Grief, Guilt and God’s Goodness

Discovering God’s comfort through a lifetime of grief

By Bethany Lockett – BSF Editorial Assistant

After decades of grief and pain, Sandy Stubbs finally felt ready to share her story. During last year’s BSF Share Day, Sandy walked to the microphone, took a deep breath, and gestured to the road behind the church where her class gathered.   

“You know that (traffic) light up there?” she began. “That light was put there because of my child’s death.”  

As she recounted her sorrow, Sandy also reflected on God’s abounding love as He continued to give her peace and hope in her darkest moments. 

But, as she would soon learn, her story was not over. God would miraculously extend His comfort once again. This time, through an unknown connection to a listening BSFer. 

Walking with grief 

Forty-six years earlier, Sandy woke up in the intensive care unit at a local hospital. Unable to move and in immense pain, Sandy sobbed. 

Earlier that day, while driving with her 5-year-old son, David, Sandy’s car was struck by a drunken driver. When she regained consciousness after the accident, she was told that a nurse had already taken her son to the hospital. She assumed he was mostly unharmed.   

In the ambulance, Sandy kept herself awake by imagining doctors rolling her past her young, scared child in the hospital. She planned to tell him everything was going to be all right.  

But when they arrived, Sandy discovered that her son had been taken to a different hospital and his injuries were extensive.

David died later that night.

Days later, as she lay in her hospital bed, Sandy wondered, “What kind of world is this if cruel people are allowed to live and little David, who could not even make an angry face … this innocent child … had been taken? How can there be a God?” 

Through her pain, Sandy cried out to God. All she could manage was to say “God if you’re real and if you’re there, help!”

She described a sudden feeling that a “10-gallon bucket of peace” was dumped on her head, covering her completely and providing instant comfort. After this experience, Sandy and her husband, David, accepted the gospel and clung to the comfort that they would see their son again in Heaven.

After Sandy recovered, she and her husband had three more children. They celebrated birthdays, Christmases, and school graduations. Life seemed hopeful.

But their journey of grief was not over.

As Sandy’s daughter grew into a young adult, she began to abuse drugs. Sandy prayed persistently and shared her faith.

Tragically, Sandy’s daughter died at the age of 21. 

The couple was devastated. Once again, they found themselves mourning the loss of a beloved child. 

As Sandy and her husband sorted through their daughter’s belongings, they discovered a journal with a small cross. The journal included Scripture, a plan of salvation and these simple words:

“If you think it’s funny that I have this cross, know this … I belong to Jesus.”

Once again, Sandy experienced God’s gracious comfort that she would see her child again.

Living with guilt

Although she held to this hope, Sandy continued to be overwhelmed by guilt and grief. She felt like a failure as a mother. She even called herself a “50 percenter,” because in her mind she had only been able to keep half of her children alive.

Although she had never spoken about her feelings to anyone else, Sandy shared her struggle with a dear friend. Together, they prayed for Sandy’s freedom from guilt.

“That night when I went to bed, I was awakened by this thought; I know it came from God. It was, ‘Sandy, what do you want for your children? What is your heart’s desire for your children?’”

“And I said, ‘God, I want them to worship you and serve you. I want their lives to glorify you.’ It was like He spoke to me and said, ‘Well, 50 percent of them are here with me right now, in person, glorifying me. It’s the other two you’ve got to worry about.’” 

Sandy realized she was a 50 percenter — she’d just been focusing on the wrong 50 percent!  

Reborn in grace

As Sandy stood before her BSF class less than a year ago, sharing her story, she talked not only about losing her son and mourning her daughter. She also shared about God’s enduring faithfulness and her deliverance from guilt.  

Finally, Sandy felt free.

But her story was still not over.

As she collected her belongings, a fellow BSFer approached. 

The woman asked, “Did anyone ever tell you that a nurse picked up your son and took him to the hospital?”

Sandy recounted how the hope of David’s survival had kept her alive in those moments.

Locking eyes, the woman said, “I am that nurse.” 

