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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198 Comments

  1. This blog gave me so much comfort today. Although I am dealing with a different kind of guilt dealing with handling my parents’ dementia, I am experiencing the same sense of Gods comfort and grace in my life.

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  2. It is great to read that God is with our children who passed on and honestly they are better off there than what they would be here with us. What I considered a loss was a gain for my child. And for me.Thank you.

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  3. Sandy, I want to thank you for your testimony, it was beautiful and it touched my heart immensely.
    I lost my granddaughter a year ago on Memorial weekend, due to drugs and alcohol. I have lived with guilt that I couldn’t help her more. I tried so hard for many years. I wished that I could of saved her. I still struggle with that guilt at times. She had a son, and he is a split image of his mom. I know one day that I will see her again in Heaven. God is so Good!!! All the time.
    Then I lost my favorite Aunt on Labor Day weekend. In between there several cousins. I went into a spiral of deep depression. Again God reached down and grabbed me, and wrapped His tender arms around me and rescued me from that ugly pit. I’m alive again!! Thank you Lord for all that you do in the mist of it all. I’ve learned too rely on His Goodness, Mercy, and Grace not mine.

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  4. Re- reading this testimony is such an encouragement that God’s grace is always sufficient even in the most challenging seasons in our lives.
    I will use Sandy’s testimony to encourage a group member whose son went to be with the Lord as we were getting to the end of the study. May we all be encouraged whatever the circumstances, God is ever present in times of need!

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  5. What a beautiful cross story. Thank you.

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  6. I was saved as a result of Little David’s death. A friend had been trying to get me to go to church with her and I resisted. Little David was my daughter’s age and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her. I went to church with the friend and heard the gospel for the first time. I didn’t know that Jesus had died to take my sins away. God used this tragedy to reach me, to his glory. Thank you Lord!

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  7. I loved this it was so encouraging and I agree that God is good pure good!

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  8. What an amazing display of God’s grace, and mercy!!

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  9. After losing three brothers in 22 months I’ve struggled with grief and anguish and unanswered questions. Four hours after I got the message of my youngest brother’s illness, he was gone. Didn’t even talk to him. Thanks for sharing the comfort the comfort that God gives Sandy.

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  10. Thank you Sandy for sharing your story. I lost my Mom 6 months ago and My daughter last week. Your story has encouraged me to have hope of meeting them again in heaven

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  11. He’s in it all…even the hard we cannot begin to understand. What a amazing, beautiful story of God’s love and mercy. Thank you Sandy for sharing your story.

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  12. Wow!!!!!!!!!TANKS to every commenter , the reporter and Sandy – To God be the glory – He is GOOD!!!!! toooooooo good to be true and that for evermore. WOOWW!!!!

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  13. To Bethany,

    Just read Sandy’s story. It was so moving. Thank you for the work you do. I love you and I am so proud of your work. God bless you dear granddaughter. Grandma Garver

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  14. This story has encouraged me soo much, some time last year i was asking, can a cancer Patient say”God is good?,all the time.?My sister in law who is younger Than me had gotten that diagnosis. It’s now 2 years and thank God she is alive and better,but 3 others of my friends,have gone to be with the Lord.
    Yes God is good, allthe time, and all the time God is good,and that’s His nature.Wow, that’s a greeting in Churches here in Uganda.

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  15. My daughter died in 2018 from ovarian cancer. My brother followed 2 weeks later from pancreatic cancer. I honestly didn’t think i would survive the immense pain and anger I felt during that time. I know they are in Heaven worshiping the Savior but there are still times I am overwhelmed. God’s grace is walking me slowly and I’m more peace filled than I’ve ever been. God IS good, pure, through and through good. Thanks for this story!”Ginger

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  16. Thank you so much Sandy for sharing your journey. Although you felt said you felt like a 50 per center at times, you spoke of how God who is 100 percent (and more). I have never read the BSF blog before and your story touched me so much.Thank you for telling His story in your story!!!

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  17. What a wonderful example of our Lord’s work in comforting you, Sandy. At unexpected times following these tragedies in your life! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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  18. Thank you for sharing the story. God transforms our heart by extreme events. It depends on how stubborn the heart is. But on the bright side, this life is short, once the heart has been transformed, we will be with God forever. So it all worths it!

    May God’s will be done! May God’s plan for you be fulfilled!

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  19. What a clear message that God is everywhere caring for us. I am grateful for my life as a Christian woman since I can remember, I now know again the mercy God has for us. I am blessed.

