Matt Mooney on why God lets us go through pain (and giving away his new book, A Story Unfinished)

I met Matt Mooney a few months ago through a mutual friend, Amber Haines, and realized soon after that I’d met a brother. Matt is one of the most honest, genuine and caring people I know and it’s my true honor to introduce him to you today, and to tell you about his new book, A Story Unfinished, highly endorsed by our own Ann Voskamp, and dedicated to his son Eliot who lived for 99 days. 

I loved the question so much, I feigned maturity and tried to let him finish it; but unbeknownst to him my answer had been 6 years in formation. 
Eliot would be six.  Or should I say he is six?  This is just the beginning of the complications that come when your son flees this world before you do.  And, for today, though I remain undecided, let’s just say he would be six.
That interrogative that leaked from the lips of a friend can be surmised as follows: 
Why after all the hard, did you choose hard again?
Now, let me take this moment to jump up on one of my many soapboxes and set some things straight.  This is just the sort of question that many people wince at upon hearing – because people say such stupid stuff and when they do we wince.  Anyone who keeps one foot in church circles and has also walked through something as immensely painful as losing your child knows the sting of stupid.
But this is not that.  This is honest.  And I celebrate honesty wherever the endangered species pops it head up.  I love this question.
Now let me sprinkle in some context to help you understand why someone would ask me that:
Eliot would be six because he lived for 99 of the most beautiful days that I have known.  Within these passing years we have been blessed with two biological kiddos that are both perfectly healthy and perfectly behaved (as far as you know; excluding that Chik-fil-A scene last week whereby three small girls came screaming out of the playground with minor injuries inflicted upon them by my son… I’m sure they had it coming.)      
           
            And so, losing Eliot was the hard that the question referenced.
Just over a year and half ago, my wife and I spent six weeks in Ukraine in  order to bring home our fourth child.  Her name is Lena.  She has a medley of profound disabilities which I will spare you from trying to explain.  On top of her special needs, the majority of her life had been spent within the walls of         institution.  She was non-verbal and immobile when we brought her home,   as well exhibiting behaviors associated with a life of cribbing and neglect.
           
            And so, she represents the choosing hard again part of the question.
Remember, I’m not wincing with you.
If I have learned anything from walking a road of loss – one I begged not to go down, then it is encompassed in the following words as best as I am able.  God is not about our comfort.  He is about His kingdom coming to this earth.  And when we seek our own happiness in the ways that seem so native to our mind, we walk straightway into a most miserable life. 
His ways are not our ways.
Therefore, where I pinpoint my own happiness lands me instead on an island of death.  He is found on roads that we would not trod but for His voice calling us down them and our recognition that it is He who awaits at the end of the trail.
We did not rescue Lena.  God, through her, is rescuing us.  Saving us from a life spent seeking things only found in Him but on a road where He is not.
Reading Eliot’s story is an ushering into the holy grace of God everywhere — the art of now that could make life a masterpiece.” Ann Voskamp, author of the New York Times Bestseller One Thousand Gifts

**Matt is giving away a copy of his book, today; leave a comment and we’ll choose a random winner within the week. **








30 Comments

    • Bless you, friend. So glad it ministered to you.

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  1. This is hard, and beautiful to read. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Sounds like it will be an amazing book!!

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  3. This is just stunning. I am enraptured by so much of what he says, but especially this:

    God is not about our comfort. He is about His kingdom coming to this earth.

    Look forward to reading his book.

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  4. Here then, is what my heart has been trying to learn –

    “If I have learned anything from walking a road of loss – one I begged not to go down, then it is encompassed in the following words as best as I am able. God is not about our comfort. He is about His kingdom coming to this earth.”

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  5. “We did not rescue Lena. God, through her, is rescuing us. Saving us from a life spent seeking things only found in Him but on a road where He is not.” Thank you for being honest about this truth that most people cannot even begin to understand and many who understand can’t find the courage to accept. You are a rare brave one, yet, I know it is through profound loss that you found this door to understanding. May the Lord continue to bless you as you find him on this road, and may he continue to speak powerfully through your words as he has done here for so many who will read this today.

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  6. When I was going through a really hard spiritual walk, I saw your youtube video, 99 balloons. It had a significant impact on me and thinking about saying ‘may the name of The Lord be praised’, not matter what. Cheering you on in this walk with God, and hoping that many will be impacted by the book.

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    • Tanya,
      Thank you for sharing that you were encouraged….that is am immense delight for us.

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  7. Sounds like a beautiful book, about love, life and stretching of the heart. I am sorry for their loss. It is never easy.

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  8. I am so curious to read this book.

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  9. So looking forward to reading more.

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  10. i bawled with aching and longing and not fully understanding but knowing, in a strange way.

    beautiful. would love to reach his book.

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  11. Wow. This book sounds amazing. I want to read more.

    “Saving us from a life spent seeking things only found in Him but on a road where He is not.” This is a compelling statement, all on its own.

    Thanks for bringing Matt and his story to my attention, Emily.

    Much love and blessings to you and your family, too, as you go through your own “hard part”.

    Carolynn

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  12. Thank you all for the kind words of encouragement. I am honored to join you all in praying for Emily and her family during this time.

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  13. Having been through a different kind of pain for the last year or so, my heart goes out to the Mooneys. I love that he has seen the Father in the midst of the pain and is willing to share that with others!

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    • oh Laura, taking some time tonight to pray for you… love you.

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  14. Amazing story of how when we follow God…the blessing is all ours! Praying for you as you continue to seek Him in your daily walk.
    Elizabeth Lupo

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  15. Thank you for the video, it is encouraging to me. Am losing a son to the wiles of Satan but remembering that it is all in God’s Hands and this is a reminder to give thanks in ALL things … (even the ones we label as ‘bad’). God is good in ALL that He does as stated in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;”

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    • oh Brenda this makes my heart ache. praying tonight for your son.

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  16. Tim Hansel ‘You Gotta Keep Dancing’ and Joni Erikson-Tada ‘A Step Further’ & Dr. Helen Rosevere have helped me so much in grasping the concepts of joy in pain and trust in God no matter what.
    But this is a topic that always needs re-exploring in my life; the challenges and circumstances don’t stop this side of heaven.

    Thanks so much for the opportunity.

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  17. “And when we seek our own happiness in the ways that seem so native to our mind, we walk straightway into a most miserable life.” This is profound. I was praying that my mom, who has tongue cancer, find happiness where she is, and God answered me that He did not want her happy. He wanted to give her JOY. I came by to see the color of your hair for the little girl in the painting I am making for you, and I read this. I am sooo glad I read this. patsy

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    • oh patsy. i didn’t know about your mom. i’m praying for her. and i’m so grateful for you, for the painting you’re making me. it moves me to tears.

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  18. This is amazing. I want His faith. This is painfully inspiring.

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  19. “God . . . is rescuing us. Saving us from a life spent seeking things only found in Him but on a road where He is not.” Yes, this is truth. And the reaching for it, even in spite of our hurts and confusion, is worship. Beautiful, radiant worship.

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  20. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing part of your story with us.

    Janet

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  21. What bravery. I would love to read the rest of the story, though I doubt I could make it through dry-eyed.

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  22. “God is not about our comfort. He is about His kingdom coming to this earth.” -Magnificent!!

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