As a California church community is grieving the death of their lead pastor, his wife has shared a heart-wrenching blog post addressed to him.
Andrew Stoecklein, pastor of Inland Hills Church, attempted to take his own life on Friday, Aug. 24, 2018 after fighting a long battle with depression and anxiety. The church, located in Chino, California, asked the congregation to be pray for him after he was put on life support.
“We love and serve a God of miracles, and we ask you to press in and respond in prayer in faith,” the church wrote.
The 30-year-old father-of-three tragically passed away the next day.
Kayla Stoecklein, Andrew’s wife, shared a post on Instagram that expressed her own grief and encouraged others struggling in the same way to reach out to someone.
“Please pray for me and the boys,” she wrote. “I don’t know how I am going to face this, I am completely heartbroken, lost, and empty. Never in a million years would I have imagined this would be the end of his story.”
The next day, she published and shared a blog post addressed to her deceased husband. The post was shared on the couple’s blog titled “God’s Got This.”
The phrase “God’s Got This” has special meaning for the Stoecklein family.
When Andrew’s father was battling leukemia in 2015, he and his family clung closely to the phrase. According to Kayla, Andrew was “incredibly passionate” about the phrase and started the blog so others could be encouraged by their journey.
Now, the phrase is continuing to provide hope for the grieving wife.
“Our family is still holding tight to that phrase even now. We are choosing to believe that ‘God’s Got This,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “We don’t understand it, we hate it, it makes us angry, we can’t even breathe, but we are trusting God.”
While Andrew’s dad was battling leukemia we clinged to the phrase “God’s Got This.” • It was Andrew’s idea to create a blog so that people could follow along the journey. Andrew was incredibly passionate about the phrase “God’s Got This.” • We have sent hundreds of thousands of wristbands all over the world with those precious words embedded on it. • Our family is still holding tight to that phrase even now. We are choosing to believe that “God’s Got This.” We don’t understand it, we hate it, it makes us angry, we can’t even breathe, but we are trusting God. • This morning I wrote a post to my husband, if he was here these are the words I would say to him. • Andrew, we will keep “God’s Got This” alive in your name. #godsgotthis (Link in Bio)
She promised to keep the blog and the phrase alive in memory of Andrew’s name, starting with an open letter about the things she wishes she could tell him.
“To My Andrew,” the letter began. “It’s only been 3 days. Nothing can take away the suffocating pain I feel now you are gone.”
“I replay the events of that fateful day over and over again in my mind wishing I could have done things differently. Wishing I could have held your hand one more time and prayed over you and told you how much I love you, how much I believe in you, and how God’s got this too.”
She also addressed the weight of depression and anxiety the young pastor was under leading up to his tragic death.
“You were right all along, I truly didn’t understand the depths of your depression and anxiety,” Kayla wrote. “I didn’t understand how real and how relentless the spiritual attacks were. The pain, the fear, and the turmoil you must have been dealing with every single day is unimaginable.”
The attacks, she claimed, came from the enemy confirming her belief in the truth spoken in 1 Peter 5:8, where Peter compares Satan to a prowling lion, “seeking someone to devour.”
“The enemy knew God had huge plans for your life. The enemy saw how God was using your gifts, abilities, and unique teaching style to reach thousands of lives for Him. The enemy hated it and he pursued you incessantly. Taunting you and torturing you in ways that you were unable to express to anyone.”
Kayla then took the chance to say “I’m sorry” to her beloved husband for his feeling misunderstood, alone and betrayed. She also promised to continue to live for him.
“I will continue to live for you. I will raise our boys to be men of God, just like you were,” she promised. “Your name will live on in a powerful way. Your story has the power to save lives, change lives, and transform the way the Church supports pastors.”
At the very end of the letter she took a moment to express the comfort and hope she was already finding in God.
“Until we meet again I will cling to my Father in heaven. He will carry me through every second, every minute, every hour of every day. I read (Psalm 16:8) this morning and I know God is reminding me that even now, in the midst of my deepest pain that He has got this.”
Psalm 16:8 in the Passion Translation reads, “Because you are close to me and always available my confidence will never be shaken, for I experience your wrap-around presence every moment.”
I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of pain and loss that Kayla is navigating while mourning the loss of her beloved husband, but as long as she continues to rest in the comfort that the Lord provides, she will always have hope.
Our prayers and thoughts go out to Kayla, her boys and all that knew Andrew. May they continue to find comfort and hope in the God that he so passionately pointed them toward. #godsgotthis
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.
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