When We Can't Trace His Hand...

...Trust His Heart

Our hearts are breaking tonight over a phone call I wish we never received.  One of our sweet friends has gone to be with Jesus tonight, just an hour or so ago.  Our friend Avery, pictured above in the blue shirt, died tonight of complications following surgery.  He left behind his precious wife, Joy, after being married for just a few years.  Joy is pictured below, next to me.

We have both known Avery and Joy for the last 7 years, but Travis has known them for even longer.  Avery was one of his dear friends in Naples and they spent a lot of time together, studying the word together and with other guys.  We rejoiced when he and Joy were married just a few short years ago, they were a perfect pair for one another.  I can hardly stand to think what she must be feeling and experiencing right now.  They are so young, in their late 20's, and now she is alone.  Although we know how deeply Avery loved the Lord and that he is certainly in the presence of his Savior, it is terribly difficult to imagine life for Joy and Avery's families, without him.  These are the days that I cannot understand God's plan or why He allowed this road for sweet Joy to walk.  It's seems too difficult, like too much to bear...Lord, why??? I cling to what I do know.

I know that our God is infinitely wiser than we are. 
Isaiah 55:8
I know that He works for the good of those who love Him.
Romans 8:28
I know that He promised never to leave us or forsake us, to walk with us.
Joshua 1:5
I know that He has paid the penalty of our sin and made a way for us to be with Him in Eternity.
John 3:16
I know death on earth is not the end of the story.
2 Corinthians 5:8

But it feels very unfair.
It feels very tragic.
And it feels very, very hard to understand.  

So we cling to God's character.
We trust in His Sovereignty.
We believe in His grace.
We rest in His peace.
And we cry out to Him in the midst of our pain...for our friends who are aching, for Avery's wife who is broken hearted, and for his family who is devastated.

I know most of you don't know them, some of you do.  But if you are reading this, will you pray tonight for his sweet wife, who is only in her 20's...Joy??
And will you pray for Avery's precious Mom, who raised him alone, her only child??

We are heartbroken for them.  We are sad for us.  I am sad for Travis.  Avery was a special friend and a guy he spent lots of time with.  It's never easy when death is sudden and leaves you without a chance for a good-bye.  And yet, even a good-bye is not the end when you've put your faith and trust in Christ, when you've realized your sin and believed in Him as your Savior.  There is hope in Christ and hope in death.  We will see Avery again one day and hug him for ourselves.  It's not the end of Avery's story...

But tonight there are many tears being shed for a life well lived on earth, for a man who faithfully loved Jesus, his wife, his family and his friends, until the hour God called him home.
We've loved knowing Avery and we'll miss him dearly.

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."
Psalm 116:15


hadassahrose said...

Praying for you and your family - and for all of the other loved ones this special man left behind. May God give you all of the peace and strength that you need to make it through every new day.

Amber said...

Oh, Steph. I can't imagine! I am praying now for you and Trav and for Avery's family and wife.
You articulate your faith and thoughts so well. Thank you.
Hugs to you guys tonight.

Charity said...

Wow. I'm so sorry to hear about this..praying for Joy and the rest of the family.
Thank you for the verses and great reminders.

LeighSW said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I literally just finished listening to this song, Your Hands by JJ Heller- may it be of some comfort to you.

Anonymous said...

Steph and Travis, I'm so sorry for this incredible loss. Praying for you and his wife and mom in the days ahead...Jenny

DramaCity said...

So sorry this happened. Praying for Joy and Avery's family~and you all too....

Michele said...

Stephanie, thank you for a wonderfully written post about Joy and Avery. We have been shocked, heartbroken, and sad over his death. We were able to have several men, some with their wives, over last night and spend time praying for Avery and Joy, reminiscing funny and encouraging stories and enjoying sweet time reading the word together. He impacted Sooo many lives. We even spoke of you and Travis. I think some of the guys want to "do something" (you know guys....they can't just sit around for long, they have to act). I think they may have an idea. Would you e-mail me if you think about it? Thanks!


Faith said...

Man, I cannot even begin to imagine how hard this would be. Praying for all who are hurting. If I'm learning one thing right now, it's that God does give us more than we can bear, so He can bear it for us.

Toni :O) said...

Oh so sad, my deepest sympathies to you all. I just cannot imagine the grief. Keeping you all in my prayers, especially Joy. Hang in there and keeping clinging to God for strength.

Toni :O) said...

Oh so sad, my deepest sympathies to you all. I just cannot imagine the grief. Keeping you all in my prayers, especially Joy. Hang in there and keeping clinging to God for strength.

Brian and Cherie Landowski said...

I too am in shock and just can't believe this has happened. Joy is very much a sweet caring woman that I love dearly. I just cannot imagine losing your spouse at such a young age. I know this is a difficult time for her but she is so deep in Christ's embrace that I know he will carry her through this. What a sweet family...

Rebecca Jo said...

My heart breaks for everyone in this hard to understand why a young person who has so much future ahead is taken away... but we know God is in control & that life was not wasted....

This is the time where all your faith TOGETHER is going to help you in such a time of sorrow!

Sending hugs & prayer to everyone!

Heather said...

I am so sorry, Steph! I am saying a prayer.