“THIS IS GOING TO SHOCK YOU, but I’m getting a divorce,” the letter read.
She was right; I was shocked. My sister and her husband had been married for 10 years, had three beautiful boys, and were on their third
house. I hated that I would be talking to her long distance, but that didn’t stop me from calling.
I barely got the words out when she started yelling, “I can’t talk now; he’s harassing me again!” I could hear Peggy’s husband in the
background, taunting her. What was going on? My stomach started hurting.
Feeling helpless, I said, “I’ll pray,” and I hung up. The 2,000 miles between us felt like a million.
A couple days later I received another call. I ran to the phone, hoping it was my sister.
“Did you hear? Peggy’s gone!” my sister-in-law said. “No one knows where. Her husband says she just walked out.”
And that began our nightmare. But we knew one thing—Peggy never walked out.
You don’t walk out and leave your three precious children. You don’t walk out without picking up your last paycheck. You don’t walk out in a suburb of Chicago and not take your car.
But we never saw her again.
Peggy’s missing person case was changed to a possible homicide, and we had 10 days in court—22 years after her disappearance! They were 10 very grueling days. Not very long, but long enough.
Long enough to let the whole thing rip us apart again. Long enough to hear even more things that made us hurt. Long enough to hear the judge pronounce her husband “not guilty.”
And what happened then? We sat in silence and watched while the other side of the courtroom erupted in cheers, giving Peggy’s husband high fives and slapping him on the back.
HOW DO YOU TRUST GOD?
A couple of weeks after the trial we held a memorial service. We stood on Peggy’s empty grave.
So how do you trust God when you have no answers, when you don’t understand the losses you’ve endured? The only way is to lean into what you know to be true.
GOD IS SOVEREIGN
This means God knows everything. He was not surprised when Peggy sent me that letter. Nor was He surprised when she disappeared.
God knows exactly what happened September 12, 1982. Peggy has been missing to us, but never to Him.
The Bible says in Psalm 34:18 that God is near the brokenhearted. I’m sure that as Peggy’s heart was broken, God was near.
DAYS OF TORMENT
I’m not going to lie and tell you that all I had to do was trust God and the whole thing was easy. It was hellish. There were times I’d be driving home from my support group for those affected by homicide when I would pull off the road and scream at the top of my voice, letting my tears fall. My heart shattered into a million pieces.
I remember one day in particular when I was being tormented by what Peggy’s last moments must have been like. It was then I heard God gently say, “Anne, I was with her.”
It says in Philippians 4:7 that God will give us peace. His peace is unlike any other. There was no way I should have been able to rest under those circumstances. And yet, I felt surrounded by a calm. It didn’t make sense. It had to be God.
LEANING INTO GOD
Whenever we feel as if we’re all alone, we need to lean into God, to trust in what we know to be true no matter how we feel. Feelings cannot be trusted. We can learn to lean, just like He tells us in Proverbs 3:5, 6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (NKJV).
The problem is that we often lean on what we understand instead of leaning on God. It takes trust to stop trying to figure things out. Even if we don’t understand something, it is enough that God does. If we put our faith in Him, we can know it is in capable hands.
TRUSTING DESPITE THE PAIN
One day as a young mom I was rushing around and accidentally closed the car door on my 3-year-old son’s finger. Nathan looked up at me with his giant brown eyes, tears running down his face. “Why did you do that, Mom?”
He couldn’t believe I would hurt him. I took him in my arms, hugged him, and explained it was an accident. As he settled down I could feel him totally relax. He still had the pain, but he trusted me again.
Some people have told me they would never be able to rest if they did not know where their loved one’s body was. And I understand that, because that’s how I felt for a while. But when God gave me peace, it changed everything.
I don’t know everything, but God does. And His knowing is enough.
WE CAN HANDLE IT WITH HIM
Christians sometimes tell those who are hurting, “God will never give us more than we can handle.” But if God gave us only what we ourselves could handle, we wouldn’t need Him. When we say that to someone who is hurting, they might wonder, What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I handle this?
God gives us what we’ll be able to handle with Him.
In John 15:5, Jesus talks about His being the vine and we the branches. He adds, however, that apart from Him we can do nothing. The longer I know Him, the more I’m aware of how much I need Him. He has promised that He will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6), and He has kept that promise.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
Whatever is going on in your life, be assured that God knows all about it as well. And He cares. He truly does. Trust in Him. Lean on Him. He will see you through.