Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Sister In Need

Posted by Christine Pack and Cathy Mathews
"Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." (Psalm 68:4-5) 
"When you go through deep waters, I will be with you." (Isaiah 43:2)
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress......" (James 1:27)
Two nights ago, the phone rang at 10:30. Not the latest we've ever gotten a phone call.....but definitely later than most calls. As I picked it up, I turned to my husband and half jokingly said, "I hope this isn't bad news." But it was. My sister was on the other end, weeping. She told me that the young husband of a friend of ours had unexpectedly passed away due to complications from diabetes. The husband's name was Toby, and he was only 36 years old. Toby's wife, Amanda, was now a widow with 4 young children.

Toby Youngblood had met, fallen in love with, and married a young, single mother named Amanda. Toby and Amanda only had 5 short years together before his sudden death. Toby was a loving stepfather to Amanda's daughter from her previous marriage, and then in short order, God had blessed them with first one son (now 4 years old) and then twin boys (who are now 2 years old). Toby was a hardworking and devoted husband and father, but had recently lost his job, and so the young family was struggling. They did not have health insurance, and Toby was mowing lawns on weekends to make ends meet. (Click here or at the Go Fund site linked to learn how to donate to this family in great need.)

Cathy Mathews, who writes here on the Sola Sisters blog with me, was and is extremely close to Amanda. They met through church in Arkansas (where they both live) six years ago, and quickly became close. My sister has been like a big sister/mother to her.....she's not quite old enough to be Amanda's mother, but they have had a very nurturing, mother/daughter type relationship.

Cathy and I both knew Amanda before she was saved, back when she was struggling spiritually and had lots and lots and lots of questions. Did I mention that she had lots of questions? Oh my, yes! I was the out-of-towner, and only saw Amanda occasionally, when visiting, and on a few vacations that we all took together. But on those visits and vacations, I remember several late night conversations with me, Cathy and Amanda, sitting up into the wee hours, fiercely and passionately discussing God, theology, truth, doctrine, and the excellencies of Christ. By that time, Amanda had experienced many losses in her young life. About 10 years prior, two of her brothers had been killed in a traffic accident while on the way to theirs and Amanda's other brother's wedding. Her stepfather had died 7 years prior. Amanda had been through a difficult divorce and was raising her daughter as a single parent. Surely, a recipe for bitterness and despair? And yet, through it all, God saw fit to gently and mercifully, as a loving Father, bring Amanda through those losses into saving faith in Christ's sacrifice. I've had the privilege of watching—at times up close, at times from afar—as Amanda went from being kind of a tough girl, lost and confused, to being very strongly rooted and grounded in God's word. My heart is quite simply broken for her in this loss.

And yet, as Cathy pointed out to me yesterday, Amanda was blessed by God to be married to a man such as Toby. Toby was also deeply rooted in God's word and truth, and had the habit of dwelling on, and pointing others to, God's sovereignty. Toby would be telling Amanda even now, "Trust God, even when the circumstances don't look good to us." We ask you to join us in praying that for Amanda. We also ask for the following prayers:
⋄ Please pray for her and her children 
⋄ Pray she will trust The Lord for the next step in front of her 
⋄ Pray for God to protect her against bitterness 
⋄ Pray she will put on her armor and stand strong 
⋄ Please pray for financial provision 
⋄ Please pray she will feel assured of God's love & care for her through the Body of Christ 
⋄ Please for the tiny church (about 30 total) where Amanda's and Cathy's families are members, that they will minister to her well 
Body of Christ, this where the rubber meets the road. I'm asking all who are reading this to prayerfully consider making a donation to this young widow in need. For those who would like to make a donation to the Youngblood family, any contribution, no matter how small, would be greatly appreciated. The financial need in this family right now is profound.

In closing, I want to share two of Amanda's recent Facebook posts. Through tears, I have been astonished and humbled while reading these to see Amanda praising the Lord for his goodness in these circumstances. These posts have been profoundly encouraging to me. I have also been updated by my sister about how their tiny church has hastened to come along this dear sister of theirs, and help her bear her burden. To any lost people reading this, THIS kind of supernatural kindness and peace is what the Lord offers through the atoning work done by Christ.......peace in the most difficult of circumstances, peace in the most painful of trials, but most of all, all of it meant to point us to the goodness of God, who not only makes a way for sinners to be reconciled to Him, but who also bears our burdens with us, hears our prayers, and promises that one day He will wipe every tear from our eyes.

This is what Amanda wrote on April 8 (the day after Toby died):
Dear friends from near and far:  As some of you surely have heard, I need to confirm, I woke up this morning to find my sweet husband Toby Youngblood had passed away during the night in his sleep, due to diabetes complications. It was VERY unexpected heart is breaking, and I know you precious believers in Christ, many of whom I've never met, will be covering me and my 4 kids and extended family in your prayers. So thank you, so much, in advance. I also know you who are believers will be able to rejoice with me, as we know for sure, without a doubt, that toby is diabetes free now, but MOST importantly, he's sin free and basking in the beautiful presence and glory of our Savior since sometime during the night...and for that, I'm jealous! Please feel free to keep reminding me of this in the coming days and weeks. And if you're reading this and have no idea what I'm talking about, how I can know FOR SURE where he is and what he's doing, I'd love to personally explain it to you. And how, even in this, I CAN say, God is so good, beyond gracious, and has carried me through this horrific day. I pray YOU know this most gracious, abounding in mercy God like Toby did here, and is getting the full realization of at this moment!
And then on April 9:
Dear friends and family, first let me say, it has ONLY been by all your prayers lifted up on my family's behalf today that we can say, the day is over, we got through it. I'm being blown away seeing the precious body of Christ, from near and far, doing so wonderfully what we're called to do, bear each other's burdens, walk with each other through immense pain, provide sacrificially and abundantly to meet each other's needs. God IS being glorified. And many people will see God's church at work, ministering to my family, and He will be even more glorified! And just think...Toby gets a front row seat to that glory! I'm a bit jealous!
May God be glorified as onlookers watch Amanda in this trial, and witness a peace that can only be attributed to a supernatural work of God. To God be all the glory.