Overwhelmed

We have been overwhelmed with grief, more than our hearts have ever known.  Tears just come in wave upon wave.  Everything we look at reminds us of Susana.  Her clothes are still all over the house.  Her little shoes are still in my closet and I see them every morning when I get dressed.  Maria fumbles her words often when talking about plans and says things like, “I’ll stay back with the girls” (plural) or “When Isabela and Susana go there…”  You see…she’s still in our every thought, yet their is the most painstaking reality that hits us all throughout the day that she’s gone, and an even greater painstaking reality that she’s not coming back.  Just typing that sentence just brought me to tears.  And that reality will hit us all the more as the days progress.

I vacillate between two different emotions throughout my day.  On one hand, I greatly rejoice knowing that my little girl is in the presence of Jesus.  She is whole.  Her faith is now her sight.  She has reached the prize.  She is where we absolutely long to be.  And I am so happy as I think about the things that she is experiencing.  And then just minutes later, I find myself uncontrollably weeping because I miss my little girl more than anything.  There is just a hole in my heart that will remain forever.  I know that the Lord will sustain us through this.  I know He will heal us after He has crushed us.  I know that weeping will endure for the night and then joy will come in the morning.  I know these things with more certainty than ever.  But right now, we just hurt.  This is our night season.  And I’m sure it will take a long time.

I shared yesterday at her homecoming celebration from 2 passages of scripture.  One was in 1 Corinthians where Paul states that our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  This is a promise for the believer who has put his hope in Christ alone.  This is a promise for me.  God is using our loss and great suffering to achieve for us an eternal glory that will far outweigh our “light and momentary” pain.  And that is why we did not want people to wear black.  In Christ, our world is not black.  We have hope.  We have light even amidst our blackest night.  But I did hand out a tiny swatch of black cloth to the hundreds of people who were there.  And I had them look at the cloth sitting in the palm of their hand, and I told them that this is indeed a reminder that, yes, there is grief and we will not deny or ignore that, but, in the perspective of eternal glory that awaits those who trust in Him, our grief is little.  There is much greater joy than suffering in the grand scheme of eternity.  And so, I did not want to look out and see a sea of black.  For our world is not one that is totally black.  We grieve.  But even in our grief there is great hope.  And the other scripture that I shared was from 1 Thessalonians where Paul talks about us grieving different than the world does because we grieve with hope.

And that’s why I can vacillate between the two.  I am still here in this natural body.  And so my heart aches beyond words.  Friends, I miss my little girl so much.  The thought of going through the rest of my years here on this earth without her absolutely crushes me.  But, because of the hope that I have in Jesus, by His grace, I am able to look forward with complete certainty of the eternity that I will spend with her and Jesus!  I can’t wait for that day to come!

Her homecoming celebration was beautiful.  It was recorded on video so I will soon put it up for all to see.  From what I heard, a few people prayed to receive Christ at the end.  O how I give glory to God upon hearing that!  We just want to bring Him glory with our lives…and even with our deaths.  A scripture that has been brought to my attention often through many comments and emails is in Psalm 116, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”  O how I wish I could see it as so, but right now it just hurts. And so I can only trust God according to His word that Susana’s death was something precious to Him.

In addition to being overwhelmed with grief, we have also been overwhelmed with so much love from our family and friends.  Our church, Biltmore Baptist, has been absolutely amazing in reaching out to us in every way imaginable.  We have been given so much food that we could feed a small village.  We have been so loved and embraced.  We have been lifted up in prayer by thousands of people all over the world.  We have been supported so much from other churches and friends as well.  It was a blessing to have our family with us for several days as well.  So, amidst such overwhelming grief, we have been bombarded with such overwhelming love.  Truly the body of Christ has helped carry some of our burden, and for that we are so grateful.  But we also know that there is much of this burden that God will call us to bear alone and we must trust that His grace will enable us to carry it well for His glory.

41 thoughts on “Overwhelmed

  1. Dear Whittaker family,

    I’ve already said so on Facebook, but I will say again how I loathe the fallen nature of our world. Too painful are the reminders we face in death that this is not how God intended it to be. I’m so thankful He is near to you and my family and I are praying He will continue to carry you through this. As a mother of a very young daughter myself, my heart breaks for all of you.

    Thank you Jesus that in You, we find victory. Thank You Jesus that in You, we have hope above all hope. Glory to your name.

    In Christ,
    Brandi Dixon (a sister in Christ)

  2. The service was beautiful! BEAUTIFUL! Oh how we all grieve, my heart is grieving with yours, BUT with HOPE. Now faith is the assurance of things HOPED for, the conviction of things not seen. The things that Susana now sees. She is with the Lord when he intercedes for us (Rom 8). I cry with you, I don’t know you, but I am blessed through your story. Thank you for sharing it with us. Susana’s life here was short, but powerful. You are blessed to be her parents, thank you Isabella for sharing her with us. We love you!

