After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel (Judges 2:10 NIV).
Several years after the loss of our second child, I found an old Bible tucked in a cedar chest in my mom’s attic. As I flipped through the pages, I stumbled upon a crude chart of our family tree written in my mom’s flourishing hand.
Listed were the names, dates of birth, and dates of death for my maternal and paternal great-grandparents and grandparents. Next, came my parents, my brother, Stewart, then me, and then my sister, Gloria Gale. My mind stopped for a beat. My sister, Gloria Gale? Who’s that?! I never knew I had a sister named Gloria Gale.
I ran downstairs holding the opened Bible in my hand, walked over to my mom, pointed at the entry, and said, “What’s this about? Who is Gloria Gale?”
“I had a baby girl when you were two years old,” she said. “I guess you were too little to remember it. She was premature. She only lived a day.”
“Why have you never told me I had a sister?”
“That was a long time ago,” she said. “I don’t really want to talk about it.”
I was dumbstruck. Why didn’t she want to talk about it? Why didn’t she tell me? More importantly, why didn’t she share her painful story with me when I went through a similar experience of my own? The story had lain dormant, tucked between my dad’s high school letter jacket and a piece of old cross-stitch, when it could have been a story that gave me hope at a time when I needed to know life would go on.
One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Judges 2:10: “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.”
Back in the book of Exodus, God freed the Israelites from Egyptian slavery and sent them on their way to the promised land. But as we know, just because we’ve been set free doesn’t mean that we will walk free.
The first generation of slaves set free did not enter the promised land because of their ingratitude, unbelief, and disobedience. So, God waited for a second generation to rise up—a generation who would believe that God is who he says he is and will do what he says he will do.
Forty years after they first stepped foot in the wilderness, Joshua and Caleb led the people into Jericho to take possession of the land God had already given them. But first, the Israelites had to cross the Jordan River, which was at flood stage, the worst possible time to make such a trek. Nevertheless, the people decided to obey God’s command rather than acquiesce to human reason.
As soon as the priests leading the people put their feet in the water, the flow stopped twenty miles upstream and stood up in a heap. After the whole nation had crossed the river, God instructed Joshua to have twelve men gather twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan. Once they were on the other side of the river, the stones became a monument to help the people remember what God had done. Joshua said to the people:
“In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:6-7)
The Israelites obeyed to a point. Yes, they gathered the rocks. Yes, they set up a memorial. But, no, they did not tell their story. It stopped with that generation. The Bible tells us, “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).
Why didn’t the next generation know the story? Because their parents didn’t tell them. They didn’t pass on the stories of how God brought them out of Egypt, through the Jordan, and into the promised land. Their stories died with them. The next generation had no idea.
Oh, friend, your story matters. It matters to the people God brings across your path, and to the generations that follow. Don’t hide your story, no matter how sordid it may be. Nothing is ever wasted as long as we don’t keep it to ourselves. People need to know how God brought you through your own personal Jordan River and onto the other side. Your story may be just the thing God uses to help someone get through theirs.
Lord, thank You for getting me through the tough seasons of my life. I pray that You will show me who needs to hear my story and give me the courage to tell it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What are some of the “rocks” in your life…symbols of how God got you through a difficult situation? You might want to consider gathering a few rocks as symbols to remind you of the victories and then be ready to share when someone asks you what those rocks mean.
What if your worst chapters could become your greatest victories? I know that they can!
Many of us feel broken. Our mistakes, the pain others have caused us, and circumstances outside our control taunt us every day, though we long to turn a new page. My new book, When You Don’t Like Your Story, challenges us to ask: What if God doesn’t want us to rip out our difficult stories but repurpose them for good?
What has been done to you and what has been done through you does not disqualify you from God’s best for your life. It qualifies you for an even greater purpose than you would have ever known without it. In fact, the worst parts of your story might just be what God uses the most. So sink deep into God’s life-changing truths. The next chapter is just beginning. Includes an in-depth Bible study for individuals and groups.
© 2021 by Sharon Jaynes. All rights reserved.
I am 48 years old. Currently finding the courage to write down my story. I just don’t know who to tell it to.
God has given you your story and He knows who else needs to hear it. Each time you sit down to write, take a few moments to pray before you begin writing. During that time, give your story back to God, pray for those who need to hear your story, and ask God to help you write it. As you write, He will guide you.
Janean…good for you! The beauty will be the continued healing that Jesus brings into your travailing heart as you write your story. The Lord will reveal to you who to share it with…sometimes it’ll be part of it and other times it’ll be all of it and God gets the glory and your free to walk completely trusting in His love, grace and provision. God bless you! 💖
You can tell me. I’ll tell you mine.
Jenean, I would love to hear your story!
God always brings people into our lives that need our story told to them. We just have to listen and ask God for the courage and wisdom to speak when the opportunity rises. Always good to ask God daily what He has for us to do daily and Lord may we be faithful and do it! ❤
Thank you sooo much for this piece. I have ✍ writings of my broken marriage entitled “Bruised but Healed”..sitting for years now. This piece has now fired me up to make a book out of this, I am positive it will help someone to believe that we can rise from the rubble!
My biggest drawback is that I cannot find the soft copy and it is gonna take a lot of work to retype, but with God’s help I will.
Take your time God will release it in due time…..the world needs it put it out.
God will work through you to bring that story to life. Many will be healed and lives transformed in Jesus name
Thank you for reminding me that my hard times or rocks were there for a Good reason!
