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After terrible, difficult time, trust in God returned

Where is God when life isn’t fair?

Tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday. I’d like to buy her a new outfit and bake her a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting.

But I haven’t seen Kristal since she was 16 – and that was 1986.

Parents are supposed to outlive their children, right? Isn’t that part of God’s plan? Had God made a mistake?

Kristal lost her fight with leukemia after two miserable years. She was courageous in ways I never imagined. Three times, she endured chemotherapy and its ugly side effects. When she returned to school after a long absence, she was the only bald girl in her junior class.

The morning after Kristal died, I didn’t want to get up. Didn’t understand why the sun had come up and the birds were still singing. Hadn’t they noticed that the world had changed? My beloved daughter was no longer here.

I might have stayed in bed for a month if my first-grader hadn’t had to go to school. But life went on – for Jeff and everyone else.

I argued with God. Told Him it wasn’t fair. Why hadn’t He taken me instead? Yelled nasty things. Went through life in a haze.

After a while my dad insisted that my son and I get out of our routine, so we packed up his motor home and headed for the Olympic Peninsula. Hiking through old growth forests, a park ranger challenged our tour group to hold hands and try to encircle the trunk of a 600-year-old tree. It was so enormous that even 20 of us couldn’t reach around it.

The next day we arrived at Kalaloch, a flat, gray beach the size of two football fields. Driftwood littered the surface. I sat on a log while Jeff built a fort.

Watching the sun retire into the Pacific, I heard from God. Not out loud – it was just a silent voice that sounded a bit like my conscience.

“See those waves rolling in?” the voice said.

“Beautiful,” I thought. “Not very big, but powerful and perfectly timed.”

“I’ve sent them in to this beach since the beginning of time. No one ever saw the first one and no one will see the last one, but I’ll continue to send them.”

I realized that God was showing me a picture of His faithfulness. The same God who’d spent eternity sending in waves and caring for those trees, was taking care of me.

Compared to the beauty all around me, I felt insignificant, unworthy and self-centered. God obviously had WAY more to take care of than me.

Had I thanked Him for the 80 percent of my life that had been good? If I don’t give Him credit for the wonderful things in my life, it doesn’t seem fair to blame Him for the bad things. Shouldn’t the Creator of the world best know how to run it?

Even before Kristal got sick, God had never been too busy to listen – at noon or 4 a.m. He was always there.

During Kristal’s illness, He’d sent friends to deliver meals, weed my garden and stand by me when I couldn’t stand alone. He’d sent strangers to help pay hospital bills.

Best of all, He’d given Kristal a faith stronger than mine. With every molecule within her, she knew she was going to heaven and couldn’t wait to meet Jesus.

As Jeff and I climbed back up from the beach that day, I was finally at peace. Although I’ll always miss my daughter, I’d learned that I can trust God – even on the most difficult days.

So can you.

Before she married Larry Carroll of Spokane Valley, Shirley Walston spent nine years as a missionary. She has worked as a journalist and editor since 1990. This story comes from her book “Kristal’s Wedding” (BookSurge Publishing, 2009). Contact her at