Joni and Friends Blog

Zealous About the Things of God

Some days I find myself dreaming about the way things used to be. In my young years I was zealous about the things of God; I wanted to be a missionary and I was willing to go anywhere in the world for Jesus. But in 2015 tragedy struck my life like a sharp and unexpected dagger. My twin brother, Connor, died in a tragic car accident on Christmas Eve. It’s still hard to even type those words. It was by far, the most devastating news I’d ever received and the news not only pierced my heart, it truly crushed my spirit.

I had experienced difficulty, and even loss, in prior years. But this time was different. It was way too personal. At the time of the accident my husband Daniel and I had been raising financial support to serve as international church planters in Eastern Europe. We were about 3-6 months out from deployment.

In my mind we were pursuing the life and career God had prepared for us. I had long before dedicated my heart to the work of the ministry and I was convinced this was the direction God was leading our family. So when everything started to unravel, it didn’t make sense at all. I was confused and utterly broken.

“God, where are you? Why has this happened to me?”

These questions plagued my mind.

As the days and weeks went by and I wasn’t feeling any better, I knew it was time to search the scriptures. I was desperate for answers, and for healing. Clearly it was time to trust God and this new direction, since nothing I tried to make sense of did.

God brought a new level of comfort to my life that I had never experienced. It was in the deepest of my suffering where He showed up the most. He was so very kind and loving toward me, and helped me to take one step at a time. I was able to be honest with him about how disappointed I was by my circumstances. I felt like He had let me down. Not only was my brother now gone, but so was my dream to become a missionary.

It’s been over three years since that fateful Christmas Eve, and I can truly say that I am thankful for where I am now. Although God did use my loss to redirect my path, He developed in me a greater understanding of the Gospel and why I need Him no matter what comes my way.

Although it’s easier for me to rejoice now, that wasn’t always the case. When I look back, I wish I could have made better decisions at times, or grumbled a little less, but I can’t change the past. All I can do is ask God for forgiveness, and move forward.

Pain is a great teacher if we allow it to be.

I still have difficult days of grief, but they’re more few and far between. The healing process takes time and intention. I went through a grief share class at my local church and it helped me tremendously! I was able to connect with other people who were also walking through loss. It was in this program where I learned what the Bible teaches about loss, how to ride the waves of grief as they came, and how to process rather than avoid my feelings. Pain is a great teacher if we allow it to be.

For anyone else who is also walking through grief, I would like to leave you with this question; if in one year you could have a deeper relationship with God, because of what He allowed you to go through, do you think you’d be grateful for what you learned along the way?

I bet you would. If you’re feeling stuck in grief here are some ideas of how you can move forward;

Are you reading God’s Word daily? I know it’s a simple step, but it will make all the difference in your life. Even if you just read a Psalm a day. And if it’s too difficult to keep a routine by yourself, can you commit to reading the Word with a friend, or accountability partner of some sort?

Do you have the support you need to help you walk through your grief? If you’re not part of a local church, I would urge you to join one. Or if you’re attending one, could you get more plugged in by joining a small group of some sort? Have you considered attending a Grief Share class or another support group?

Or maybe you’ve answered “yes” to all of these questions – have you considered going to counseling? Your circumstances may require more internal work with an outside professional. If so, I highly recommend Biblical counseling or seeing a Christian psychologist. Someone who is trained to address your needs properly. If you haven’t been open to this idea before, would you pray and consider it? God will make it possible for you to go to counseling if you really desire it.

Lastly, I want to remind you that healing IS possible, friend. This is why Jesus came; to bind up our broken wounds, and to set us free. He has given us His Holy Spirit to help make the journey a little bit easier. Let’s take advantage of that!

And as we continue to walk this path, let us fix our eyes on heaven, the home that awaits us. Where sin and pain will be no more!

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ He said to me: ’It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.’” Revelation 21:4-7

Written by Halley Mastrolonardo 
Listen to Crystal’s conversation with Halley about coping with grief and loss on the Joni and Friends Ministry Podcast.

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