I will encourage my son about all of God promises and what he has done and he is still able to do even now for us all.
We most remember all his promises and speak them to others always.
Father God thank you for my story my I never let fear stop me from telling how you brought me through my seasons of lack, disappointment, and shame. Thank you God in Jesus name. Amen.
I really wonder if telling my story will be good for my girls or will it put their father in a bad light?
Hi It depends on their age and if You tell it with Love. meaning You already spoke with a therapist and got all the bad feelings out of your system then you are telling it as an outsider looking in and not judging because You can be in a bad light because You chose him so have grace and Mercy toward You first.
Thank you for allowing God to use you to share this devotional. Holy Ghost help me be a witness to how has deliver and still delivering me.
I can build a wall with all the rocks. Help me know what, when and to whom I should share my story with. I have a journal as to not forget any of the hard times I’ve been through!
Isaiah 45:2&3 I would not ever want to go through some of the difficult times I have; but I would not trade what the Lord did in my life and taught me in those times. Praise HIM for HIS faithfulness!
Did your mother ever get up the courage to talk about your sister? I think women are more open to talk about those things now. Healing can come with conversations. Our daughters (both in their 30’s) know we lost our first baby, but it has not been talked about a lot.
This story reminded me of a similar experience I had.
I went through severe postpartum depression after the birth of our first daughter. After my Mom’s death my Dad mentioned that his cousin’s (and best friend) wife had been hospitalized after their first son was born because she was so depressed. I was so surprised to hear this and wished that my parents would have shared that story with me to give me hope when I was experiencing that pain.
I am working on writing my memoir to share some of my stories along life’s journey with my family. Hopefully it can be an encouragement.
Oh, how I love Jesus!! Thank you for sharing this with us! I haven’t heard it from this perspective before, so true and I love how God is so patient!! My story is one of deep brokenness but also a truly redemptive one because of Jesus healing me at the core of my heart! Sometimes the healing came as I poured out my pain to Him with tears and afterward, I sat surrounded by a palpable warmth and deep peace that only Jesus gives. His forgiveness for my sins that brought so many heartaches into my life continues to blow me away and blesses me each day! I had an abortion years ago thinking that I was doing the baby a favor because I was so messed up! When I went through a post-abortion Bible study, I realized that what I did was kill a baby but was told that it was a “blob of tissue” when she was truly a fetus; “little one”, in my womb!! I was ignorant. I learned the truth, confessed it, forgave the perpetrators and myself by the grace of God! I could go on.. There’s nothing we have done or not done that God’s grace and forgiveness can’t cover! Jesus said, “it is finished”! His blood covers ALL sin when we confess to Him and we walk in freedom!! Praise God! Blessings to you!! 💖😊🥀
This story reminds me my past,I knew how painful it was being betrayed,I felt like I was “HOSIAH” played the rules everytime….But through those experienced God uses them as a “KEY” to draw me closer to him even more…God show me how faithful his love for me,and in my ups and down he is with me.
Thank you so much for sharing your story to us you gives us courage to trust God continually…God blessed you…
I went to Shanghai China on a scholarship against my will. My heart was set in going to Hawaii Pacific University in Oahu, Hawaii but my parents thought China was the biggest thing especially when everything was paid for. I cried with disappointment when I saw the room I was to stay in for one night waiting for my dorm room to be available. It looked like a dungeon and so far away compared to the nice rooms I would see in the Hawaii Pacific University Brochures. It was cultural shock for me. Anyways I had nightmares the first few nights yet my parents were indignant that I go to school in China. I was fresh out of High School and very naive. I went home for the summer and cried to my parents not to go back but the were like statues. So, I went back to China despite the fact that I was very depressed and sad. Then after a few months I totally flipped out. I started hallucinating and couldn’t sleep at night. I would cry in class. It was so weird. Everyone knew I was crying but ignored me. I was totally scared and thought the world was upside down and I was left behind, that everyone were in Heaven part of the rapture. I’m just glad I was still a virgin. My friends helped me call my house in Micronesia but the answering machine was on and I thought my family all died. I was crying like someone just died. Then my roommate called her parents and told them my situation. Somehow my uncle who worked at FSM Telecommunications heard everything and got in touch with my parents. My parents boarded the next available flight to come to Guam and then Philippines Hong Kong and Shanghai China. I was surprised they got their visas done in one day. It seemed weird because they called me every place they arrived to me it was like all in one day when it actually takes close to 3 days to come to China through those routes. But I was glad I saw them. But a little suspicious.. I came to Pohnpei after a very weird flight. I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. I was in denial but I accepted it so that I stayed normal and not go into a relapse. In a way I thank God for having the illness because it made me surrender to Him and made me realize that He is the Great I Am and God that loves unconditionally.. Before I wanted to accept Him as my Lord and Savior but Christianity was portrayed as boring and Holy. I wanted to see the world. And when i finally realized I should have gone to Him sooner I thought He was saying I told you so even though my SDA teachers say that God would never do that. But I was on the spot but thought I had to clean myself up and then come to Jesus. I learned later that we can come to Jesus as we are. I love Jacqui Velasquez song that says come as you are don’t change a thing. If I hadn’t gotten sick I wouldn’t become a Christian.. Christianity is so beautiful I just love it.
Very interesting, thanks for this reminder sometimes other people’s story reminds me where I’m at.