The Likeness of God

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Last week after attending my second visit to the GreifShare meeting, we talked about the goodness of God. We spoke about Romans 8:28. I said I knew that scripture, I quoted it many times, and I had experienced the goodness of God when I left my abusive husband. However, I can’t see the good in the loss of my only son. Not one person corrected me, nor did they try to sugar-coat my pain; they sat with me as tears rolled down my eyes. It has been six months since my son’s passing; it still feels like yesterday. 

The likeness of God shone more brightly in my darkest hours through the safe people He sent as guides. 

After commenting on God’s goodness during the group meeting, I instantly remembered the day before my first surgery; I was terrified. Although I was married, I had to face this alone, as I have done many times before. I had experienced the pain of indifference; however, I did not have a psychological name until I read Lesley Vernick’s description of it in her book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. Little did I know about psychological abuse and the effects of its cruelty until the evening before. Instead of being concerned about me and comforting me, my ex-husband raged at me for not having him on my life insurance policy. I was overwhelmed with anxiety, and my heart raced uncontrollably; I thought I had a heart attack. I cried out to God, and He calmed my soul. Before falling asleep, I read Psalm 17, and I anchored myself on these words, “When I awake, I will be satisfied when seeing Your likeness.” Then the next day, I met a man of God. 

I was in pre-op when a nurse came and asked if I had a living will. I said I did not and asked her if it was too late to make one; I didn’t want my grown children to decide on my behalf if something went wrong. She said I would have to have it notarized before my surgery. That seemed to add to my stress until she said there was someone on staff who was a notary; he could help me. Shortly after, a man dressed in a white coat walked in and asked if I needed a living will and notary? I said I was, and we proceeded to go down the list. First, he asked if I was married and had children for the sake of next of kin.

I said yes, but I would rather have my son-in-law decide to pull the plug if needed. He was taken aback by my statement and asked why. I explained that this decision would be too hard for my grown children to make. I did not want my then-husband to make any decisions on my behalf. I did not tell him what had transpired the night before. He set the paper aside and asked if I knew how to breathe when I felt anxious? I said no. He showed me how to take a deep breath for four seconds and release counting to four. We did this a few times and proceeded back to the paperwork. When we got to the part where it said if I died, should they resuscitate me, I said no. He was a little surprised and asked me why? Again, I did not tell him that I was worn out and didn’t have any fight left in me; I wanted to die already. My response was, “Let me go into the loving arms of my Jesus. His face lit up at the mention of the name of Jesus, and we began sharing our stories of God’s faithfulness. He shared a story about being in a hurry and how a Pastor told him the best way to defeat hurry was to ruthlessly kick it out; I liked how that sounded.

The Prayers of a Righteous Man Availeth Much

After we completed the living will and notarized it, he asked if I wanted him to pray about my surgery. I was not reluctant to accept prayer this time, as I was before. However, because of Spiritual Abuse, I was not as willing to let anyone pray for me or my marriage. Furthermore, I wondered what god or spirit they prayed to on my behalf and my children. But for some strange reason, and for the first time in a long time, I felt safe with this man. We took hands, and while he prayed, I remembered the word of the Lord the night before. “In the morning, I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.” I opened my eyes and gazed at this man’s face. I saw the likeness of Jesus in him. He was compassionate, kind, merciful, authentic, and courageously passionate about Jesus Christ. After he prayed, he thanked the Lord for the divine appointment. I don’t know how I impacted him if I did at all, but I knew I saw God in him and experienced the likeness of God through him that day. He even wrote me a prescription on a yellow notepad; “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” I still have it in my Bible as a bookmark. 

That evening, I texted all three of my grown children, informing them of the time of my surgery and other details. My son and daughters worked full time and attended college; I worked full time and attended college, and I understood if they could not be there for me. I knew this was an impossible request, but I told them the only faces I wanted to see when I woke up were their faces. My son called me immediately; he was very apologetic and told me he had tests that day; he couldn’t miss school. My daughters were testing as well. So I accepted that my kids would not be there waiting for me. 

My surgery was scheduled at noon the next day, and everything seemed to go smoothly. I was surprised my Pastor showed up and prayed for me; I hadn’t been to church faithfully. I didn’t think I deserved such grace. Also, I was not used to this kind of attention; but God kept sending people in His likeness to comfort me. However, my heart still ached for my children to be there when I awake, and only God would know this kind of ache in my soul. My surgery was delayed three hours. Finally, when I was taken back, the surgery was four hours long, and I spent about an hour recovering. After all, was done and in my room, I heard my son calling me to wake up. When I opened my eyes, I saw all three of my children standing next to my bed and shadows of other relatives surrounding me with their love and concern for my health and well-being. 

After my son died, I couldn’t see anything good from his death. However, I saw the likeness of God through the many people He sent to comfort me, and He continues to do so. I still struggle with questions, faith, and doubt about a brighter future. I told my daughter about this godly man I met in the hospital one day. I said that was the kind of man I wanted to marry. She laughed and said he was probably married. I told her the type of man I wanted to marry would be the likeness of God. I also imagine when I closed my eyes for the last time here on earth, I would hear my son calling me again.

If I told you all the times I saw the likeness of God move on my behalf, I would have to write a book because this story is just a drop in the ocean of God’s eternal love and comfort during affliction, pain, and sorrows. We want God to rescue us and intervene; we want a drive-through God to give us a pain-free life. That is unrealistic; the reality is that just as we are born, we will die. We suffer in ways God did not ordain; some sufferings are by our choices, and others cause others. Jesus said, we will suffer in this world, but take heart; I have overcome the world. 

Through pain from the loss of my son, I have seen the likeness of God through teachers, strangers, my coworkers at the school I work at, friends from my childhood, family, clients, etc. I still can’t see through the pain of my tears, and I am ok with that because I am still grieving, and I will give myself the time I need.