Well, for those of you who don’t know, a few more days will mark the one year anniversary of when our little Susana was taken to her eternal home in Heaven. To say that I miss her just doesn’t do justice. Words can never describe the feelings that reside in my heart. It has been a year of pain that I have never known, yet at the same time it has been a year of drawing closer to the Lord like I have also never known. I still cry on a regular basis and I am thankful that the Lord has enabled me to grieve well. I am so thankful to the Lord for His grace that has been poured out on my family as we walk out the path that God has called us to.
It has been difficult for each one of us. But also each one of us have grown closer to the Lord more than ever in this last year. Just the other night, Isabela said something that almost brought me to tears. We were talking about watching a movie and we were trying to figure out of this movie was going to involve a child dying (a movie topic that is very hard for us to handle these days considering what we have gone through.) So, Isabela then says, “I hope its not like the movie that Mommy and I saw when we were in Haiti that had a little sister in the movie die, because I was crying after I saw that. Now, you have to realize that Isabela is not one who is quick to show her emotions of grief or discuss them. So, I was actually glad to her that she was crying after watching a movie that involved a little sister dying. But then I was blown away when she shared the story. She told us that after she saw the movie, she went in the bathroom to be alone and cry and she was balling her eyes out saying to God, “God, why didn’t you take me instead? I was older than she was. You could have taken me.”
When Isabela shared that quick little story that she hadn’t shared with any of us until a few nights ago, I was so incredibly touched in my heart to hear her. Yes, it was difficult to hear my 7 year old daughter talk about her crying because she misses her sister, but what was so incredibly touching was the love that was expressed in the heart of a 7 year old girl…a love so deep that she would have given her own life if that would have saved Susana. Oh my heart was so moved by what she said. Yes, of course both Maria and I have cried out the same things time and time again, especially when she was battling against the cancer, but to hear that same sacrificial heart coming from Isabela was simply beautiful.
And then I also shared with Maria about what else was so moving about what Isabela said. She asked the Lord why He didn’t take her instead. She has a confidence through her faith in Christ that she too is Heaven bound. And that is a beautiful thing to see in children. The child like faith of which Jesus states we must have in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. From what Isabela is able to know of Christ at a 7 year old level, she fully believes and is trusting in Him for the salvation of her soul. That is beautiful. So, I have one little princess who is already completely secure in her eternal dwelling and I have another who is demonstrating the faith that Jesus tells us is necessary to enter our eternal dwelling. How awesome is that? My prayer is just that she will continue to grow in her understanding of the Lord and desire always to follow Him. And also that my little son would grow up loving God with everything that is in Him.
But, as I stated above, it has still been a very difficult and painful year for all of us.
The truth is, that if I start to think and share with you what was going on in our lives one year ago today, I would fall apart and just weep uncontrollably. Its just too hard to re-live such painful details. I certainly don’t need to dwell on specific incidents and memories to bring up tears of sadness. The tears flow with ease just due to the fact that we are separated from her. It doesn’t really matter that she died from cancer and all that went along with that. The fact is simply that she is gone from this earth, from us, for a time, and that alone brings a pain that words cannot adequately describe. So, instead of re-living details and conjuring up memories of painful experiences, what I would rather do is just share about what the Lord is doing in my heart as I walk with Him daily in this journey that He has called me to.
First, I have to say that I have truly felt the presence of the Lord with every tear that I have cried. I know that He is with me. And for that, I am so grateful because it has been a year of sharing in the words of the psalmist, “my tears have been my food.” Much of my time alone with the Lord has usually resulted in the tears flowing. But I realize that there are many different kinds of tears. Some tears have been simply gut wrenching tears of pain and agony. Some tears have been tears of just sadness. Some have been tears of longing. And yes, some tears have even been tears of joy and wonder as I think about what my little girl is experiencing in Heaven. But I do truly believe that every tear has been shed in the presence of my Savior. The same One who comforts me behind closed doors where nobody else sees is the same One who is probably rolling on the floor laughing and playing with my little girl and millions of other children who are living in His presence more so than any of us are. What a comfort to my heart this truth is.
