By Tori Hook, Contributing
“I don’t believe God took my parents away at all… He didn’t make it happen, but he made it beautiful. And he made me beautiful through it.”
Christians have always had difficulty reconciling belief in a loving God with the troubling reality of pain and suffering. But for junior Jeremy Davidson, the struggle with these tough questions has been all too real.
Though Davidson’s family moved frequently, he described his childhood as “great.” His dad was a devoted deacon, while his mom was their “rock” through all the moves. Davidson and his two sisters were homeschooled, which fostered a unique sense of family unity.
A few years after their move to Louisville in 2007, Davidson’s father was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that “caused his bones to be glass.” Davidson painfully explained its physical toll: “He sneezed and a rib cracked one time. And throwing up because of the chemo, he broke his collarbone straight in half.”
Coupled with his mother’s debilitating self-confidence issues, which sprouted up after one of their moves, his father’s cancer diagnosis gave way to a “sedentary” period in Davidson’s life, after which the fight for his father’s life had to be taken up all the harder. Davidson grinned proudly and explained how his dad “relied on God amazingly” even when the rest of the family “[wasn’t] doing a good job of it at all.”
In July of 2011, Davidson’s mom went in for a simple surgery to aid her breathing. In the middle of the night, in pain and foggy from medicine, she took almost an entire bottle of pain medication and accidentally overdosed, tragically passing away the next morning. “It was the roughest morning of my life,” Davidson continued, his hands over his eyes. “All of us sat on the couch and prayed for a miracle and nothing happened.” That night, he looked up at God and said, “I’m done with you. I’m not saying you don’t exist, but I don’t want you [because] you didn’t save my mom.” Three nights later, he finally hit his breaking point and confessed to God, “I can’t do this. You have to take this.” Davidson identifies this surrender as the moment he fully gave his life to Christ.
Through the next few months, the church rallied around his family. But in January of 2012, Davidson’s father broke his hip, and the doctors informed the family of the horrific choice in front of them: perform a surgery to repair the hip with only a five percent chance of survival or put him on heavy pain medication and let him go slowly. Davidson and his paternal grandfather agreed not to let him die on an operating table. “Watching my dad was just so cool because he was on his deathbed and [was] still being a good example of what a Christian was.” With a bittersweet smile, Davidson confesses, “Just thinking back to that time, it makes me so happy to see him.”
After Davidson’s father passed away on January 23, 2012, he entered into a period of numbness. “I didn’t know how to deal with it,” he explained, “until, finally, someone said, ‘Where are your parents?’ And then I said, ‘Well, they’re in heaven.’” The realization that “it’s okay, God [still] has them,” was the way out of the numbness for Davidson. Later that year on a youth retreat, Davidson received his calling to high school students and started looking for colleges with a youth ministry major, finally landing on the campus of Asbury University.
To those in a dark place, Davidson says, “Be not okay. Life does suck sometimes. The pain and the distance you feel from God [are] real, but there’s a light in front of you. I know it’s hard to see, but it’s there. Find someone who knows the path you’re on, and let them walk it with you.” Though stories like Davidson’s don’t solve the problem of pain, they do give a glimpse into the heart of a God who transforms even the most broken situations into beautiful stories. And, as Davidson so perfectly put it, “The most exciting part is that it’s not over yet! It’s just starting!”