So much to say…

It’s been a week since I last posted anything.  So much has happened in that last week.  I have thought about so much.  God has revealed some things to my heart.  By His grace, I have spoken to many about His truth and love.  I have so much in my head that I want to say.  Yet, the only thing that comes out with clarity is,  “I miss my little girl.”

My heart just aches.  I think about Susana all throughout my day.  The first thing I often think about the second I open up my eyes in the morning is, “She’s gone.”  Normally, I would be woken up by the sound of her pitter-patter feet coming from her bedroom to ours, the door opening up, and her crawling into bed with us, or her bursting through the door shouting, “Good morning Daddy!”.  And now, I just wake up to my own deafening silence.  Oh how my heart hurts.

Maria and I both have our moments of weeping throughout the day.  Sometimes we weep together and other times we weep alone, yet even in our alone times, we are more together than ever in our weeping.  Sometimes we weep and want to talk about Susana and what it is that we miss about her, and other times the moments are too sacred for words and we know it is best to just weep.

And even amidst this struggle, God is with us.  He is teaching us.  And He is using us for His glory to impact lives.  And this is how it seems it will be for the rest of our lives.  We have been crushed, but for a purpose, and that purpose is to bring Him glory by sharing the truth that He is sufficient, even in our greatest pain.  He is sufficient.

And that’s what this past week has been like.  We returned from Haiti on Monday.  We have good friends in South Florida who had set up a gathering of people to come to their house on Friday evening where we would be there to share about our mission work in Haiti.  Well, that gathering quickly outgrew their house and so they were given a church sanctuary to host the gathering since about a hundred people were planning on attending.  That gathering also seemed to turn towards people hoping to hear not only about our mission work, but also about what God was doing in our lives through our trial of losing Susana.  The gathering would not just include Christians who already knew of God’s great grace and sovereignty, but also those who were unaware of such a God.  The gathering would not just include those who have never suffered tragedy or the loss of a child, but actually would have a couple attend who just lost a little girl two days earlier and desired to come to hear what we had to share about how God has ministered His truth and grace to our hearts.  So, here was an opportunity to bring glory to God by sharing about our real struggle and pain and how a real God was bringing us through our grief for Hs glory.

The gathering was called, “An Evening with the Whittakers”.  And an evening with the Whittakers is what they got.  We’re not pretty these days.  We’re very raw.  We hurt more than ever.  I did not run up to the podium that night…I crawled.  The first thing I shared was that we were a mess.  I shared how earlier that morning, Maria and I had a huge fight and that the central figure of the argument was Susana!  Yes, my wife and I were fighting over issues pertaining to our precious daughter who was called home to heaven.  It was very sad.  But it was just the reality of the pain in our hearts that sometimes gets the best of us.

But I also shared about God’s incredible promises to those who trust in Him.  I shared about His strength that comes to those who wait upon Him.  I shared about how our struggles and pain here are nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed to us when we get to heaven.  I shared about how God is truly all sufficient through any trials that we face.  And I shared that this does not necessarily take away one single ounce of our pain, but rather that it just gives purpose and understanding to our pain.  And in this understanding, we have the grace to grieve and the hope to know that His plan is greater, much greater, than our grief.  And that is how we are able to say with great conviction, “Still, I will praise You.”    After speaking, I picked up a guitar and led the gathering of people into Susana’s song, “Never Let Go” by Matt Redman.  It was beautiful to see all the people lift up their hands (just like Susana and our family used to do)  when we sang the lines, “Still, I will praise You.  Still, I will praise You Lord.”

I was also invited to share the Sunday morning message at Christ Community Church in South Florida where our friends attend.  So, it was a busy week of preparing messages to share while at the same time doing a lot of crying.  This was not paradoxical at all, the fact that I was crying a lot while at the same time writing about God’s goodness, grace, love, and strength.  No, our tears do not negate the truth of His goodness and grace.  And our pain does not mean that we are not appropriating His grace and truth.  We fully embrace such grace, but we are still human…and we hurt more than ever.  But, our hope is not moved.  We know He has a greater purpose to glorify His name and we also know that this is only temporary – that we will see our daughter again and live forever in heaven with her.

