Guy Delcambre has a rare gift with words. His wife died suddenly in 2010, leaving him as single parent to their three children. He manages to squeeze out grace from grief and drops it onto the page. It is a privilege to have him share his story today:
A long time ago in a day vibrant and full, the curtains drew mid scene, the day collapsed faster than it began and God, well, He somehow existed in an always familiarity, fuller than I’d known Him to be. I changed and so did my heart and eyes. God stood 10,000 times more phenomenal than I ever knew or imagined.
And now I see clearer.
But that day, O what a harrowing day! Even the recall still threatens and dwarfs me for a thinking, sinking moment.
Suffering poses a paradox in our human hearts that insulates us from God and every good day held in His hands. For every day is cut straight from God’s goodness. The problem we trip over in moments spoiled in suffering inescapable is our maligned mixing of words like ‘good’ and ‘bad’ centered and grounded only in ourselves. When we interpret life through our shifting experiences, we chase circling rabbits and are reduced to a frightened rider on a fatalistic roller coaster pushing us to and fro.
We must reconcile one thing finally:
We are not the center of the universe, neither do we have the capacity to save ourselves.
Self-reliance and the pursuit of independence keeps men drunk on empty, minuscule effort, despite our greatest attempt.
“The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’ and look on things as if man were the centre of them.”
The thinnest day I have ever lived, when faith dissipated into whispered words escaped to an emptier sky and comfort a commodity spent in a day fading behind me, found me in my wife’s death. Dark waters rushed over my head dimmed my eyes and thieved breath right out of my lungs.
Life was not supposed to be this way, not for me. For my three little daughters accustomed only to the loving arms of their mother to be severed by death’s heedless rush into our lives, the cruelty of life and circumstance could not be explained enough.
We broke. Like glass fractured by the brunt force of an object unbelonging regardlessly pushing its way through, we lived the days following in pieces.
She died unexpectedly just as life began to stretch out favorably and we, as a young family, were taking strong strides toward all that we dreamed about ahead. One day, all was beautiful and full; the next, all fell into a sea of tossing hurt, confusion and cold, lonely grief. With one phone call, the tone of the damnedest sound, my good life began to crack and crumble leaving a heap of rubble indistinguishable and unwanted; the exact opposite of my prayers. My wife had a history of epilepsy since early in childhood. For the majority of her life, her disease had little effect or hindrance on her life. Every so often she would endure a seizure splitting open our lives; faith would seep through fragile openings. Like a storm brooding just offshore threatening landfall, all going wrong seemingly lurched in the shadow of our happy existence.
And then landfall.
the letting go of love
and three little souls ejected from security
I remember clearly as she laid in a hospital bed floating between this life and the next tethered only by the machines and medicine that apparently kept her here, the only thought continually echoing in my mind, “How can this be? This isn’t fair when all we’ve ever tried to do was live our lives for You.”
In suffering we curse the sky, sink in bitter tears and beat at the air we breathe baffled by good escaping our frantic grasping. Our finger raises in defiance while it is our heart that betrays us, not the Maker of those broken hearts.
Suffering is not good by our counting. But God is.
As much as I loved my wife then and the life we began together and as empty and lost as life felt in the losing of it all, God existed thoroughly closer than I ever recognized. You see, in the darkest night and the violent loneliness of grief, God transcended my hurt and anger and feelings of betrayal just to find me. One lost sheep helplessly fading in a pit too deep to climb out of, the crook of his staff gracefully lifted me and set me back in a strong place.
I had God all wrong up to this point. In my mind, He was always my God. That is how I measured and valued Him. God is not my god and does not belong to me. The opposite holds accurate truth. I am His and belong to Him through His own choosing and doing.
I understood God to be personal and relatable, a friend; the god who chooses companionship with that which he created. But there is much debilitating limitation in God being my personal god. He is not. Or I should say, that is not all he is. God is not the god of my life alone. He is so much more than that. He’s the God of the universe that my life exists and is sustained in.
If He was merely the god of my life, He would be subject to accountability and my judgment. If he was only my friend, He would exist only for my comfort and entertainment. If He was only ‘He’, then I am much more on my own in this universe left to fate and chance and a cosmic swelling tide than I ever imagined. However, if He is indeed the God of the universe, if all is subject to His existence as the source and creator and author of life, then I am a piece of the fabric of his cosmic creation.
I am sustained as part of all that He is sustaining.
I am well taken care of no matter the terrors that threaten or the suffering experienced in any of my given days.
In the months and years since that day when all faded, we have suffered well, not by our own account by God’s persistent and patient grace filling each of our days and writing our way anew.
Maybe in your suffering, questions both asking and accusing have risen like smoke from the existing ashes and in the cavernous divide between circumstance and faith, you’ve fallen unfound. In times of suffering, exhale fully even with hints of celebratory thanks, for no effort or ability within you will be enough. God is, as He was and will be, more present than any circumstance invading.
Guy Delcambre is a writer, mountain bike and outdoors enthusiast and newfound explorer of living life as a single dad to three amazing little girls. Life is far more frail and unpredictable than often noticed. That is, until it breaks. In 2010, the lives of the Delcambre family took an unexpected turn. Death, the sudden loss of a wife, mother and best friend, confronted their young family causing him and his three daughters to face a life both foreign and new.
Guy is currently finishing the manuscript for a memoir tentatively titled, “Earth & Sky: a beautiful collision of grief and grace, of love and loss,” and writes regularly at guydelcambre.com
Over to you:
- “God is not my god and does not belong to me…I am His and belong to Him”. What do you think about this statement? To what extent does it help in understanding suffering?
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