office. It wasn’t possible that time could keep ticking and the earth could keep spinning: I had just died. I could hardly breathe from the suffocating weight that pressed on my chest; if I could have willed my heart to stop beating I would have. My eyes traced and retraced the cross shapes in the burgundy and green rug on the floor. Dry-eyed and numb, I stood and stumbled out into the open air.
What followed was a blur of days and weeks of forcing myself to eat, sleep, and dress. I passed the news along to a few people on a need-to-know basis. I cannot even remember those conversations; they are lost in the fog of grief. It took all of the strength I could muster to present to my children a facade of calm and assurance. My entire existence, for all intents and purposes, had been consumed by an instantaneous blaze of adversity, leaving me nothing but a handful of ashes. For all I knew, life as I had known it might never return.
“His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22b-23) In the sleepless early mornings I would get up quietly while the kids slept and watch the sun rise over the dark mountains. I had no words for prayer, yet every breath was a prayer. When I woke in the middle of the night and in the morning, a song of comfort would be on my heart. Every day as I opened my Bible, living, breathing Truth jumped off of the page at me. God had come, you see, to make an exchange with me: He had taken everything from me, to give me in place of it all, Himself.