For the first time, Sandy learned that 46 years ago this woman had driven by the accident and stopped to respond. She was not only a nurse, but the head of her trauma department. A bystander with a connection to the city government ordered a police escort to the hospital at the nurse’s request. David arrived at the hospital before Sandy was transported from the scene of the accident.

“God in His mercy gave my child absolutely the best care on his way to Heaven,” Sandy said. “There I was, still in the car, and my child was already being cared for.”

“I’m telling you God has given me every opportunity to be comforted. I mean He has [been there] in the strife and heartache and trouble and trial. How can anyone doubt a God who sends a police escort to the hospital?”

“God is good. He is pure good.” 

God’s goodness

Through our own suffering, we can relate to the pain of sin and death in this life. We grieve losses, experience doubt, struggle with guilt, and wonder whether God is really good after all. Even as we recount Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension in Matthew 26-28, we so often identify with the sorrow and suffering of the crucifixion and lose sight of the victory of Christ’s resurrection.

But, like Sandy, we trust that God is listening to our cries for help. In our moments of sorrow, we know the story is not complete. Will you allow God to bring you unexpected comfort today? Will you ask him to be present with you in your darkest moments?

“God is good. He is pure good.” 

Bethany Lockett

Editorial Assistant

Bethany Lockett is an editorial assistant at Bible Study Fellowship Headquarters. She is a third generation BSF-er and native Texan. She joined BSF after graduating from Wheaton College where she studied spiritual discipleship in a digital world.

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193 Comments

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Indeed, our amazing God understands our heart. He answers our questions — even tough questions or questions buried through time, lovingly and opportunely.

    P.S.
    Can I pass on this story to a friend who is not attending BSF yet? She is going though a difficult time.

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    • Yes of course! We would love for you to share the link to any of our posts. BSF blog content is for everyone. Thank you!

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  2. Thank you, Sandy, for letting us see God’s work in your life and for glorifying Him with your testimony!

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  3. Hello Bethany, I enjoyed reading your blog. Your story is so comforting & thoughtful & reassuring. I was touched by your story. Losing a child is so very painful. Your story reminded my of my husband’s co-worker (teacher) who lost her 5 year old son in a car accident 26 years ago, struggled with the grief, & finally wrote a small book to give hope for grieving parents. I found the book helpful for any of us grieving the loss of a loved one as she mentioned like you God is good, always with us. My heart aches for both of you losing a child, and admire your faith in trusting God & knowing He is always with us. I so enjoy our BSF & praying you & the staff have a good year!

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  4. Thank you for sharing this encouraging story. God is definitely good, kind and present in our times of trouble and suffering. We can depend upon Jesus to supply peace amidst the storms of our life.

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  5. Thank you so much for this.
    Praise God, for he knows exactly how to comfort parents grieving a lost child, whether they are still alive on earth or with Him. I have some lost children of my own, and, though I know I am forgiven for any part I have had in their struggles, I have to lay my guilt down at the Lord’s feet now and then. I will not allow satan to rob me of today over things I can’t change about yesterday. Today, my children have free will to choose their own path, I can pray for them every day, and God is not finished with any of us yet. He is faithful to finish the good work he began. Amen.
    I am lifting a prayer for all the parents who struggle with loss and guilt.

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  6. Sharing is caring, a phrase we often hear. When reading this I thought of how blessed we are in so many other ways! Thank you.

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  7. My name is Sandy as well and I too lost my daughter in 2005. I was in BSF at the time. I turned my back on God out of anger and hurt. I did come back thanks to prayers and support from my BSF sisters

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  8. Been struggling with guilt wondering why? Whether God actually cares, thanks for sharing

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  9. A thousand testimonies I have heard of the heart breaking encounters with the unexpected, instantaneous wreckages which send a life reeling into what feels like an endless journey of sorrow and pain. Many even speak of the long walk of trust and daily workout of building faith in God’s inscrutable sovereignty. Few have I ever heard of discovery that God has stalked the broken life of her daughter with a persistent love and drawn her to His Son forever. Few have I ever heard of the moment of personal meeting with His sovereign providence through the anonymous minister of mercy on the scene 4 decades after the crushing blow of losing a child in a collision with eternity–and to find that she is in the same BSF group 46 years later. This totally cuts me open before the Lord in worship and adoration for who He is in all His perfect, providential sovereignty over every moment in my life. God bless you for helping me see Him more clearly and trust Him more willingly in my own tears.

