Finding Purpose in the Midst of Heartbreak

Do you believe that good can come out of bad situations? That purpose can be found in the midst of heartbreak?

I dont think God delights in our suffering. I believe he hurts right along with us. But I also believe that if we allow him to, he will show us how we can find purpose despite—and in the midst—of painful situations. And in discovering that purpose, maybe we also embrace healing a little easier.

This past year, three such people have made an impact on my life …

Magnolia Mae Goetze

This past weekend, a little girl’s life was celebrated by over a thousand people attending her memorial service in person, and a great number via online streaming. Why was it so important that they be a part of honoring her and saying good-bye?

Maggie’s father, Jake, is a pastor at Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, WA. My youngest daughter and her husband are good friends of the family, so I cried along with them as they walked this journey with the family and friends.

In September 2014, three-year-old Maggie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and given 9 to 12 months to live. After nine months, she quietly left this world to join her heavenly Father. After the diagnosis, her dad set up a Facebook page, asking people to pray for Maggie’s healing. What happened was remarkable. Thousands of people from all over the country and world became aware of Maggie’s story and began to pray and post notes on the Facebook page. As the family made memories with Maggie, they shared photos and updates.

People fell in love with this sweet girl and her family. Her parents’ trust in God became a testimony of faith and a source of encouragement for others. While she could still speak, Magnolia talked about cuddling with Jesus when she got to heaven.

“A little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6 NIV). Stories have been relayed of people being restored in faith and their relationship with God. Young Maggie gave meaning to life and more hope to people in her three short years than many people have in eighty-three.

Jesse Rees

I recently saw a TV segment about the Jesse Rees Foundation. I was blown away by this unselfish young girl. Twelve-year-old Jesse fought two brain tumors over the course of ten months before that battle ended on January 5, 2012, when she moved from her earthly home to the one waiting for her in heaven.

Jessie learned that many children who have cancer are unable to leave the hospital, and she wanted to make their stay a little easier. So, she started filling paper bags with her own toys to give to those children. That kind gesture grew into JoyJars with the message to “Never Give Up” (NEGU). Jessie personally sent over 3,000 JoyJars to kids. Her parents carry on with purpose and are active participants in the Jesse Rees foundation. As of today, over 80,000 JoyJars have been filled and sent to children in hospitals in over twenty-seven countries.

Chris Norton

As a freelance editor, I sometimes have the privilege of coming across extraordinary stories. I recently worked on a book called The Power of Faith When Tragedy Strikes by Chris Norton, his father Terry Norton, and ghost writer Christy Hayes.

This inspiring story started on October 16, 2010, in Decorah, Iowa, when Chris was severely injured during a college football game while making a tackle on a kickoff. Chris was told because of his spinal cord injury, he had a 3 percent chance of ever regaining movement below the neck, but he refused to accept that prognosis.

Through therapy, hard work, and determination, Chris recently walked across the stage to accept his college diploma. He attributes his success to faith, family, and friends. Chris had tremendous faith and support from those around him.

But as he was fighting his own way back, he realized that many others who had similar injuries didn’t have the same advantages he did—great equipment, support, and insurance that covered much of the costs. So he and his family launched the SCI CAN Foundation. The mission: “To promote the long term health, wellness, recovery, and quality of life for individuals with spinal cord injury and other neurological disorders by providing additional funds to facilitate opportunities that would not otherwise exist.”

Chris found purpose in creating the foundation, and he’s asked to give motivational speeches across the country. The media caught on to his story, and he’s been interviewed on nationally televised shows like Good Morning America and the Today show where he’s had the opportunity to share what God has done in his life.

Have you read or heard similar stories that have inspired you? 
How have you used tragedy or painful experiences to help others?




  1. I had the opportunity last week to get my old job back. Although we need the money and I loved my old job, at some point I had to realize that my family was right when they said that I just wasn't able to work full-time again. That hurt. But then I realized that if I were working again, then I wouldn't be writing.

    Although I lost the opportunity to connect with those at my old job, I have to remember the writers we connect with on Seriously Write and how we help them. For now, at least, that's my job.

    1. Angie, I'm sorry you had to pass on something you enjoyed doing. It sounds like you had to work through your feelings on this one and focus on the positive things you have going instead of your disappointment. Still, that's not always easy to do. Kudos to you for being able to accept where God has placed you for now. :-)

  2. Dawn, thank you for reminding us what's really important in dark moments. You have a great heart and inspiring way of helping others. I loved seeing Bethany Hamilton, shark attack survivor, last year locally and watching THOUSANDS of young girls admire her, sitting at her feet, soaking in lessons from her and Sarah Hill, also an amazing story of resilience. It helps so much to look for the pearls that come from the trash (had to use gem analogy) like with an oyster. It helps us to look up when life wants us to keep looking down. Thanks again!

    1. Hi, Elizabeth!

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Oh, I so agree ... Bethany Hamilton is another person who has used difficult experiences for good. I can imagine how powerful it was for you to participate that event where she spoke. She's been placed where she can be a huge influence. Pretty amazing.

      Love the pearl analogy. :-)


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