May 1st, 2013

The pain of searing loss

In the movie The Avengers there is a scene where Tony Stark and Bruce Banner are having a conversation. Bruce feels as though being the Hulk is nothing but a curse, a nightmare. He feels exposed, like a nerve, and sees no good in it. Tony, on the other hand, views being Iron Man as a responsibility.

He puts it this way, “You know, I’ve got a cluster of shrapnel, trying every second to crawl its way into my heart. [he points to his chest] This stops it. This little circle of light. It’s part of me now, not just armor. It’s a … terrible privilege.”

The point he is making is one that reverberates through the pages of scripture. Things that come close to crushing you completely can become an integral part of your calling. God has a way of weaving together even the most destructive things we go through to bring about His eternal plans and save the lives of many. He never wastes a trial. He has a plan for your pain.

I think of this scene often. I’m no Iron Man, but the pain of having my little Lenya go to Heaven so young feels at times like a chunk of metal seeking to tear my heart apart. If I had been given a choice between the two I would choose the shrapnel. In a heartbeat. Though it has been over four months now, the sorrow is still very severe. It can vary from a blinding and jolting intensity to a dull, cold, throbbing, like an ache deep in your bones.

I have found that there is nothing you can do with this pain except live with it and keep moving forward. I trust God and pray and read scripture every day. It still hurts. I feel myself getting stronger, but the pain never goes away.

The one thing that brings the most relief, that I look forward to more than anything, is church. Specifically singing. Like Tony Stark’s glowing arc-reactor, I find that when I am surrounded by a throng of God’s people and we are all lifting high the name of Jesus in a worship experience, the pressure inside my chest is alleviated and the sharp barb gets temporarily pulled from my heart.

These are also the moments when I feel nearest to her. Much more so than when I stand at her grave. That plot of earth merely houses her tent, she is in the presence of the Lord. With my eyes closed and my hands raised and the music swirling around me, there are glimpses of God’s glory that transcend all else. In those fleeting moments I feel locked in to the frequency of Heaven and everything else just fades to gray.

2 Corinthians 4:6 “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Posted in heaven, Lenya Lion, raw thoughts


  1. steveandbonnie williamson Says:

    pastor Levi there are no words. just know that youand your beautiful family are surrounded by prayer and love and that your faith and strength are an inspiration⚓

  2. Feel your pain brother. What helped us was seeing our son’s life impact others. Will pray for your family!

  3. Tricia Fellows Says:

    God Bless you Levi for so exposing your feelings….you have written what many feel but cannot so express. Your thoughts have brought me to tears-my heart aches for yours. He is already using your pain… to draw you closer, to be a light for others.. Thank you dear man for being who you are!


  4. Shayla Says:

    Praying for you and Jennie. So thankful and amazed about what God is doing through Fresh Life and your love and passion for our Lord. We love you guys.

  5. Pastor Levi–praying for you and your family. Thank you for being so real and so open.

  6. Michelle Hernandez Says:

    Thanks for sharing, we love and are praying for you always. Friend, brother, and pastor. Though we don’t know you personally this is the way we truely feel. Heart and soul!!!

  7. Josh S. Says:

    My wife and I are praying!

  8. Loretta Says:

    Praying for you and your precious family. Praying for protection and strength for your devoted heart and incredible mind. Envisioning Isaiah 43:2.

  9. My hope is that in Heaven we will not only be reunited with lost loved ones-but introduced to the ones we never had the chance to meet. I have several siblings that were aborted and I look forward to embracing them in the light of God’s glory. God bless you Pastor, I really received a lot from the ‘Naked Eye’ message on Powerful-thank you and God bless you, your family and the ministry:)

  10. Amy Christiansen Says:

    Levi, your words always bring such comfort to me, and so many others. Your weekend messages always renew and revive me, but it was the singing that brought life back to my cold, broken heart while I was going through a very difficult trial 2 years ago. It was the first church experience for me that I felt compelled to raise my hands while worshipping my God. Though the trial was, and is difficult, the memory of those worship times is sweet. As I move forward on this new journey weekend worship continues to strengthen me. I am praying for you and Jennie, and your family, that God will continue to show you the fruit of this very difficult time in your lives. God bless you.