  3. I am so sorry Cody and Maria………..my heart breaks for you. Lifting my hands up in fervent prayer to the Comforter, the One Who knows and formed our inner most being. Praying, Trusting, Resting……..Oh Dear Lord…bring mighty comfort and peace to this precious family. May they feel Your presence and be able to rest in You by Your mercy and grace. In Jesus Name, Amen.

    Psalm 34:15-18
    15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
    and his ears toward their cry.
    16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
    to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
    17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
    and delivers them out of all their troubles.
    18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

    Psalm 38:8-10
    I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
    O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.
    My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.

    Isaiah 41:10 “Fear not; for I am with you. Be not dismayed; for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yea, I will help you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness.”

    Isaiah 40:3 “But 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 be faint.”

    Eagles Wings

    Here I am waiting. Abide in me, I pray.
    Here I am longing for You
    Hide me in Your love. Bring me to my knees
    May I know Jesus More and more

    Chorus
    Come live in me all my life Take over
    Come breathe in me I will Rise on eagles wings

    Beautiful Savior Lord I love to feel Your touch
    You never forsake me. Lord You are always there.
    Each passing moment it’s You that I adore
    I love you Jesus more and more and more

    Chorus 2X

    I can fly I will rise on eagles wings
    I will run and not faint
    soar in Your ways like an eagle
    Put my hope and trust in You God.

  4. Cody, you and your family have not been out of my thoughts & prayers for a long time now, but in the last few days I have been grieving with you as if Susana were one of my grandchildren. I know I can never feel the pain you are feeling but my heart is broken for you. I wish I could have been there yesterday but I know there were many of your Christian brothers & sisters to hold you up. I have been sharing your story and posting your blogs on my facebook page for over a year. Some of my unsaved friends and family have been reading and asking questions about how you can have such faith through all of this. Some have realized how they need to renew their faith in the Lord. So, my friend, God is indeed getting the glory. I will continue to pray for all of you including your precious new life in Maria’s womb. Stay strong loved ones.

  5. After two short-term missions to Haiti and following the Livesays journals, I couldn’t help but follow you and your mission. I pray for your family and for your continued ministry. Your faith is one I hope to attain. You truly are LIVING it. Thanks for that.

    In HIM,

    Jeremy (your brother in HIM)

  6. Every single time my heart has been broken, and I’ve felt more pain than I could possibly bear, God has been there to hold me.

    He heals the brokenhearted
    And binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

    The people who I love, those who have died and I know they are with Jesus in heaven, I always tell my dad that they are up there having a party, waiting for us!!

    And those times I feel like I’m not being strong enough, I tell myself that I don’t have to be strong. I remember that His strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9)
    <3

  7. You are in our thoughts and prayers daily. He will bring healing to your family as I know you already know. My prayer is that he will carry you and give you the strength you need for each day. As I pray for our four little ones each night I can’t help but think of you all. I just can’t imagine . . . and I just don’t have the words. Through Christ alone you will rise again.

    Our love,

    Amie (and Cohen) Ezelle
    Belize, Central America

  8. We weep with you Cody and Maria. It hits so close to home having children that age. When I read your posts and Maria’s status updates I weep with you. As friend return home and family leaves the area…know we are just minutes away and ready to help when it’s next needed (meals in the coming weeks perhaps?)

    Stay strong, the testimony of your precious daughter and your family has brought so much glory to God.

    Love you guys!
    The Crowsons

  9. I cannot thinking and praying for you all. This is truly a time of imense pain that cannot be ignored or compared to any other and I will continue to pray for His comfort and peace to overwhelm you in the midst of it all. I will pray that He gives you hope in all the little things that remind you of little Susanita. I grieve and hurt with you and I know joy will come…not all at once but it will. Always my love and support…In Christ ALONE!

  10. I don’t know you guys, but my friend Kim told me about your daughter and your family. Reading your blogs and hearing your story..and praying for all of you..it’s brought alot of people around here hope and an increased faith. I just want you to know that. Hearing about the faith of your little angel, brings us all to our knees in thanking the Lord for His amazing grace and indescribable love. I know that this process will be long and hard. But, just know you have people all over the world praying for all of you. Continuously. And praising the Lord for your daughter. She is dancing with Him now, looking into His eyes which are as deep as the ocean. 🙂 God bless yall.

    -Sydney

  11. Thinking of you so very often and wishing you some small moments of the overwhelming knowledge that God loves you and His heart breaks with yours.

