It was 3:30 in the morning, when I received the call that changed everything. “Jennifer, you need to get out of the house. Your neighborhood is flooding,” my friend sobbed hysterically. Unsure if I was dreaming, I stumbled from my bed, down the hall, and out my front door. Stunned, I discovered hundreds of neighbors standing in their driveways and lawns, staring with the same awe that I was. We didn’t live near a body of water. We weren’t supposed to be affected by flood waters. The area had not flooded in over 1,000 years. Yet, flood waters were pouring into my neighborhood, more quickly than I can even describe. As if we lived in a bathtub and the faucet had just been turned on full-strength, we watched the waters rise. I ran inside, awoke my family, and grabbed a suitcase. Within 20 minutes, we were loaded in the car and fleeing the scene. It took only a matter of hours for the Great Louisiana Flood of 2016 to overtake my home last August and wash away virtually everything I owned – baby pictures, wedding albums, my children’s first letters, everything.
“This isn’t supposed to happen. I’ve been faithful, God. I’ve dedicated my life to your service. And I’ve been homeless before. I don’t need a reminder about how hard that is! How can we go on? How can we rebuild?”I thought.
The days that followed left me disoriented, confused, speechless, sleepless, and exhausted, as I scrambled to make sense of the horror that was now my reality. In the weeks that followed, I coped. I’d love to tell you I did more. I’d love to tell you I thrived and had some supernatural God experience in those days, but I merely survived. We worked 18-hour days ripping sheetrock from the walls and dragging every wet, soggy, and soiled piece of furniture from our home. And I cried, a lot. I worked myself to exhaustion, fell to the floor and cried, then worked myself to exhaustion some more. It was hard, very hard.
Nine months later, we are now back into our newly-refurbished home, managing daily to restock the shelves and establish normalcy. The road has been hard, but I’m on the other side of this tragedy and I’ve thought more and more about what we do when we lose everything. What do we do when a fire takes our earthly possessions? What do we do when we lose a loved one? What do we do when we lose our marriage? Our job? Our financial security? Our ministry position? Our health? The relationship with the one we thought we’d marry?
I’m not a stranger to losing everything. My parents, grandparents, and most of my extended family were dead by the time I was 21-years-old. I’ve been a homeless single mom with no money, no friends, and no hope. I’ve been beaten and abused more times than I can count. I’ve had no food and eaten Ramen noodles 5 times a week, just to feed my kids. I’ve chased a relationship that I never should’ve been in; just hoping someone would want me. I’ve huddled on the bathroom floor, certain no one saw me and no one cared. I contemplated suicide.
There is someone reading this who is there, right now. You have lost everything, you feel you can’t go on, you are certain no one sees you. I’m writing this for you, today. I’m writing to tell you some important things for you to know when you lose everything.
You haven’t lost everything. It may seem like it, today. It may seem like the dark cloud has followed you way too long. Maybe you’ve lost a great deal in a short period of time. Maybe you’ve lost your job and your health is failing, and your mom just died. I don’t know what your loss looks like today and I wouldn’t dare minimize it. Take your time to grieve the loss. Take your time; let time heal the wounds of the loss. But please know: you haven’t lost everything. God is with you. As a born again child of the King, your salvation isn’t lost. Your future beyond this earth is secure.
It doesn’t matter how you feel today. It doesn’t matter if you can’t feel God’s presence. Feelings are temporal and fleeting. What is true is that He is with you. Satan would like nothing more than to convince you otherwise. He wants to convince you that it’s all over. You’ll never recover. You can’t make it past this. No one cares. They are better off without you. They’ll never forget how you’ve messed up. There are thousands of lies that Satan will whisper in your ear. But that’s just it. They are lies - lies from the pit of Hell, designed strategically to hold you down, destroy you, steal you your hope, and kill the joy of your future. Do not stand for it.
You have been given the authority to stand firm against the lies of the enemy. You have the authority to cast down his plans of attack against you. Know that you are God’s beloved. He sees you. He loves you. You are not alone.
I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, 'You are my servant.' For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Isaiah 41:9
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Jennifer Maggio is a wife, mom, founder of the national nonprofit, The Life of a Single Mom. The author of four books, her passion is empowering single parents and hurting women to live in complete freedom that only Christ offers. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com.