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  20. Thank you for sharing. Our testimonies are just as much for us as others.

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    • Thank you for sharing ❤️. Some times it seems God is not there but the truth is that the plans he has for us are for good. God is forever faithful.

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  21. Thank you for sharing Sandy’s story. We may never know how many lives God has used Sandy’s story to touch. Experiencing a different kind of loss and trusting God for the outcome he has ordained. To God be the glory!

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  22. Thank you for sharing your story. May God continue to bless you as you continue to serve Him.

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  23. Awesome testimony!

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  24. Finding this blog came at the right time. We have had a tragedy in our church family, losing a 14 yr old due to a shooting accident.

    This accident has me thinking, “Would I be able to grab Gid tighter and lean in to Him deeper if this happened to my immediate family? I would hope so, yet in all honesty, I don’t want to know.

    It gets me thinking about my adult children how 2 of them are seriously angry, and what will it take for our God to reach them and bring them closer to him, and will it be before their children are affected? That is a frightening thought. Yet, Sandy’s words from God that 50% of her children are worshiping Him is comforting, in some way.

    I don’t know why I am sharing any of this except maybe because the pain of life is so uncomfortable, and maybe that is why I don’t want to consider what God’s perfect will might be for my children. And yet, I do believe that He alone is good all of the time. I just don’t understand his ways of goodness.

    Thanks for sharing Sandy’s story.

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  25. Thank you Sandy! It’s a timely encouragement from our Lord. Praise the Lord for He knows each of us and our needs!

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  26. What an “Awesome” testimony!!! Thank you for sharing it with me!!!

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  27. Wow, that was so encouraging. A different perspective for sure, the 50 percenter, focusing on the wrong 50%.
    Food for thought. And a verse that drew me into BSF was “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceededth out of the mouth of God”

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  28. I can relate to the loss of a child. He is with the Lord. I know how it feels to miss them.

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  29. Thank you for this article. My beloved daughter lost her battle with Bi-polar depression last year. I also lost an infant son 36yrs ago. I have been struggling with grief, loss and a sense of failure as a parent.

    BSF has been a stronghold in my life. The study prayer and support of my classmates is priceless. God is good, his love is real.

    Reply
  30. Sandy’s story comforted me tremendously because I’m driven by guilt for more than 25 years that I didn’t leave my job to look after my son when he was young. At that time, I’ve treated earning a living as very important. But now, I deeply regret it but I can’t save my son from a lie that he bought from Satan that he can’t help who he is. He was abused when he was a teenager by predator men as he was very good looking. I was totally not aware of it at that time. May the Lord forgive me for not doing my job as a Christian mother. I’m praying for him everyday that my prodigal son will return back to God and abandon his current lifestyle. please pray for my son, C.

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    • Ivy, praying alongside you. The Lord sees your heart and hears your cries. You and C are deeply and dearly loved. You are not alone! We are praying with you!

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    • The Lord is hearing your prayer,release the guilt to Jesus, He took it on the cross.It’s paid for.Your son is in His hand. He will bring him back to you.

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  31. An amazing story- thanks for sharing it. I wish I had known Sandy 10 yrs ago when my Mom died. I was so angry, resentful, sad (cried everyday) I missed her so much (how could God take her without giving me warning – was my question) We were so close. It took me 4 yrs to be able to talk about her and now after 12 years I faced the anniversary of her death with joy -remembering how blessed I was to have had her as my Mom.

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  32. thank you for sharing! These struggles are real and painful in life yet our God is greater than them. I am sorry for what you have gone through and you are a tough mama having the Lord by our side is the only way and best way to get through life. hallelujah what he’s done for us giving us eternal life with him!

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  33. When I read this story, my first thought was well..”i don’t even have a child and never was I ever able to have one..” Yes, that’s ugly thoughts…. But God…. God sent me a son in whom God said… ” in still in him, Me..” I thank God for being compassionate to me and understanding and I thank you for sharing your story. Staying in BSF has helped me along my journey in all of my weaknesses and strengths. Staying positive along the way and remembering all of our small blessings that He still provides is refreshing!

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  34. This is an amazing story and I’m thankful to My Debbie for sharing it with me. Myself I have been through Loss of Life that I still blame myself for. This story and words are encouraging to me. Feeling that I’m not giving God my all just looking at the 50 percent. My that change today as I remind myself of this story from now on. Amen 🙏

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  35. This testimony has really encauraged me as I am nursing my sick father. To know that God is good and pure is the truth that has strengthened me.

    Reply

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