Forgiveness amid tragedy

Shock. Horror. Is it true? Surely not. How could it be?

I was in my little quiet time room in the basement, having my morning time with God when Daniel came in. These shocking words came out of his mouth: “Jonathan’s wife, Wilma, got shot early this morning.”

My mouth hung open. There were no words to say, yet there were a hundred unanswered questions. The oldest of my 47 cousins on Dad’s side lost his wife.

As the day wore on, we gathered bits of information. Along with their 6-year-old son, Jonathan and his wife were in Indianapolis working on fixing trailer lights across the street from a filling station when two armed men stepped up and asked for their money, which Jonathan handed over. According to surveillance cameras nearby, the robbers each shot at the couple, as Jonathan and Wilma raised their hands in surrender . Wilma was instantly killed. Jonathan recalls crying out to God to at least spare one of them for the sake of their four children.

Young Braden later reported that he jumped out of the truck after the shooting and went over to Mom, asking if she’s okay; when she could not respond, he tried to get Dad to respond, who was only semi-conscious. After about 20 minutes, with great efforts due to his injuries and blood loss, Jonathan made his way to the pickup and asked little Braden to give him the phone and dialed 911, asking for help.

Family, friends, all are in shock, yet God is undeniably bigger than it all. God certainly does not ask us to understand it all, yet we see the trace of his hand through it all. Jonathan reports having called the police, but according to his phone, there never was an actual phone call made. Did God make that connection when Jonathan was physically not able to make the simple call?

Now today, eight days later, Jonathan came home from the hospital. He suffered various neck injuries, including three fractured vertebrae, which they fused. Despite it all, he seems to be healing faster than the doctor expected him to, for which we praise God. Tomorrow and the day after will be visitation and funeral.

My constant cry to God is that He can do his profound work in each of our hearts during this traumatic time. Only God can heal broken hearts, and although Jonathan is completely crushed and devastated, he does not hold it against the robbers for shooting his wife. Jonathan has forgiven them, which must truly be only because of the power of Jesus! His heartfelt longing is not for them to receive a harsh punishment, but that they can fall before the Lord in repentance and be saved. His testimony of having forgiven those who killed the love of his life challenges me to love and forgive, no matter what.

Okay, this is Saturday afternoon now. We just got back from the funeral. In the funeral sermon we were challenged to deeply search our hearts and our willingness to completely follow what is taught in the Bible, so that when our life on earth has ended, that our soul can be Jesus, forever free and at rest.

There were 1,100 people attending the funeral. It was saddening to see those dear young girls, ages 9, 12, and 16, and young Braden with no mother. My heart felt crushed anew as I looked at a picture they had posted of Jonathan and Wilma at a little table enjoying a date together. Never again will it happen. I look at my dear husband and know that we, too, are not promised another day together. Then I set my face toward my Savior, slipping my hand in His, I tell Him that I’ll go with Him, and serve Him, as long as I have breath; then only do I know in my heart that life is worth living, come what may.

No matter what we are faced with, God will bless endlessly as we give our complete “Yes” to Him.

I’ll be winding up with noodles, which we had the evening of Wilma’s visitation. Grandma’s noodle recipe, which we used at her funeral two years ago, has been an all-time favorite for all of us, so I’ll use her version.

GRANDMA’S CHEESY ONE-POT NOODLES

1 quart chicken broth

1 quart water

4 teaspoons chicken bouillon

1½ teaspoons salt

1 pound medium noodles

1 (10½ oz.) can cream of chicken soup

½ cup melting cheese (such as Velveeta)

½ cup butter

Instructions

Bring first four ingredients to a boil in a large kettle.

In the meanwhile, melt butter over medium heat, continue to heat until butter is nice and brown then add cheese and chicken soup, keep heating until cheese has melted.

Once the water mixture comes to a boil add noodles and bring to a boil again. Next add butter mixture and remove from heat. Let set a couple hours and the noodles should be ready to stir and eat!