    I am no stranger to grief….my husband was killed 2+ years ago leaving me to raise 2 precious children. My now 6 year old daughter just attended her first Father/Daughter dance with a group of her friends and their dads. Afterwards she and I were talking about how Daddy was watching over her at the dance and was so very proud of her. She immediately responded with “I think he’s at a father-daughter dance in heaven dancing with a little girl whose daddy isn’t there yet.” I immediately thought of your Susanna. Oh, tears. I don’t pretend to understand what heaven is really like, but if there’s a father/daughter dance, I’m sure that my beloved Brian is ready to be a bonus dad for your Susanna.

    Wishing you comfort as you walk through this valley filled with the shadow of death.

  12. We cannot imagine your sadness. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. All words of consolation I might conjure up sound so trite so perhaps I can borrow another author’s word…

    We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by HOPE IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia — your faith in God has become known everywhere. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-8)

  13. In many ways although we don’t know one another our lives are similar. We too were missionaries serving in a foreign land. We too have faced losing our child. We too have crumbled at the feet of Jesus needing Him to carry us because we couldn’t take another breath without Him. Although, we endured hardship and heartbreak we did not lose our son. He remains with us on this earth. We are so sorry that your little girl is not with you here. We pray for you. We pray for Isabella. We share the burden of your suffering as we carry it to the cross each day asking Jesus to strengthen you and fill you so you can keep walking in Him alone. Today as my husband and I were talking about your great suffering we were discussing how often in this life we think once we get to heaven we will have questions for the Lord of WHY things happened but really more than likely when we get to heaven with Jesus it will not matter the why because we will be fully absorbed in worship to Him who sits on the throne. Hallelujah! I encourage you take those quiet, resting times to just simply be in His presence so He can fill you and give you the strength to face each new day. It is obvious you do so….continue so He can linger with you in those quiet places and heal your heart. This is our prayer for you as well:
    Is. 40:31
    “But 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 be faint. “

  14. Your familly is continually in my prayers. I remember how hard it was to lost my sister two years ago and I can only imagine how difficult it is to lose your own child. Our Lord needs her more than you do.

    God Bless you all.

  15. Whittaker family,

    I have followed your blog for the last year or so and you have been such an encouragement to me. Even when the trials were coming, your faith has always outshined your grief. Your family has constantly been in my thoughts and prayers these last few days and I have grieved with you. Also, please know that Fairwinds Baptist Church of Bear, DE is praying for you as well.

    “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” -2 Corinthians 12:9

  16. Andrea Pavkov,

    Thank you so much for your encouragement. Yes, only being absorbed in worship at the feet of Jesus can we truly find the rest that our hurting souls need. He is truly all sufficient in everything. God bless you.

  17. Dear Whitaker family, I have only been a member of Biltmore Baptist for a short time but in that time please know that your family has truly touched my family and especially me. Your precious Susana has touched more lives in her 4 years than alot of people will in a lifetime. Please know that I am praying for you and that you and your family are truly loved. June

  18. Susanna’s battle cry will always be in our hearts. One finger pointed Heavenward with arm extended. “To God be the glory forever” (amen, Susanna)

  19. Psalm 139 13-16
    Psalm 139:13 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
    Psalm139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. [fn] Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
    Psalm 139:15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
    Psalm 139:16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

    Job 14:5 You have decided the length of our lives. You know how many months we will live, and we are not given a minute longer.

    Psalm 62:2 He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

    Praying that God gives the comfort that only He can give to you!!!
    In our flesh we are weak, but made strong in GOD’s spirit!!!

    God is our rock and our fortress!!! God knows our pain and sadness!!!
    Seek in HIM the refuge and strength alone.

    Praying for rest and assurance from our Father in heaven for you tonight!!!!

  20. Dearest Family in Christ,
    I hurt for you and with you only because I can imagine the loss of a child. I have been blessed to read the few blog posts that I have. I will be continue lifting you up. May your darkest night be lightened by Susana playing in Heaven at the feet of our Savior.
    Love in Christ,
    Jen

  21. Having lost a child myself 5 years ago, I can say that in some way I am able to share in your grief. For reasons we do not understand God has placed us in a group of His children that we would never chosen to be in. Those who have lost children. I appreciate so much your faith in our Lord. It will sustain you through the days and weeks and months ahead. I am praising God for placing people in your life to lift you up and encourage you. The reality is however, that Christ alone will be your source of healing. When you weep it will be the presence of His Spirit that will calm your heart. There will be times when you think you too will die of the wound you carry. The hole in your heart will never go away, but I KNOW that God is able to fill it with His presence and abiding comfort and love. It is a great paradox, how sorrow and joy can dwell in the same heart. It does! I guess in my long winded way I am trying to say “Hold on. You will not only survive, in time you will thrive.” I still miss my son more that words could ever say, and I still having moments of great weeping for my loss, but oh how the joy of the presence of the Lord floods my soul today. My walk is more precious today that ever before. I know that God will bring you to this point because of your faith in HIm. Please, please get in touch with us if you ever want to talk with one who has walked this valley before you. Continue to climb this mountain of grief. The view at the top is worth the climb and you will see God more clearly that ever before. In Christ alone.
    Mary Jo Hill

