International (MNN) — If you’re here today with a grieving heart, there is hope. Ron Hutchcraft with Ron Hutchcraft Ministries just released his latest book, “Hope When Your Heart Is Breaking: Finding God’s Presence in Your Pain.” Hutchcraft’s own grief journey began four years ago after the sudden death of his beloved wife, Karen.
“Hope When Your Heart Is Breaking” is his honest, broken, and faith-filled look at the difference Jesus makes when your world is falling apart.
Below, we’re sharing part of the interview with Hutchcraft discussing his book in a Q&A format. Listen to the full interview here.
Koh: Ron, you recently wrote a book, “Hope When Your Heart is Breaking”. It just recently came out, and it’s your story of grief and also your story of hope. For me, personally, aside from wanting to talk to you as a ministry partner, I wanted to read your book because I’ve suffered grief recently in the loss of my baby Gideon last year. And you suffered grief in the loss of your wife, Karen, [four] years ago. So thank you for being willing to talk about this book today, Ron. I’m sure it’s going to be a significant encouragement for anybody else listening who’s going through something like this.
Hutchcraft: Well, that is my hope and that is my prayer. Thank you for wanting to do this. And I think the personal-ness of this will be just right for somebody who’s listening.
Koh: Absolutely. So my first question, Ron,…what inspired you to write this book? And who inspired you to write this book?
Hutchcraft: Well, it’s a book I never would have thought I would write. It started, you might say, on the best day of my wife’s life and the worst day of mine. Because that was the day she got to see Jesus and she got to see Heaven. And it’s the same day that I was left here without the person I had loved since I was 19.
Let me take you back to May 15th, 2016. It was a great day. Our oldest grandchild was graduating from high school valedictorian. He gave a wonderful, Christ-honoring talk in a stadium full of people. Now I had to leave right after that and be driven to another state to speak the next day.
So we’re sitting in the bleachers and I said, “Honey, I love you.” And she said, “Well, I love you.” And then, uncharacteristically, she had tears in her eyes. I thought that’s not usual and I said, “Honey, what’s going on?” She said, “Well, I’m really gonna miss you.” And I said, “Well, you know what? It won’t be long.”
I was wrong. I was really wrong.
The next afternoon, while I was in another state getting ready to speak, my son called and told me that Karen was in Heaven. And suddenly, in the room that I’m doing this interview in right now, the Lord took her home.
I got back as fast as I could. And I felt like a lost little boy. I mean, you had to know what a life force Karen was. She was my mirror. She was my compass who let me know when I was drifting. She was my encourager. She was my very best friend, my wisest counselor, and had the greatest laugh you’ve ever heard — picked up on seismographs I think! And in an instant, she was gone.
How could I have known I was saying “I love you” for the last time? You never know when you’re saying “I love you” for the last time.
So that started me on a journey that I had traveled with others. But this was the other half of me, the only person I’d ever shared my whole adult life with, who knew all the same people. We had prayed, laughed, cried over the same things, been through the same battles. Suddenly gone. Irreplaceable. I knew how to do life with Karen. I had no idea how to do life without her.
A couple days later, I started a grief journal. I don’t even know, that idea must have come from God. I wasn’t coherent enough to think that straight. And I started to pour my heart into that journal. I mean, it’s Ron in the raw. All the pain, all the grief, all that I had lost was coming out.
You wouldn’t have to go very many pages in and you’d see this page that had big bold letters at the top. I wrote these words: “I will not waste this grief.”… And I then prayed, “God, if it’s going to hurt this bad, please, somehow, use it to make me more useful to You and more helpful to other people.”
All I can tell you is the past four years have been Him powerfully answering that prayer in so many ways. And I will tell you just upfront that as deep and dark as the grief was, there was something on the other side of the scale. Because if you look at it as a scale, the grief is just totally all on one side. There’s nothing on the other side.
But when there is Jesus, hope has a name. It’s not an idea. Not a concept. Not positive vibrations. Hope has a name. And His name is Jesus.
If you’ve got hope on the other side, then you’re experiencing what the Bible says when Paul wrote to people who had lost loved ones. He said, “We do not grieve…” and if it stopped there, I’d shut my Bible and probably never open it again. That’s a lie. But it says, “We do not grieve as others who have no hope.”
That hope factor [was] embodied in the man who walked out of His grave under His own power. Out of billions of people on this planet who’ve ever been here, only one ever walked out of His grave under His own power and conquered death. It’s what the Bible calls our living hope. And all I could tell you is that anchor holds.
Does it erase the grief? As you know, no, it doesn’t. But that hope balances, outweighs, and in a sense, envelops the grief to make the unbearable bearable, the undoable doable one day at a time.
Koh: So in your book, one thing that really struck me — it’s kind of a thread that runs through the whole thing — is a phrase…. Defiant hope. Could you describe what defiant hope is? Why is that so important in this journey of grief?
Hutchcraft: Well, it’s a strange combination of words, isn’t it? I had never put them together before. I have a mental picture of it.
Back on September 11th,  at about five o’clock that afternoon when it was clear that there weren’t going to be very many survivors, another building across the street was about to cave in. USA Today, I think, called it the darkest hour on the darkest day. It was at that point we’ll all remember it because the picture is iconic. Three firefighters got an American flag off a boat in the East River and raised that flag over the rubble.
That flag over the rubble said, “We’ve had great loss. There’s a lot of dark, dark feelings right now. But this flag signifies that this will not be the end of this story.”
So defiant hope is a choice. As you know from the book, I believe it is not ultimately the loss that determines whether we have more grief, sadness, and hurt — or whether we have hope and healing. It is the choices we make….
I call it a fist in the face of surrender that says I am not going to deny this grief [and] I’m not going to be defined by this grief.
That’s the second choice. So I’m not going to deny it. But I will not revolve my life around this loss. As much as it’s a magnet pulling me down, I’m not going to let this be the defining factor of the rest of my life. I won’t deny it. But I choose not to be defined by it. I choose to anchor my hope to something that I know is real even though I can’t see it….
So what this great loss has done, and the way God answered that prayer to “not waste this grief” — to sum it up, I think I’d say that I feel Jesus. Not just know, not just know about, not just have the theology and the beliefs. But I feel Him. Because my broken heart opened so deep that He went there. And I feel Him more deeply than I’ve ever felt Him before.
Header photo courtesy of Cherry Laithang via Unsplash.