Shrieking cries came from outside, “my house is on fire, my house is on fire.” I ran downstairs, out my door and looked up. Fire engulfed the roof of my townhouse and the four others that were attached.
Not thirty minutes before, I put Thea down in her big two-year-old bed, gave her a hug and kiss and said goodnight. Then I picked up Aven from the baby swing, put him in his sleeper and rocked him gently back and forth, willing him to fall asleep.
Staring out the window, I saw a glint of light that reflected from the moon into the shape of a cross. Bewildered, I adjusted my gaze and looked again. There it was, a glowing cross that was so prominent I couldn’t help but think it was weird. I had never seen anything like it before.
Aven finally closed his eyes and I transferred him from my arms to his crib as if he were a ticking time bomb. Moms, you know what I mean. Any sudden moves, and I knew I was going to have to do another round of rocking before he would go to bed.
SUCCESS! Both kids were in bed, I was home free. Now I could concentrate on putting together polar express train tickets for the church Christmas party. As I was gathering the craft supplies, I smelt something burning. It wasn’t anything unusual as our townhouse was surrounded by large pieces of property that often have bush fires to burn their excess leaves, tree twigs and other debris.
But as time passed, the smell kept getting stronger to the point that I opened our front window.
That’s when I heard the shrieking. After realizing our house was on fire, I sprinted upstairs, opened Thea’s bedroom door, and yelled at her to wake-up. Outside her window I could see the flames burning. I didn’t have much time, and I frantically determined that I wasn’t going to be able to get both kids out at the same time. So I made the split decision to leave Thea and grab Aven. I flew down both flights of stairs and threw him in the car.
A neighbour who I didn’t know asked me if there was anyone else left in the house. I frantically cried, “Yes, my daughter Thea is in her room. Please get her.” Desperate and scared, I couldn’t control my shaking body. How could I have left Thea all by herself? But I didn’t have the arm strength to grab them both at the same time.
Not soon after, my neighbour rushed down the stairs carrying Thea and placed her in my arms. Breathing a little easier I profusely thanked him and God. Then I threw Thea in the car and drove to the safest place I know, my parents’ house, which was only two streets down.
I could hear sirens behind me and knew it would only be seconds until the fire trucks got to our townhouse. I called Mark and raced through what had happened and told him to come home.
Mark got home way too fast (thank goodness he didn’t get pulled over). Once the kids were safe and sleeping at my parents, we went back to our townhouse and watched as four fire trucks and many firemen worked to put the fire out.
It wasn’t until the next day that we could assess the damage. Our townhouse didn’t burn to the ground, but it might as well have. The thick smoke combined with the gallons of water used to put out the fire left our townhouse in ruins. As I walked into Theas room, I saw that her wall was burnt down. That was the only place in our townhouse that the fire had reached. Going back and seeing that was really hard.
Many “what ifs” kept circling inside my head. What if my neighbor hadn’t noticed the roof was on fire and started to yell? What if that man wasn’t there to rescue Thea from her room? Would she still be with us?
And then the “whys” started. Why did this happen? Why does bad stuff always happen to us? We have two little kids, our townhouse was brand new and now it is completely ruined including everything in it.
Ever been there? Questioning why so many things in your life go wrong? And why does it always seem to be you experiencing them?
What I’ve realized is that bad things happen to people all the time. We are all in the same boat. Bad things happen to good people, bad people, Christians, Atheists, young and old.
So why does God let bad things happen? Why be a Christian if God isn’t going to prevent you from experiencing bad things? Why doesn’t he step in and save us?
Many smart people who have studied the bible for years have tired to answer these tough questions. And I am not one of them, so I can’t give you some deep theological answer. But I can tell you what I’ve experienced.
Sometimes God let’s bad things happen to us build our faith. He wants us to rely on him.
My faith before I went through these tough times was pretty weak. I believed in God but I didn’t talk with him much, I never read the bible and I only prayed when I was having a really hard time. But through these trials my faith has strengthened and I’ve started to build a relationship with him. I now talk to him more and I lean on him everyday.
If I was really honest I don’t think I would have found such a deep and unwavering faith had I not gone through those hard times. I mean, if my life was amazing and nothing ever went wrong, why would I need God? I could just rely on myself.
A few days after the fire I remembered what I saw that night, the cross glowing from the moon. That’s when I realized that it was a sign from God. A sign to show me that he was watching over and protecting my family.
How do I know it was a sign from God? Because after a year of rebuilding our townhouse we eventually moved back in and I spent many nights upstairs in Aven’s bedroom quirking my head in all kinds of crazy angles to try and see the cross again but I never did. I also spent time praying about it and through prayer I felt him reassure me that it was his sign.
God can take those hard times and not only use it to build your faith but he can create some really good things out of it.
For us, we ended up living with my parents for the year our townhouse was rebuilt, which allowed us to save up a lot of money. I also got the support and help of my parents which I needed as I was a mom with a newborn and an 18 month old. It turned out to be a huge blessing.
In the bible, God turned a bad situation into something good through the story of Joseph. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and suffered deeply. But God did not let the sin of his brothers win. Instead, he turned Joseph into a leader. Later on in the story Joseph told his brothers, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:15-21)
Here is the difference between having God on your side or not. When you go through bad times, Satin will use it to pull you down even further. He will pull you down this deep deep pit and not care. In fact, that’s exactly what he wants. He will burry you in the ground before you even realize you’re there.
If you have God on your side, he will jump in the pit with you. He loves you and will do whatever he can to pull you out. He is the only one who can do that.
So I guess my point is at the end of the day, you will go through hard times and it’s not in your control. But what is in your control is who you choose to go through them with.
Me personally, I choose God. Who do you choose?