Also, I can’t even begin to tell you how much Scripture has come alive to me in this last year, especially Scripture that pertains to eternal life and all the promises that God gives that goes along with eternal life. The hope of Heaven and being with Jesus forever is more real to me than it has ever been. I read in the Scriptures about the joys of being in the presence of the Lord, and I just pause and reflect on the amazing fact that I have a daughter who is there right at this very moment experiencing all of these things that I am reading about. And truthfully, that brings joy to my heart, as well as an eagerness to join her and experience these things for myself as well…all in God’s perfect time. The more I read the Bible, the more excited I get for Heaven. What a huge lie that many believe who say that “some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” That’s a joke! I find that the more Heavenly minded I am, the more I desire to do good on this earth to bring glory and honor to my Savior who awaits me. So, I thank the Lord for drawing me closer to Him in His Word and reminding me of the promises that I have as His child, one of them being that I will see my little girl again.
So, I want to share briefly how the Lord spoke to my heart just the other day through a passage of Scripture in the Bible. Its funny actually how I came to even read this passage of Scripture. Trust me, I am not a mystic. I don’t read into too many things these days. But I also do know that God leads and guides in ways that we are sometimes not even aware of. So, I had to do this assignment for language class where I had to describe a person in the Old testament and share what this person did and what he or she was like. Now, there are so many people in the Old Testament that would come to mind for this assignment that I would normally choose, such as Jacob, Joseph, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, etc. But for some reason, when I sat down to do my assignment, I thought of Samuel. I told my wife that I was choosing Samuel and she was surprised and asked me why. So, I told her that maybe she’s right and that I should choose somebody else. So, I opened my Bible with the intent of looking for somebody else, but when I opened it, it landed right on the page of when Samuel was born. So, I told my wife that I decided to stay with Samuel after all. Again, I’m anything but a mystic, but looking back after seeing what God showed me, I really believed that this was orchestrated by Him.
So, in reading the story of Samuel, I started at the beginning with Samuel’s mother Hannah and her inability to conceive a child. Hannah prayed and cried out to the Lord for a long time. She was ridiculed by others in her family, but that did not stop her. She begged the Lord to give her a child. She told the Lord that if He gave her a child, that she would dedicate the child completely to Him. And God heard her and answered her prayer. One day, Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel. The child only lived with his Mother and Father for the first few years and then she brought him to the temple to have him live there with the priests for the rest of his life as she fulfilled her promise to dedicate him to the Lord. So, the Bible says that Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord all his days and the Mother only saw him once a year when her family came to the temple for one of the festivals.
So, here’s Hannah who has one consuming desire and that is to have a child of her own. And God answers her prayer and gives her a son, and she then takes her son and gives him completely to the Lord and only has the joy of living with him for the first few years of his life. And yet Hannah is so overwhelmed with joy at having a son that she writes this amazing song of thanks and praise to God, declaring just how wonderful He is. And yet Hannah does not get to live with her son. Hannah can only see her son once a year just for a few days. But that was enough. Why? Because no matter what, Hannah had a son. And she knew that she would be the son’s mother forever. It did not matter whether or not Samuel lived with her or not. She was his Mother wherever he was. But the beautiful thing about it is where he was. He wasn’t just away living in a different city or nation. No, the Bible says that Samuel grew up in the temple in the presence of the Lord.
And as I read this story, I stopped dead in my tracks as the Holy Spirit revealed to me this amazing truth that my daughter also is growing up in the presence of the Lord. God gave me the amazing joy of having her in my life for almost five years, and then He called her to a better place. She is still my daughter. I will always be her father, though now she is in the presence of the ultimate Father. My heart can rejoice in song knowing that my daughter is growing up in the very presence of the Lord and that she is still my daughter no matter where she is. Sure, I may not get to see her once a year, but perhaps the Lord will allow me to see her in my dreams once a year, I don’t know. But what matters most is that I have a daughter named Susana Raquel Whittaker and she is alive and well and is growing up in the best place that I could ever want…the presence of the Lord. And nothing can ever take that away. She is secure in His presence forever. And I can rejoice knowing that she will be my daughter always. It is but for a time that we are separated, but one day, one great and glorious day, the last enemy called death will be destroyed once and for all and we will be reunited forever with our loved ones who have gone on ahead of us.
And because of this, I can share in Hannah’s song, “My heart rejoices in the Lord; in the Lord my horn is lifted high…There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides You; There is no rock like our God.” (1Sam.2:1-2)
P.S. My next post will be on Feb. 11th, the anniversary of Susana’s homecoming Heavenly celebration.