When Hope Rises From the Ashes

“This is what it means to be loved by someone who will never, ever let go. This is what it means to have a good, good Father.”

The only thing worse than the fire was the lingering whisper that this was the punish-ment I deserved. The accusation came when I was at my lowest, but I had learned not to argue with the Accuser, only to confess and cling to the forgiveness of Christ, which was the only defense I had.

I was learning to live in the open. I had to refuse to hide or to harden my heart just to keep my secrets safe. The fire stripped me of the need to protect myself—leaving eve-rything raw and exposed. The only thing left standing in my life was love. I had to trust that it was enough. The angel God sent to remind me of that was Sister.

She would get me through the coming weeks and months. She would hold me and tell me it was going to be okay. She cried as much as I did, but she knew what needed to be done next. She would comfort my children through their night terrors and sit in silence with us when nothing else could be said. She would walk with us every step of the way.

I held on to her like a lifeline. Those months following the fire, I would fight for my life, struggling through anxiety and depression, trying to stay above what felt like quicksand, and she was just as steady as a rock. Sister braced me against her own body and walked through hell with me until one day, without much fanfare, we finally walked out into the light.

Life would never be the same, but I began to see with new eyes. My children were safe; I still had everything that mattered. I prayed that this gift of seeing the world differently would stay. That I would trust that Christmas had come, that Love incarnate, come in the flesh for me, was the gift that could never be taken away.

We walked into our church exactly eight days after the fire, the aisles flickering with a thousand tiny flames, candles everywhere lighting the way to God’s Son and His humble birth. I remember the Scripture that was read that night, its comfort steeling me against despair.

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For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the re-vealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit inter-cedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:18-28, ESV, emphasis added)

That final verse. I couldn’t believe it was being read. Years earlier I had adopted that same verse as my own, the year I began giving my testimony at church. It was a verse I would take in like air.

The first miracle was the day food started to taste good again. I made my infamous beef stew recipe in my brand-new soup pot, and something about its familiar taste gave me hope.

And then Steve laughed for the first time. And then Elea finally slept through the night. Life slowly began to feel bearable. Hope sparked in the corner of my heart and slowly inched back into my life. We lived for Sunday morning Communion, and we held on to our faith like it was all we had—because it was.

It would be a long nine months of rebuilding. On October 7, Todd’s birthday, we moved into our new house, rebuilt on the same spot. Steve and I stood together on the back deck beneath the orange maple tree, noticing how charred and bare some of its outer branches were, the fire having left its mark on everything in sight. We prayed that God would use this house to bless and nourish those He would bring our way. Maybe we’d even pursue adoption, as we’d talked about so many times before.

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The house fire was part of God’s plan to show me how much He loved me, if by no other means than by how desperately I loved my own kids.

How much more fiercely and purely He fights for my rescue; how bravely He runs to find His sheep; how completely His love and His death on the cross have transformed my suffering into hope.

This is a God who loves me with a love that I can’t even fathom.

This is a God who humbled Himself and became a man, suffering all in order that I might live.

This is Christmas. This is what it means to be tethered and cherished and watched over and cared for.

This is what it means to be loved by Someone who will never, ever let go.

This is what it means to have a good, good Father.

Taken from All the Pretty Things copyright © 2016 by Edie Wadsworth. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Edie Wadsworth is a national speaker, writer, and faith blogger at life{in}grace. She has been featured in various media including Better Homes and Gar-dens. Edie is a physician and natural health enthusiast who encourages and inspires women to live with more passion and purpose so that they can impact families and communities with their unique gifts.