“I was crushed,” she said, looking me straight in the eyes.
“I was crushed and I cried out to God for answers. When the Bible tells us that God is near to the brokenhearted, that is real,” Sherri Burgess said.
I’d heard pieces of her story. I knew her two-and-a-half-year-old son, Bronner, drowned in a swimming pool Jan. 19, 2008. I knew her husband, Rick, from the nationally syndicated talk show “The Rick and Bubba Show.”
But I didn’t know what I was going to say to her. I was sent to interview her about her upcoming book, “Bronner: A Journey to Understand,” and I was nervous. What kinds of questions do you ask someone who has tragically lost a child?
As I sat down to talk with Sherri, I was beyond relieved when she opened up. She spoke with such passion, such conviction. All I could do was listen and pray I was typing the right words.
I expected her to talk about how hard it was and how heartbroken she was. And she mentioned those things, but what she really shared with me was one of the most beautiful testimonies I have ever heard.
She said “Bronner” was never intended to be a book on grief — it’s a book on a God who loves us even when it doesn’t seem it.
“Before [Bronner went to heaven] I felt blessed and protected by God. But this kind of calamity — it shakes you to the core. And I had to work it all out with God and struggle like Jacob did for answers, and He gave them to me time and time again.
“I told God, ‘We were so happy.’ And God said, ‘But I want you to be holy.’ Ever since then my life has taken on a different trajectory so that I’m not pursuing happiness so much as I’m pursuing God,” Sherri said.
I just stared at her, typing furiously. “This is what I want,” I thought. It’s not that I want to lose someone I love deeply — it’s that I want to chase God and show His truth and His light even through my worst times.
Before I could even form a thought, Sherri voiced what my heart was saying.
She said, “It is so freeing because those chains to the world have been broken and my heart is so wrapped up in the things of God and Heaven and His Spirit. Now I’m free to walk in the way that God has called me to walk. I don’t live for the world anymore.”
I’ve heard that phrase my whole life — “Don’t live for the world.” But I’ve never ached for it like I did that day when Sherri said it, her eyes boring into mine. I struggled to keep my composure. “Reporters don’t cry,” I told myself. “Be professional.” And I didn’t cry then. But I am as I write this.
The kind of faith that Sherri showed me that day is not faith that is easily captured. You get that kind of faith by struggling, failing, being broken and relying on God to put you back together. And you keep that kind of faith by staying close to Him; by pushing away all the distractions, all the noise.
Do I have that kind of faith, the kind that stares up at eternity every day and says, “Lord, all for you”? No. Am I working on it? Absolutely.
Editor’s Note: Margaret a contributor to this blog, but isn’t the only writer whose words you may see here. To read more posts by Margaret or to see the other writers, visit the authors’ categories in the menu at the top right corner of the screen.