Back in the summer of 2006, my happy, peaceful world crashed. Suddenly, the world – my world – as I knew it, was forever altered. There wasn’t a thing I could do about it. After an emergency room visit, my mother’s health was dangling precariously and she was feeling depressed about it all, too. I was in despair. My mother could die and I was celebrating a birthday. Sweet Sixteen didn’t feel so sweet anymore.

Because of this crash, I was unexpectedly promoted from a simple schoolgirl to housekeeper, schoolteacher, and take-care-of-everything-including-siblings-extraordinaire-girl. I mean, of course I knew how to do simple chores, but all of a sudden running an entire household was quite another thing! With an older brother away at college, being second oldest meant that the responsibility fell to me to take care of household matters while Dad worked to support us and Mama lay in bed.

I definitely wasn’t the ideal teen to take over the house, but I didn’t have a choice in the matter. I had to - my family was depending upon me. Things didn’t always go well. I was a very distressed and inexperienced housekeeper. I struggled doing laundry, cleaning, organizing, teaching my siblings, and doing my own homework, on top of everything else included in running a household.

Honestly, I wasn’t very happy with God. I felt like it was not fair – that He was throwing all this at me. I mean, according to the world’s standards, Sweet Sixteen was supposed to be when everything is going your way, when you’re having the time of your life. Instead, I was crying myself to sleep and struggling to believe that something good could come out of this trial. I was so upset, too. Why would God let this happen to my dear mother and my family? Why did I, at sixteen, have to run my house? I still didn’t have my driver’s license and was still working on Algebra! Come on, I wasn’t supposed to be doing this. I couldn’t believe it God was making me do this.

But the Lord was still at work in the midst of despair and pain. He brought friends to my side, to help with meals, chores, teaching, and everything else needed. He brought heart-warming letters that had Scriptures and words of wisdom and encouragement. And one special verse from Isaiah 43:2. I felt just like that, that I was drowning and couldn’t get to the surface to catch a breath. Slowly He showed me that He was still with me and loved me so much. I repented of my wrong attitude and began to spend more time in the Holy Word, seeking words of comfort and security. I clung to my “water promise” verse through it all.

I cried out to the Lord, to save my mother’s life, to deliver her from hopelessness and to heal her. I prayed and cried out and waited for the Lord more times than I could count. I asked that good would come from all this, but I wasn’t sure how that was possible.

And, oh, was He faithful! After a year of tears and seemingly hopelessness, a year of hurts and wounds, a year that seemed to never end, my mother was healed. Slowly she became stronger and stronger. Soon it was Mama, and not me, that was running the house and teaching my siblings! I was really happy about that!

You know, I would have been glad if that was as far as my answered prayers went, but God surprised me and answered all of them. I realized I was actually thankful for that hard year. I began to see things in a new way, that this had been a year of training, a year of growth in faith, and a year of lessons. It was a year of growing closer together as a family, of learning all the daily tasks my Mama did for me, and of God’s unexplainable peace. I found myself able to comfort others when they were going through a hard time, like it says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. And you know, I found that God took what I viewed as bad and used it for good (Romans 8:28).

It’s been over four years later since that trial. When I'm tempted to throw my hands up in the air and say, "God, this is hopeless!", I remember. I look back and marvel at His goodness and faithfulness. And I know without a doubt that He's never gonna fail me.


  1. Here is a relevant song:

    Too bad "the robot speak-and-spell" lyrics are missing.

  2. Dear Joanna,
    That was a beautiful testimony. Thank you for sharing your heart and your struggles with us.
    It is so true that some of the things that we look back on as some of the hardest trials of my life, have been the times when I have grown closest to God. May God be with you sister and bless you for your heart and your love.
    In Him,

  3. I really enjoyed reading this. It reminded me of a time in my life when my mom was too sick to take care of us. Its rough isn't it. Its impressive that you over came it and realized that God can work through anything. I know that my darkest days is when I learn the most. The biggest tragedy would have been if you gave up and allowed the darkness to take over. Joshua 1:9 helped me through a lot. He's doing a great work in you my dear. :)

  4. I was deeply touched by your story. It really is true that God never forsake us. He is always there and you yourself have proven it. He just gives us trials to make us stronger and to become a better person.

  5. This is a wonderful testimony of how God can use experiences to teach us more about His heart and His character. For me, the biggest impact of your story was the overall learning about God's grace and provision. Even four years later you still have a greater faith and trust in your loving Father. This touches my heart the most. So often we learn great truths or have experiences that teach us about God's goodness and faithfulness to us, but we all too easily forget these experiences and turn back to our patterns of doubt or fear. I'm so thankful to hear that you have taken what you have learned about God's faithfulness and allowed it to become a permanent part of your experience and your perception of His work in your life. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  6. This was a great reminder of God's faithfulness. He is always there guiding us through. Thank you for sharing!

  7. Sorry for making a barely constructive comment to your wonderful story, "Drowning". I am happy for you, yet very sad that the Harris brothers' had a completely opposite outcome.

    What I want to know is why God's answer was completely different in both cases. Please consider making this a topic for "Talkative Thursdays", aka "Jeudis Jasettes" or, formally, "Conversations".

  8. This post is... ME. I needed to hear this. I needed that verse. I'm sitting here crying. I'm sixteen right now. My family has only recently come through homelessness, and with parents struggling to make ends meet, I've had to learn to step up and be a housekeeper. One day I wrote a poem I entitled 'bittersweet sixteen'. This was the year I'd looked forward to all my life for some unexplainable reason. But it wasn't turning out to be a good year at all. We were in a new place, and I didn't have any true friends. I'd a ton of baggage and hurt from recent happenings. I had nowhere to go. Trapped in a tiny house with nothing but tasks at every turn. But, recently God has gotten ahold of me. And slowly but surely he's shown me that the worst of things can be turned into unfathomable good. He's set me free, and loved me, and changed me. Some days, I'm terrified that I'll just drown. But He's got plans, and perfect plans. And this post perfectly ties into everything that's been happening in my life. Thank you so much for sharing! God's so poetic with life, isn't he?

  9. Thank you all for your encouraging comments. What a blessing to know that the Lord is using this testimony in your hearts! May He receive all the glory and honor!

    I did want to make a note about something Alex brought up:

    Yes, the Harris brothers lost their dear mother to cancer. They probably went through a lot of what I did, so I know how they feel.

    I don't know why the Lord chose to take their mama Home and keep my Mama here on earth for now. I don't have that answer.

    But I do know that our God is sovereign and loving and good. And that His plans are much higher than ours.

  10. Thanks for sharing your story. I needed to be encouraged today! After 4 1/2 years of relentless chronic illness, I too have learned that trials can be a blessings, and God always has a purpose, even when I am too blind to see it. Blessings to you!


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