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    • Wow , do we serve an awsome God or what? Amazing!😲

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  10. I just thank you for sharing your heart and life! Such courage, and strength only God could give.
    I’m so amazed that the nurse who tried her to save your son, heard you tell the story, only God can do that!

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  11. Thanks for sharing the reality that only Jesus Christ can give in the most difficult of life’s circumstances!

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  12. How encouraging! We serve an awesome God! In my darkest hours He’s been there speaking words of comfort.

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  13. What an incredible account of God’s gracious mercy across decades. I was especially touched by her realization that she had been focusing on the wrong 50%! It really reveals how the perspective WE see is the backside of what God is seeing and doing.

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  14. Sandy – Thank you for sharing! I also lost a child who battled addiction. This is such a reminder of what I need to focus on! My other two children and my grandchildren. And to boldly go to His Throne on their behalf.

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  15. Wonderful story! Many things happened to us that’s devastating yet God also works for good through that experience.

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  16. Joseph was being prepared when he endured many trials. As a Christian who loves the Lord and am an active BSF Shepherd, I’ve been prepared by many trials as well. God has an individualized plan for each of us who say yes to His Lordship.

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  17. ❤️thank you for sharing your life. It helps to hear stories like this.

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  18. Beautiful story! Thank you for sharing. ❤️God is so good!

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  19. I lost my 31 year old son to a overdose from huffing Air Duster. God has shown HIMSELF to me in amazing ways this past year. Though I have what I call “tsunami waves” HE HAS been with me through each wave and every other second of my life. I still grieve, but I grieve with HOPE 💕

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  20. I’ve experienced similar circumstances as Sandy Stubbs. I must forgive myself and turn all circumstances over to the Lord and ask for His forgiveness.

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  21. Oh my….I absolutely want to be included!

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  22. I can relate to this. My grief is regarding a grandson that die in a motorcycle accident. His mother and 2 brothers came to live with us when he was 10 months old. His mother was pregnant with his younger brother. He lived with us until he moved out when he was 22 years old. He was always special. God had told me that He had special plans for him. When He died, I couldn’t understand why God told me what He did. I thank Sandy for her sharing. I know that he is worshipping the Lord, but her sharing that I need to focus on the other grandchildren. Thank you.

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    • Thank you for sharing Sandy’s story. Our God is faithful, He will never leave or forsake His children.

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  23. The story offers great encouragement. It validates for me that God is listening even when we think we are all alone. We must continue to hold on to our faith and keep trusting in God

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  24. Thank you for sharing Sandy’s story of our Good Good God! His comfort and peace are there when we ask for it!

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  25. This story was encouraging to me, as I recently experienced deep grief from the sudden loss of my brother. That said, where does the Bible say that we will see our loved ones again? I’m not sure that’s something we should indicate will happen to people who have lost loved ones because I think the only thing it promises is that we will see Jesus and that will be enough.

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    • Amen! Thank you dear sister for speaking such truth. 🙂

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  26. Wow! What a wonderful testimony. I can’t even get through part of mine without tears and unable to finish. As we entered Lent I kept asking what should I sacrifice. But I haven’t sacrificed anything that I would normally give up. But instead I am being still before God to see what he has for me to hear.
    My daughter suffered and still suffers with depression. She made it through one suicide attempt and it is through the Grace of God that I was able to help save her. Now she walks in the midst of sin, a Same Sex Relationship/Marriage.
    I pray daily for both Girls that they will see God and walk with him. My guilt has been unbearable at times but I know God has them both in his arms. I release them to him.