  22. Dear Whittaker Family,
    Thank you for sharing your story and lives for all to read and be encouraged from. We know your pain for our daughter went to be with Jesus 10 years ago (age 14) after brief suffering from brain cancer. The hole in our hearts is still there but the Lord has brought us along our path and has never left us. I remember good people telling us to be encouraged but the pain was so very great. Our faith has grown and strengthened in ways that amaze us because of what we experienced. I pray the same for you and that you will continue to have eternity in your hearts.
    The best is yet to come. And yes, to God be the glory forever.

  23. Sandy,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. We do find comfort and encouragement from those especially who have walked this road that we are now walking. We know God is faithful and will get us through. We know that He will be glorified in ways that we could never have imagined. God bless you. Thanks again for the sweet reminder of all we have in Jesus.

  24. Mary Jo and Carl,

    Thank you so much for your encouragement. I will never grow tired of hearing those words, “In Christ Alone” For in Him alone is our hope found. God bless you.

  25. James,

    Psalm 62:2 is one of the verses that I have been standing upon all throughout this. Thanks. He truly is my rock and my fortress and I will not be shaken, that is, my faith will not be shaken. In Him I will find rest for my soul. He truly is all sufficient. Thanks brother for bringing the word of God that can bring great hope and light in the midst of the dark valley.

  26. Todd,

    “sufficient grace” is anything but empty. Those two words together are what get us through. He truly is sufficient…and His grace richly covers us. Thank you so much for those words.

  27. standing in solidarity with you.

    our children have committed to praying for your isabela. . . .

    oh how we long to give you comfort. God IS faithful and He will do just that as we pray.

  28. Dear Cody-
    I am so sorry to hear the news of your daughter; I cannot even imagine the pain you and your wife are going through. I have not stopped thinking about you guys and your little girl since I heard the news. Please continue trust that God is with you and your family. You all will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

  29. I don’t even know you, and I never had the privilege of knowing your precious daughter, but my heart goes out to you. I am thankful that Missionary Blog Watch highlighted your need for prayer as you go through these deep waters of grief. Bless you!

  30. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

    “Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return. They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy. Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.” Isaiah 51:11

    “I am leaving you with a gift — peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

    “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? ……… No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow — not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below — indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:35 – 39

    “No eye has seen no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9b

    “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

    “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.” 2 Corinthians 1:3

    “Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:10

    Philippians 4:6-13
    “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

    “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

    Psalm 31:24 “Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
    all you who wait for the Lord!”

    “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” – Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)

    “I love the Lord because He hears my voice and prayer for mercy. I will pray as long as I have breath.” Psalm 116:1-2 (nlt)

    Psalm 86:1-7
    Great Is Your Steadfast Love
    A Prayer of David.

    “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
    Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
    for you answer me.”

    PRAYING………..

  31. I am sorry I could not speak to you after the homecoming but we had kids to get from school. It was a most beautiful service, and it took such strength to share with us all that you did. The slide show was awesome, too! God was in the presence for sure!

    Could you check my link to Maria’s FB page? I cannot find it and I would like to send her a private message.

    Love you all.

  32. My heart aches for you. I aspire to truly live by faith just as you have demonstrated for me. Oh, how I wish I knew your little girl. I’ve been praying for you all. I have no words. You have my heart. My prayers are over you. May you feel Christ wrapping his arms around ALL 4 OF YOU….

  33. I have never met your family but you have impacted my life with your unwaivering faith.I want you to know that I think your family is amazing and with ever blog you inspire me to be a better christian.I can’t imagine as a mom of three losing a child and will be praying for your whole family as you face the future but am certain you will continue to impact lifes in a postive way through such tragedy.God bless

  34. My heart breaks for you. My whole church is praying for you. You have shown us all such strength and faith. Susana is sitting in the lap of Jesus and he is taking care of her now. She is an inspiration to everyone up there. God Bless you.
    Sue Matthews of Wilmington, DE

  35. Dear Cody & family,

    We are praying for you & your family at this time! May the Lord be Your strength and song as He always has been. Your love and strength in Him through this most difficult time ever is a testimony to your Faithful God. Our hearts are heavy and we are praying for you and your family! Love, Jonathan & Sharon Milo

  36. To say that I am sorry for your loss doesn’t touch the reality, just as to say thank you for sharing your family’s journey doesn’t adequately express what it has meant to me. You have been an amazing example of what it is to Fully Rely On God. You continue to be in my prayers daily.

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