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Seeing Suffering Through God's Eyes (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 9, 2022 5:00 am

Seeing Suffering Through God's Eyes (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 9, 2022 5:00 am

Levi & Jennie Lusko share the tragic story of the unexpected death of their 5-year-old daughter, Lenya, and how God worked through their family in the aftermath. The Luskos maintained their ministry obligations, sharing the Gospel at their church after Lenya’s death, which led many to the Lord. (Part 1 of 2)

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Someone observed the hardest thing I have ever had here was that my child died.

The hardest thing I've ever done is to live every day since that moment today on Focus on the Family hearing about one couple's journey through that long dark belly of Lawson. Now they discovered God's light is a race in the midst of their pain and sorrow.

Thanks for joining us today your hostess focus president Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John John. Today we have Levi and Jenny, let's go with this and I'm looking for the program. I think when you have experience pain. You know the benefit of pain and that's why I'm excited not.

The pain is good to go through but man it has so many good benefits for us. For example, that humbles your spirit that's a good thing and you know the Scripture tells us that suffering produces good things in us and it's not something you hear much about in the church today, yet it's court of the gospel and what Jesus was trying to tell us so I think although it may be rough. This is what puts people back in the church seats right suffering being good. This will be 1.01 kick back and soak it in and Levi and Jenny Lesko are the founders and we pastors of fresh life church.

It's a multisite ministry based in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon and Utah. Each written a book and really talking about both of them along the way here but Jenny's is the fight to flourish, engaging in the struggle to cultivate the life you were born to live in Levi's book is through the eyes of a lion facing impossible pain finding incredible power stop by the episode notes and you'll find the links about these great resources Levi, Jenny, thank you again for your willingness to come and open up. I mean, it's one of the most difficult things to always repeat one of the most difficult episodes of your life. But I know you do with the heart to help others. I'm already tearing up.

This is good, but I just really appreciate you being here.

Thank you, thank you so much for having thanks for out of the privilege. So let me take you to a moment in your marriage was fairly early on when you had this crisis of vocation. Maybe if I can call it that the vocation of location, your successful pastors are jealous over here as ever, but then they were stripped away your pastor in California you're thriving there. You're very successful and you bump into somebody uses a model and think about coming to Montana or Idaho, what with Montana and yet we felt like California made sense for us in all our lives. I ducked the Colorado race to New Mexico Jenny from California. We ended up in orange county and we were just a mile away from the beach. You know couple thousand people in the church we are teaching at felt like it all. All roads had led to that moment. Season passes to Disneyland units where God wanted you just felt right. Honestly, and at that point there came this incredible ridiculous idea go to Montana. Started church now were not ranchers you know I don't like Kevin Costner. He nodded it doesn't did make sense to us and yet we couldn't unit feet when you know God speaking to you almost irritate you because he does know he is almost wish you could pretend you didn't hear, and we felt like needed to move to Montana and started church which didn't make sense. Let me ask you Jenny because I think every mom is going to lean in on this unit at this point, your business could be. You've got four daughters on six or younger, and so II think on behalf of the moms.

How did you do that we had everything juggling you had four daughters, six or younger. What was that like yeah that's crazy and just do what you need to do to survive in the lake and just do it. I think sometimes we are now tired. But when the planet fast life we had when our oldest daughter, Lenny and Sheila's mine in half and then when after we moved in January, which is needed now was the coldest month in Montana literally lived from 70 County more vivid is 74 in South Orange County said 14 40 below zero good day on and on that week that we moved to Montana and I was pregnant with our second daughter and so that was crazy, but I think just having a lot of kids in a small period of time when you're planning on waiting five years to have kids after he got married and I got pregnant within the first eight months and plans his way, excessive taking birth control he got taken at the same time every day for it to be effective, and I will say it was a part of our church growth strategy Montana part to grow to the kingdom that is so good I want to get into that because your second daughter is the core the story tell us about her and what linear was like she was born the year that fast.

Life was born. Cell every year with kind of the milestones of where she was that my trip is at the top of their age and she was born with a full head of hair like we were just as surprised as Olivia was born like all old man that Lenny is going with this. This domain here and we named her Lang.

After Levi's godmother and and that we didn't know that it means lion interaction not just perfectly arrived. Her personality, her wildness, her rebel I see very spirited yes, describe force, then I think it was five days before Christmas in 2012 when tragedy struck your family. What were the details what was happening. What took place cell five days before Christmas is always wild and crazy, probably for anybody that we were getting ready for our church Christmas Eve services and Levi was standing there on his message. We're just wrapping presents getting the girls had a birthday party they're going to so we went to the movie and said that whole day was just kind of normal December 20 getting ready to land and then so at that time Olivia sat then and then our youngest Clover weather even one yet. So is just all the craziness to yeah and so that night we had a date night and Thursday nights generally throughout our marriage have been date nights where it's just him and I and said that night we were stay home that night.