But we still vacillate between holding fast to such glorious truths and promises and experiencing the pain of missing our little girl more than words could ever convey.  We are broken.  And in that brokenness, He is being poured forth from us.  It is such a hard way to live, but I believe that this is what He has chosen for us.  And so, perhaps this is what our lives will look like from this day on – standing in front of hundreds of people with the message that Christ is sufficient, that He is all together glorious, and then balling our eyes out on the drive home.  And that’s exactly what happened.  After sharing on Friday with many, and then on Sunday with many more, during our drive heading back to Asheville, my heart was so sad and I was just balling.  I couldn’t stop thinking about Susana and how much I miss her.  And I thank the Lord for my wife who was able to hold my hand and quietly stand beside her grieving husband.

We arrived back home last night, and our hearts broke some more as we entered back into the house.  Now, everything we saw reminded us of Susana.  Even the bed that we sleep on is filled with both the greatest memories as well as the most painful memories of her last days with us.  So, it was overwhelming.  So much so, that I had to ask Maria if we could go into our room and just pray.  Those were code words for, “Can we go into the other room so that I could ball my eyes out before God and with you by my side?”  And that’s what I did.

And now, we prepare ourselves for the next step – getting ready to go back to Haiti and run our race of faith.  There is a call that God has given us that we must follow no matter what.  And we will go.  And we will grieve.  But we will go.  And we continue to say, like Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”  And we continue to pray that dangerous prayer, “Lord, use us for Your glory.”  And we continue to cry out, “Lord, we want to know You.”  And as I shared on Sunday morning, that knowing Jesus means not just the power of His resurrection, but also sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings.  And yes, we will continue to pray that prayer…for He is worth it!

Still…I have so much to say…

10 thoughts on “So much to say…

  1. Oh Code, beautiful. Simply beautiful. And horrible and heartbreaking too. I want to respond, but I just don’t know what to say. There are no words. Only tears. My heart breaks for you. I love you guys so much and weep for the cross that you bear. But I also am encouraged. God “knows” you. God “trusts” you. God has heard your cries and has chosen to answer them. Just not how we would have chosen. I pray for you and Maria, Isabela and Ervin daily. Hourly. Constantly. You are always in my thoughts. The Psalm that has become my prayer for you is Psalm 90 13 – 17: “Relent, O Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands.” Code, thank you for inviting us to share this journey with you. Thank you for being transparent and “real”. Even though you feel like a “mess”, your vulnerability is what’s speaking to people. The broken. The hurting. They (we) need you in whatever way you choose to share. Raw or not. Because when you share, you are sharing the Christ in you. The hope of glory. The beautiful, believable, redeemable Christ in you. AND THAT IS WHEN YOU SHINE!!! That is where HE shines through you!!! I love you my friend. I love what’s broken and I love that His promises for you are true. I love your beautiful and brave wife. I love your hearts. I love that this is not the end. I love the life and the ministry that the Lord gave to your sweet Susana. Your little missionary angel. XO

  2. As I send my children out the door to school, and return to sit by the side of my dying husband, your words remind me once again that God will see us through and that He is sufficient for all our “needs” (what a weak word!) Your journey continues to give me hope and strength for my own!

  3. Thank you Cody for being real, It has led me to pray that prayer today… Come what may, Lord use us for Your glory. I am broken but you are sufficent… Everything you are… Lord God, be with the Whittakers… Grace them God of all grace…

  4. Cody, you continue to bless my heart with each post. My heart breaks with your family, but thank you for being “raw”. Your realness is what helps people believe in our God!! And as a previous poster commented…”we’re listening”

  5. My heart breaks for you all….I can’t imagine…what overwhelming grief you are experiencing; God is holding you all and will sustain you as you take each new step of Faith…… Obviously, There are no words that I or anyone could say to reduce or remove your pain, but know SO many are touched and so deeply saddened by your loss, and lifting up fervent prayers to our Lord and Savior who is our Great All Sufficient comforter. Praying…Hoping….Trusting…..Rest in Him.