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  27. Oh, Sandy’s testimony is so encouraging. I hope it is permissible for me to make reference to it as I use my own double adversity testimony to restore hope to those who don’t see it. You see, my husband and I had two beautiful daughters but lost our eldest 3 months shy of her 23rd birthday after a short illness which manifested as a headache in March 2010. She quickly got into a comma for 2 months and didn’t make it! To say the three of us were devasted in an understatement. But I clung to Jesus who I already had as my Lord and Saviour. My husband who had lived with a chronic kidney failure disease (was on hemodialysis for 18 years), died 5 years later of a stroke. Nearly 11 years since the first tragedy, I have seen the hand of God upon my surviving daughter’s and my life. From her, I have a nearly 6 months old grandson. In His goodness, God has enabled me to live to see my child’s child. To Him be all the glory forever. Amen

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  28. Such a great testimony of our God who is always present and who comforts and cares for us.

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  29. Sandy, thank you so very much for sharing your story of grief and triumph! It has given me hope.

    I was invited to BSF 2 years ago and only joined a month ago after being invited again by another friend. I know the timing is right and that I was lead here by God.

    On July 14, 2020 (after being told by medical professionals about 10 yrs prior that I needed to have knee replacement surgery) I finally had a total knee replacement on my right knee after tearing my meniscus on 12/25/19. Due to complications from scar tissue and infections, 6 surgeries later I am still not able to drive or walk comfortably without stiffness. As a real estate agent, this has been devastating! I was placed on full disability in November 2021 and on 3/4/22 I was told by my physical therapist that my insurance company will no longer approve my therapy sessions. Consuming pain medications isn’t something I want to do, but with no plan for recovery, I feel I have no choice.

    Not being able to drive has not only caused an abrupt end to my real estate career, it has also taken my independence to getting to places outside of my home. I’ve cried and asked God what His plans are for my life, but I’m not able to hear or discern His response.

    Through this time, I’ve been growing closer to God and through BSF I’m spending more time in the Word. I know God has a plan however, at this time I don’t know what it is.

    I am in total agreement with Sandy when she says “God is good. He is pure good”.

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  30. This story truly encouraged me and so happy to hear this sad yet beautiful story that lifts my spirit, God is good!

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  31. I am comforted by this blog by Bethany about Sandy Stubbs. Yes, sometimes we focus on the wrong object of our prayers and hope. How gracious is our God to point us to where we should go in our grief and hopelessness. I am also encouraged to continue in praying for my family so that my family will know the freedom offered by Jesus Christ to everyone. Thank you for sharing Bethany Lockett.

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  32. Thanks for sharing!’

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  33. This was a very sad but uplifting story as Sandy with faith and hope knows that two of her children are in heaven with our Lord. Sandy, under horrible grief, chose to follow God.
    However, not all people react to the death of a child in the same way. Some question God and even turn against Him. As I walk with the Lord, and with my own tragic story to deal with, I watched a neighbor lose her 22-year-old son to an accidental intake of fentanyl. I desperately wanted to help my neighbor as she had come over to give me a magnet that says “Jesus is the best gift of all”. I said thank you and hugged the magnet. She then said I am glad you like it because I do not believe in Jesus anymore. Grief and agony can make some people turn away from the Lord.

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    • Deborah – after reading your story about your neighbor, I began to immediately pray for her. I then re-read your comments, and it struck me (with God opening my eyes), that your neighbor, in her devastation, only thinks she doesn’t believe. I am sure the unbelief feels very real to her (I might have felt the same). But the reason I think this is because she gave you the magnet. The magnet was something that could have been easily thrown away; but she didn’t. When you have opportunity, let her talk. And perhaps one day (only God knows when), you will be able to bless her by giving the magnet back.

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    • I’ve known Sandy all my life. I remember the day my mom explained to me that Little David was gone. I didn’t fully understand it.
      I love Sandy dearly, and I know she will not mind me saying she struggled for years to find this peace. Be patient with your friend. It may take years or decades to restore her heart. It has taken 46 years of good and bad days to reach this point. God never gave up on her. He will not give up on your friend.

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  34. Sandy’s story is very powerful and inspirational. It gives all of us hope and faith in our circumstances. May take away for Sandy’s story is: Regardless of what it looks like or how we may feel, trust God!

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  35. Praise His holy name!!!

    Reply

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