My mom is watching the kids and I was wrapping presents and Levi was watching home alone watching think gets better multitask wrapping gifts that the love language of mine by so we went last to go pick up the kids from my mom's house and literally as we drove that Levi took my hand and just like I just feel so relaxed right now and that's a big thing for lead I can finish my message that it which is right. Once the message is to relax right going into what we would we called Friday family day like every Friday to take as a family we would just have a day and we are planning a special dinner and a fancy restaurant cloth napkins we build it is our big family Christmas day Friday and for Levi to say and so relaxed right now is a big deal because his mind already welling, always thinking of the next thing but for him to say okay now I'm ready to just relax my messages down and now we can enjoy these grandly daily heads drug in the driveway that you walked in so my brother runs out and says it needs you and so I ran and my mom Lenny had asthma Olivia oldest has asthma.

Levi has asthma.

It's kind of a normal thing in our life to have inhalers and albuterol and nebulizer and everything that she wasn't taking her medicine that night and my mom walking and sitting on the counter in my mom's trying to get her on the nebulizer, but she just wasn't taking it in style. She turns pale and just passes out on the kitchen counter. Levi friends and you just parked the car.

He runs in and just immediately he said that in these situations just starts like doing what he had learned of CPR and mouth-to-mouth then and I'm just like all the sudden realizing okay this is this is a bad as and I am praying and be okay to be okay and become I'm online and it's winter in Montana.

It's summer 20 so the roads are icy and it's snowing outside and it's so the paramedics finally come and and come in, take them to the hospital and I just felt this cold feeling like this is not happening.

And this is not good and well, I can just feel the grimness of their faces. I think when they're working that I had asked them while they were working on us a dish of a harpy to shoot the harpy and they said not right now and so she was coded nonresponsive in the house.

That's when pumps like science. She was going to be with Jesus the hospital they take her to the room and they're working on it were, were in the waiting room now and they come and the doctor comes in into the waiting room and his people behind him and he comes to get us and were like waiting for news like she's fine to see her and he says I'm so sorry I'm so sorry and he says there's nothing more we can do.

Do you want to come in and be there when we turn the machines off and we just kind of push past seven we go in there and you know she's all hooked up looks so peaceful and we just begin praying the you know the God who made the sun stand still give Jarvis his daughter back to raise Lazarus from the dead, the God who brought Jesus out of the grave that he would give her life back.

Give us more time to learn you know he got an answer that prayer.

And so we both take her hands. Each of us and we, the first thing that came to my mind was her baby dedication know we had stood on the stage of our church and dedicated her to God saying she's not ours. She's yours and so the only words iconic came back to me where it was. We said she was yours when you gave her to us and so now is you taken her to be with you. We give her back to you and we we use Job's words and we said, blessed be the name of the Lord there and I a supernatural sense of God's presence was in that room that night and we just felt like there was a sense in which she was with Jesus and he was there with us and in us and so is awful is how was it was gonna be okay.

You know my mind is its role in here because of trying to put myself in your place.

We haven't gone through this experience. My brother and his wife, the loss of my nephew and it's hard to really understand what that would be like does make me teary just to think about it, but the what if's. I should. How did you manage that in the hours afterward.

The days afterward that the Lord's peace cover that territory to DEFINITELY something happening. I think as parents we just think I should have known I let anything I think even just one my mom described what was happening that night with her and she said when you just started kind of running around the room and it seemed like there might have been like a heart issue that maybe we didn't know that I know Levi's mom and sister both had like a heart issue and they were younger like five times a part of me is like think it was just an asthma attack. I feel like there is more and I think those kind of questions and like I what if we had found out what was wrong could be empty now all these things.

Ultimately it comes to the point where you just have to give those things to the Lord because we were not getting noticed things until heaven and quite honestly once were, and having all those questions are probably just going to melt away because it will be in the presence of our Savior and will will be in heaven. So sometimes I like. I just want to know one another answers and I think to come to a place where we don't know the answers and it's okay. I think that's the big point because people are going to be listening and watching their stories and maybe a little different, but they may have suffered loss and they may still be back there in that guilt feeling like you and it may have been something that they may have been able to avoid that may have been able to save their child's life and it just didn't come out that way and I think it's the theology of that.