    Romans 8:18-27
    “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 revealing 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 intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

    “Hebrews 4:16 “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

    God of All Comfort
    2 Corinthians 1:3-7 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.”

    Psalm 73:23-26
    “Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

  6. Wow. Amazing! You are truly doing great things in this world.. so thankyou! We need more people like you! And this is now my goal.. though I cant travel to a different country.. I can make a difference from right outside my door! Thankyou for putting things into perspective and opening my eyes.
    You have strengthened my relationship with Him so much! 🙂
    <3
    Praying for you all!

  7. Dearest Whittaker family-

    I want to say THANK YOU for the amazing gift you gave me by hearing your story that Friday night in the church 2 days after our Mackenzie entered Heavens gates. It was Dawn George from http://www.ChildrenBattlingCancer.com who invited us. I had to drag my husband out of the house, but I just knew in my heart that this was going to be a huge gift and a tremendous blessing for our family and I knew God was opening a door for us and that we needed to listen. I can not explain why I am so strong, so sure of myself and so convinced that everything is fine except to say that I can see when I look at Kenzie’s journey in reverse I can SEE God’s perfect plan played out. I remember that night as you were speaking and you said something about people being angry at God and how they couldn’t understand how/why this had happened to you, you who were spreading the word to those hurting souls in Haiti and I turned to Dawn and said “that’s why”, because he KNOWS those promises in the Bible, he believes and he is strong enough and vocal enough to convey that to others. I could completely see why this had happened to you of all people. It is only through these horrifically painful tests and trials that you can be strengthened and you shouted your praises up there that night. For me it was a confirmation to see you, to solidify what my heart was telling me in my own situation, and I was so thankful, so happy to hear you speak, to see your planned speech get tossed out at the last second. Just as Susanna was called Home, you had been called to get the message out and it was so powerful to experience. Mackenzie’s journey took us back to the church, first through a chance encounter with the owner of the Celebration cruiseship and a dead battery, later with a fun beach retreat with cancer families with http://www.Lighthousefamilyretreat.org and now we are happily a part of Journey Church eager to experience all it has to teach us. I THANK YOU so much for speaking, for the messages you brought to us, for your willingness to share your faith so openly and honestly. I can see so clearly why it takes a child to deliver these messages to us, it just wouldn’t be the same and you’d never get it if the teachings came from an adult with cancer. The blessings are many and are yours for the taking. I am so sorry for the loss of your precious Susanna, but want youu to know that while I never knew her in life here on Earth, her message and your teachings now reside in me and will reach so many people and that is beautiful, she will live in the hearts of even those who didn’t know her. You are a gift to my family, you’ll be a gift to all who listen, both believers and those whose eyes you’ll open. I don’t really have words to comfort your pain, but I do want to say THANK YOU for our paths crossing. I have a sign in my house, found it at the Goodwill after we lost everything in the hurricanes, got mold, had to dispose of all our material possessions and move out for 2 years while they allegedly remediated and rebuilt. It says “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” Meeting you and hearing you speak was one of those moments. Continue your walk with faith, strength and love and remember all that your eyes have seen. You are an inspiration! Blessings to you and your family!

    Sue
    http://www.Caringbridge.org/visit/MackenzieGonzalez

  8. Sue,

    Wow! Thank you so much for those encouraging words. May the Lord Jesus be glorified in your lives also as you share with others the great hope we have in Him. may He use the calling of your daughter home to bring glory to His name as people around you see the supernatural grace and strength that He has given you and desire to know this God of all grace and truth. God bless you, and thanks again for such encouragement. We are both walking a difficult road that we would never have chosen, but the Lord has His purposes. And one day, we shall see Him face to face and understand everything. And, we shall see our loved ones that went on ahead of us. Keep focused on Him and His glorious promises.

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