I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of God in this life.
Wait for it.
Be strong, take heart.
And wait for the Lord.
This is my own paraphrase of Psalm 27. It was one of the few sections of Scripture I could read after Katie's death. I'm not sure how I got to this particular chapter, but it turned into a lifeline for me. I leaned into the words and rewrote them from my own perspective...Though a mighty grief surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. The words became mine as I cried out to God...Do not turn your back on me. Don't leave me now. Do not abandon me. Most of it was how I reminded myself of God's truth even when I didn't feel it within me...The Lord is my fortress...he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. Some of these verses were how I got out of bed each morning...My heart has heard you say, 'Come and talk with me.' So my heart responds,'Lord, I am coming.' And I finished with the words that became my mantra and my hope...I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of God in this life. Wait for it. Be strong, take heart. And wait for the Lord.
And after four years of waiting with confidence, I can honestly say I see the goodness of God in this life.
Now just to clarify a little. For me, seeing the goodness of God is not the same as "Everything happens for a reason." While there may be some truth there, that phrase pretty much sucks to hear when life is really hard. Then there's that other one, "We will understand when we get to heaven." I am quite certain that understanding the "why" of this world will be the least of my worries when I am standing in the presence of Jesus. But the goodness of God is something I desperately want to see on this side of eternity. And it is something I believe I will see because I know the character of God. He is compassionate and gracious, abounding in love and faithfulness, and willing to work and rework all the broken pieces of this world into something ultimately identifiable as good.
That is what I prayed for.
And what I waited for.
And what I see glimpses of.
Can I share some of my sightings of God's goodness with you?
In honor of Katie's 18th birthday this August, we collected donations for Ronald McDonald House of Southern WV. Boxes and bags of various items were left on our porch for several weeks. The Student Council of the local high school also collected items, such as snacks and toiletries and bottles of water. We received monetary donations and Kroger gift cards, to be used by the RMH volunteers to buy additional needed food or supplies. All in all, we took 3 van loads of donations and hundreds of dollars to the RMH where it was received with big smiles and grateful hearts.
The 5th Annual Strike Out Cancer Katie Cobb Tournament was held a few weeks ago in Putnam County. This baseball/softball tournament began as a fundraiser for our family while Katie was hospitalized, and it raised several thousand dollars for our expenses. The organizers decided to continue the tournament each year, keeping Katie's name attached, with proceeds going to cancer research, resources and families. This year's tournament included 73 teams spread across 11 fields in 6 different locations, raising over $24,000. I watched these boys and girls, ages 8-18, wearing purple shirts and bows and wristbands in honor of a girl they had never met, and I realized, "This is goodness." Although they may not have any other connection to childhood cancer (I hope they never do), they are becoming aware that brokenness exists in this world and they can do something about it.
Earlier this year, a group of high school English students read Katie's Story for a summer reading assignment. They spent time in class discussing and journaling about some of the topics in the book, eventually leading to many of them sharing the book with other peers and family. I had the privilege of video chatting with these students, answering their questions and discussing the book's content. Although they live several states away, Katie's life has impacted theirs. It was amazing to be part of the conversations as God reminded me Katie could have as much an impact after her death as before. It wasn't easy, but it was so good.
Then get this, y'all. Last weekend, while trudging through the grief of the 4 year anniversary of Katie leaving this world, I received a message from a woman who shared that two of her children were recently baptized. She explained how her family is attending church and choosing to follow Christ because of Katie. She said Katie's life and her light pointed them to Jesus. Say what?!?
Now that, my friend, is goodness. Beautiful, gracious, joyful, goodness. Yea, that's exactly what that is. It doesn't bring my Katie back. And my humanness won't let me say her death was worth it. Yet, there among the ashes, I see beauty. Amid the mourning, there is dancing. The despair gets shrouded slightly with praise. It's what he does. Do you hear me? It's what he does! He takes broken pieces from this broken planet and reworks them into something good. Not something perfect, mind you. Something that reflects him. Something good.
But I have to ask for it.
I may have to wait for it.
I definitely have to look for it.
Yet I am confident it will be there.
The goodness of God in this life.
Be strong, take heart. And wait for the Lord.