I love the construct of organ ago. Nobody escapes it. An eternity is what it's about vicious your daughter got there early, but theologically Levi got to get to that place we can let that guilt go, that's exactly what Jesus died for you. It's a journey. Do you know how it is incorrigible listening to know that it's a process and is not instant you we had moments of surrender. We had moments of peace, we have moments of God's presence, and we had moments of rage, moments of guttural guttural anger anger God not anger at God per se, I began to realize I wasn't angry at him. How could I be saved me want to knit her together in Jenny's womb, the one who even now is holding her. I thought at times I might be angry with God. But when I began to really picked down on it, I realized I was angry with God.

That's a big distinction because in John 11 Jesus is the only instance in the Bible where we actually get to watch Jesus had a funeral Lazarus his friend Astarte loved Lazarus love Mary, Martha, and Lazarus is in the grape and the Bible says, watching the grief of the sisters. He groaned with rage inside that's literally the best definition of the Greek word it's like the bellowing or snorting of an angry horse show how badges was a death have said that's what he told Adam and Eve not to take from the tree. So what I realized was, I wasn't angry I got. I was angry with God because he's angry too and he's angry enough to do something about it. Meaning he sent Jesus to overcome grade the grave and two. In the end of the world. When Jesus returns to call us out of the grave. Let me ask you Jenny because I know in the book you disclose how difficult it was to even get up in the morning and part of the processing here you feel like I'm sure you're moving at different paces, you know, maybe Levi, your getting through some of it in a different way from you Jenny, but for the mom's heart to struggle getting up out of bed to get three of the kids in there looking the mom totally described that I'm actually very thankful that we had three to take care.

I mean, we had seven-year-old 2 1/2-year-old and 91-year-old, and I honestly am so grateful that I didn't have a choice I had to get up. I had to feed clover. I had said on hug Olivia had to still be mom and so I think that was actually such a gift because I mean if Lenny was our only daughter. I can only imagine what what what I do. I mean I was joking with Levi the other night like I just love my bad, I probably would have just stayed in it, but I think that there is just that I have to get up. I have to take the next step.

I have to keep moving forward. Obviously for my family sake but also for my own sake and for what God wants to do in my heart and my life in the healing that he wants to do and I think that sometimes the practical things don't seem as significant.

But that's a really big deal to just show up family yeah I can imagine against some women are listening that they're still in the block like in the box ready for the race, but they can't get blocks what if there is something that really help you or what would you say that person I know every circumstances different. It's a heart hard question to ask you for that person that's coming I can get up what would you say I would say that God has something for each and every one of us in the midst of pain that were going thrill and I think that mean my book. I called it the fight to flourish because God wants us to flourish and live an abundant life, but what is that there seems to be such a disconnect between idea versus the pain in the struggle that were going through. How do we connect the struggle, and heartache in the grief to do this flourishing abundant life that God wants us to live but I think both can happen at the same time. If we see that the struggle that were going through is actually part of the flourishing and a part of that abundant like that were called to lead and I think that sometimes you just have to improve race that daily anything this that daily grind can just feel like what does this even signify what is this what is this purpose that I have when I'm just in this daily moment right now. I think for so many of us I'm sure for so many women especially listening that there's just that daily the diapers that you have to change the babies they have to feel like it just feels so monotonous but that there such joy.

There can be set to join the nest in a PC, but there's purpose in daily and just like the seed that goes into the ground and is meant to become a trader is not to become flowers meant to become whatever it is there's a fight that happens the moment that seed goes in the ground because that the initial little sprout coming out and then the fight that it takes to grow through the dirt and the roots going down deep that the big deal.

Not a lot of work that happens in order for the beauty to come out and so I think that there is a possibility.

As we walk with Jesus and abide in him. My favorite one of my favorite passages in the Bible is John 15 Jesus and abide in me and I in you and you will bear much fruit. I think there's just that daily abiding in Jesus and just running to him and looking to him and that there's a fruit that can happen in the next step. The look, the immensity of the journey overwhelm you. I would say you know you worry about next Thursday just get out of it today and Jenny and her book for the flourish quotes the creed movie with Michael B. Jordan it's a boxing movie and work his coach Rocky Balboa saying them one punch at a time. It's one round at a time, one-sided time. You know so you're grieving today New York. I do not get out of bed. How can I do this next month or two more years.

How can I grieve like this for five years. Just get up and make coffee. Just get up and up and just go to work today, one punch, one route what you Levi thing you Jenny for the mom here talking about the for us as men.

