April 27, 1990, is a day forever engraved in my mind. When the sun came up that morning, I never imagined the sorrow that would soon overcome the hearts of twenty-four-year-old me and my children.
The day started like our normal routine. My husband, Jeff, was a construction worker who enjoyed his job. The drive for him each day was close to an hour. Later that morning, the kids and I began to prepare for the day. My home church was having a revival that week, and I was looking forward to visiting people to invite them to church. However, as the day progressed, I developed a headache. Unable to continue, I drove to my sister’s home to visit and rest.
Shortly after arriving at her home, the phone rang with my mother on the other end. “Keep her there,” the message conveyed. “We are on our way.” Minutes later, my mother arrived and walked swiftly through the door to my sister’s home. As she quickly helped gather my things, she explained my husband had been in an accident. They gave me little information as I climbed into her car and headed to the hospital. As we proceeded down the drive, my mind was engulfed with questions. I anxiously wondered if Jeff was OK and even what he might be going through.
When I arrived, the doctor instructed me to sit down. Unable to imagine what I was about to hear, I sat quietly and waited. As the physician began to speak, I honestly do not remember every word he uttered, but I do recall the news he delivered. My husband had been electrocuted and killed instantly on his job site. With those words, I immediately fell to pieces.
This unimaginable tragedy was hard for my young family and me to process, and the journey forward was hard to fathom. Perhaps this is why I love the book of Ruth so much as I can clearly relate to her journey of loss and renewal.
When she began a new life for herself as a new bride, Ruth became the daughter-in-law of Naomi. But years later, she, too, faced the loss of her husband, transitioning her from the role of a wife to a widow. Her journey that once appeared secure was disrupted by tragedy.
After suffering the losses of her husband and two sons, Naomi decided to return to her homeland. Naomi attempted to depart from her two daughters-in-law, but Ruth refused to accept Naomi’s goodbye. Ruth, a broken yet strong young woman, was determined to embrace a new future by following her mother-in-law back to her land. Ruth 1:16-17 tells us the beginning of their story together after their tragic losses:
But Ruth said, “Do not plead with me to leave you or to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you sleep, I will sleep. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do so to me, and worse, if anything but death separates me from you” (NASB).
As Ruth’s journey was redirected, her life was also repositioned. Ruth faced an unknown future as a widow living in a foreign land. She left everything behind to start anew. Yet God never once left her side. Through it all, He ordained her steps to a field where she would be protected, provided for, and positioned for blessings, including a lineage through which our Savior came. (See Ruth 4:16-22.)
If you currently find yourself being redirected and repositioned, remember the following truths: God will ordain your steps just as He did Ruth’s—protecting, providing for, and positioning you and yours for blessings you never could have fathomed. God will keep you in His care—shielding you, defending you, and taking care of all that concerns you—from now throughout eternity. You will never walk this journey alone.
When I was finally allowed to enter my husband’s hospital room after receiving the news of his death, my mother led me down the hallway. When I arrived at the entrance of where he was, fear suddenly overtook me. In the process of moving toward him, I began to tremble exceedingly. I could not believe what had transpired over a few hours. I collapsed on his body, weeping profusely. I did not want to let him go. Jeff and I were only a few days away from celebrating our fourth anniversary. Yet instead of preparing for such a joyous time, I was planning his funeral. At this moment, I desperately needed the truth of Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will also help you, I will also uphold you with My righteous right hand” (NASB).
After I said goodbye to my husband, I veered into a restroom down the hallway and gazed intently into the mirror over the sink. As I pondered all that had transpired, I asked the following question: Lord, what am I going to do? I was a stay-at-home mom with no college education. To say the least, the next steps would be uncertain. But when our next steps are uncertain, we must trust in the Lord to lead us the way. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (ESV).
God will work all things together for your good and His glory. The chapter you find yourself in today may be difficult, but the page will one day turn into a new chapter with a new beginning and a heart healed by the Balm of Gilead. God is not finished writing your story! When calamity came to my family, God’s faithfulness remained steadfast and uncompromised. He ordained a new journey for us, and through His grace, He brought my children and me to the other side of tragedy.
Dr. O’Shea Lowery is the mother of two and the nana of six. She is a passionate speaker and writer, imparting God’s truth and lessons to groups and through women’s Bible studies, poems, and blogs. Lowery is currently teaching a single moms’ Sunday school class, Strong & Courageous. She is a member of FBC Dallas, in Dallas, Texas. Her heart beats strong for single moms since she herself has been one for more than thirty years. She serves as the spiritual counselor for Involved for Life, and as a blog writer for First Dallas Women’s Yada Yada blog. Soon, she will become a regular podcaster for LEAD Magazine, a Christian leadership magazine reaching over a million believers. She received her bachelor’s degree in Christian ministry from Blue Mountain College, her master’s degree in biblical counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and her doctorate in family ministries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.