  11. Staci Says:

    Pastor Levi, I’m so blessed by your ministry. You’re definitely anointed by God. Loved the Bread and Circus Series. Your willingness to share your pain was inspiring. May God continue to abundantly bless your family and your ministry. ❤

  12. Becky Says:

    As I looked at Lenya’s picture on our mantle this morning, the tears and prayers came. God know’s, I sure do not understand. We continue to pray for you all.
    Our anchor holds!!!!

  13. We buried our daughter yesterday and the grief is exactly as you described. It’s power and intensity to completely take me out terrifies me.
    I am so, so sorry for your loss. I grieve with you and your wife. I’ll pray for grace upon grace upon grace for your family to live a new normal that’s otherwise impossible apart from Jesus.

  14. Pastor Levi, your teachings on Fresh Life Radio from past series, are even more impactful seeing how you and Jennie are living out the truth of God’s Word in your lives. We so appreciate your passion for sharing the Truth and making it so relavant in our lives. You are continually in our thoughts and prayers. We love you and our Fresh Life family. What an honor to lock shields!

  15. Sara, I am so sorry to hear this and my heart breaks for you guys reading your comment. Praying God holds you up with His mighty right hand and gives you the strength to not lose heart until you are reunited with your daughter in glory. Levi

  16. Kelly Petit Says:

    Levi, thanks for sharing your heart and baring your soul in such a raw way. After listening to you on Sunday in Missoula, Dylan and I went to find my mother’s grave. She’s buried in Missoula. She died young from complications of MS and was in love with Jesus. I haven’t been to her grave in over 15 years. After hearing you talk about our bodies just being tents and our hope of glory when we transition out of them I was given new motivation and courage to know one day I really will see her again and maybe even meet her in clouds when He returns for us so thank you for keepin’ on in the midst of the deep deep grief. Even though we are fairly new to this church we love you so and we pray for you. Kelly

  17. Linda Quinn Says:

    We are all so blessed by your words…. your family has Gods almighty strength…. and it shows so strongly!!! You and your beautiful family are bright shining lights for Jesus!
    God Bless You and all you do to share the word with the lost.. I have to say to you Levi, you have made a huge impact on so many of my friends and family who have let Jesus into there hearts recently since hearing you preach!! (online) We live in Carlsbad Ca. now, but I lived in Whitefish last summer through Dec. and discovered your church then.. and shared your pod cast… We have been praying for you ever since! Thank you and God Bless…

  18. Heather Johnson Says:

    Thank you Levi….I can’t know what you are feeling but know that we are praying for you. We love you and Jenni both, even though you don’t know us. I can’t wait to meet Lenya Lion one day!

  19. Kevin Geer Says:

    2 Corinthians 4:11-12~ For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake,so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body.So then,death is at work in us,but life is at work in you.

  20. Jamie Says:

    I lost my Father unexpectedly in August and I too at times during worship feel close to him. One Sunday, I could hear his voice so clearly. We serve such an awesome God!

    Having to let go of my Father’s body was hard. Through my Father’s death, the Lord showed me that his body was just a tabernacle for his soul. Then, just a few months later, we had to sell my Dad’s beloved home, the house that I was born and raised in. It felt like another death. The Lord reminded me that his home was just a tabernacle for his body. Over and over I have had to fix my eyes on Jesus and look to eternity. I’m sure the pain of losing a child is so much more than losing a parent. I am still praying for your sweet family.

  21. Laura Says:

    I often pray for you and your family and Fresh Life. I have not experienced the death of a child but have experienced loss of them to drugs and self destructive behavior and the pain is real. I thank you for choosing to bless the Lord’s name anyhow, no matter what! He is worthy and though His ways are higher than our ways and we won’t always understand, he promises His love is also as high as the heavens are above the earth for those who fear him. (Ps 103) I try to rest in that promise and walk one day at a time…

  22. Michael Lindsey Says:

    Levi may it be a comfort to you and your wife in knowing as you, her father, were giving your daughter her last breathe when she closed her eyes. Lenya opened her eyes in heaven to see her Heavenly Father breathing the breathe of eternal life into her. May the Lord continue to surround you all in His unfailing love and in the hope for the one day when all our tears will be wiped away by His gentle touch.

  23. Ana Fausta A. Fagundes Says:

    As a mother I have felt the excruciating pain of separation but its counterpart was a closeness to God I had never felt before. Utter pain, utter bliss such as I never thought I would miss, but I do because I was in the presence of God. May the Lord our God be with you and your wife.

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