Levi and his fathers and husbands we can pull back as we can't fix it. Then we just get overwhelmed or we feel inadequate, whatever that might be. How did you process that is a man and I'm sure speaking them endlessly how you stay engaged in the fight and not give up and go to the cave know it was hard you know I memorized the car seat manual to install the latch clips correctly. I made sure she had a helmet on.

When she rode a bicycle. I know it's my job to take care of these girls. I was a minority in a sorority for all those years until God gives his son and so I did everything I could to Ives after her well checks and you know we were so to feel like I failed her. That's how I took it for a long time and so part of my expending of energy for the season was trying understand medically what went wrong and how I could've seen it and met with her doctor you like I said explain this to me. I just that I've come to realize I was just spinning my wheels because it was gonna bring her back. Even if I fully understood it and so then there was a hard you know season of not taking this personally and I think God I just had to let God heal me in the and to continue. You know like Jenny said to still show up. Her funeral was the day after Christmas and also we still had to have a Christmas day for her sister's helpless presence. And yes, we had a jut out for a minute. Just pick the cemetery plot but it was like still continuing to do those things and I'm just a layer after layer God's grace when I didn't retreat like you said, but put it out there because it's like your tent in an oyster.

He can turn into a pearl or an abscess.

If you love God coated with a layer of grace a day eventually becomes a pearl of great price.

I think the thing is, those are statements that sound lofty, but they're the right thing to him for not to be discouraged in the journey to get there. We could see the pearl but it's tough.

It's tough when you hear the news that were right at the end here.

I do want to have you come back next time. But I want to ask this question because it was so poignant of the night that your daughter passed away and you're leaving the hospital and that feeling of leaving her behind. That was just described. One of the worst things ever ending we get in the car and it was unknown 11 at night, our kids, other kids are in the car sleeping and we look back and Lenny is car seats empty and we just got it sitting there 1 Like How Do We Dr. away and I mean our house is actually very close to the hospital so that's a whole other thing of passing by the hospital every day. But saying driving away. I don't even know how we did that, but I think one thing that was helpful was there is already a sign of like purpose in it because we got in the car and I saw her little fresh life Christmas invitations that we would carry everywhere include Lenny was always like mommy got invite them to church.

He got it right that lady works at think I should start a church that we are always inviting people to church and plan for the Christmas service in whitefish and Kalispell billings. We would all be all been gearing up for its I saw those imitations in the car and is likely that we should invite the people who were who were just helping us in there for us.

We should invite them to church and so he takes imitations and goes in and invites them mean. I just went out. I was crying in a bus is Jenny's idea to give her all the credit, but I walked in and said hey my daughter just, you know, went to be with Jesus in heaven. Her body still here just as a family would like to invite you to church and I said if you be willing to come will preach on the road message today and I made a promise that I preach and they did know what to do right yes thank you they received invitations, but we found out later that two of the EMTs and one of the respiratory therapist that had been that day. Both came to the service and raise their hands at the invitation to Jesus. Russia's one little moment of redemption that came came out of this. I don't think that's a little bit.

It was huge. That's really big and that's the purpose right there right so that you think about God's ways not being our way.

Three people coming to Christ.

That experience, while that's unbelievable that were out of time. This is a terrible time to stop. Thank you for the vulnerability. Let's come back, continue the story and the things that you've learned.

I know people are being helped just how to grieve in Christ you don't get away from it in this life.

So when people think of the misunderstanding that you become a Christian and the Lord paves the road in front of you maybe even in cold slanted folks. It doesn't mean materially things are going to be different necessarily blessings are there, what you're hearing is the heart of a couple that lost her daughter and found a deeper relationship with Christ in the process. That's the goal we would encourage you to reach out to a trusted Christian friend or pastor. If you're dealing with this kind of await grief with trouble in your life or loss.

We have curing Christian counselors here are made possible by generous donors and would be happy to set up a phone consultation to talk through things to listen to you to pray with you and again it's a free consultation, let us know that you need help when you call 800 K and the word family. It's 800-232-6459 or check the link in the episode notes for more and when you get in touch.

Be sure to ask for a copy of either one of these great books the fight to flourish by Jenny Lesko or through the eyes of a lion by Levi Lesko and also drama me just say said often. You know, didn't touch with us can afford it will give this resource to you so that it will help. That's what it's about. If you want to participate in ministry with us. That's great regulation of Johnson, one of our website. Thank you.

But most importantly, I want to encourage you to get hold of us will this be a part of helping you on the journey to restoration Internet 880 family or the links or in the episode notes on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family on John Fuller inviting you back. As we continue the conversation with Lesko's once again hope you and your family thrive in Christ

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