The Fortieth Day

August 18th, forty days have passed.  Forty days since that sinister crack of wood boomed through my consciousness, stole two incredibly precious lives, and left me underneath  a gritty, heavy, frightening darkness, wondering how I was still alive.

Forty days is the period we set aside for mourning in Ukraine after death.  Just as Israel was forty years in the wilderness, Jesus forty days in a desert, forty is a unit of time by which we understand some sort of completion to this chapter of trial in our lives.  And then, at forty days, still hurting and remembering, we stand again at the grave of our lost one, and then do our best to move on. 
 
Today, on the fortieth day, I’m trying.  Honestly, I’m not sure what that means, I am not sure what it is that I should do.  The memories are still so present and oftentimes vivid; the tears are still so frequent and uncontrollable.  As I write, rain is steadily falling from the sky, clouds almost completely blanket the sun.   In some ways, I wish this dreary weather would stay for weeks.  I’m not ready to move on.  
 
Nothing that happened that day was okay.  It was not reasonable; it was not fair.  This was a terrible, shivering reminder that this decaying world we live in is under a curse.  How did this wonderful man, who was giving himself in the service of God, working so diligently with whatever task he was given, happen to walk into the room the moment of the collapse?  Why of all lives, why was it Illya whose life was cut so short?  He was one of the most wonderful, loving, pure hearted people I have ever known. 
 
Why was I spared?
 
Tomorrow, the weather will get better.  Shannon, Jesse, Jeremiah and Shannon’s parents Bob and Betty are coming for a visit.  I cherish their visits.  I love watching Jesse tear through the grassy yard, jumping, kicking, laughing and making sure that Daddy is watching.  I can not believe how happy and large Jeremiah is, as he plays with his favorite toy on visits, my crutches.  Shannon is always next to me, holding me, comforting me; her touch has been more soothing than any opiate pushed through my veins.  My family more than anything is helping me heal, feel joy, and with little bits of hope look to the future.
 
As much as I physically still feel like a dinosaur, I have come so far.  Just weeks ago I could scarcely move my legs, turn to my side, breathe without constraint, or have the courage to look at my almost alien leg.  Originally, we were told it would be six months before I was on my feet.  But God has been merciful to me, to my body.  Forty days later and I have been on crutches already for a week.  Pain is subsiding, numbness in my left hand is diminishing; two muscles in my right hand, even if ever so slightly, are responding to signals from my brain.  
 
I am healing.  I am doing better.  And although I still feel so emotionally and physically broken, nothing consoles me more than the mercy I received to continue being husband and father, son and brother, friend, and soon, I pray, again pastor and missionary.  
 
I want to thank you, all of you, for everything you’ve done for us. It has been your support and prayers and encouragement that has upheld us, especially in those first days, and that continues to sustain us as we push ahead and keep fighting.  Your prayers have been truly heard; I have every confidence in that.  Please continue to pray that what Satan intended for evil, our Heavenly Father will make good.  
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34 thoughts on “The Fortieth Day

  1. Thanks for letting us in on the pain, struggle, fight you are going through. I praise God for your mourning. I praise God for his healing for your body, mind, and spirit. May the grace and strength of the Spirit cause you to stand today in many ways. Don’t forget this though my brother. It is not that you may be a pastor and missionary some day. That never stopped. It is who God has called and empowered you to be. This incident does not end or even temporarily stop his call on your life. You are simply living out your call in a different way now. I love you guys and continue to pray for you. I can’t wait to be able to see you, celebrate your life with you, and pray over you. Grace and peace to your whole family. Rusty Teeter

  2. God is making it good. Take heart, Jesus is victorious. And just as your sweet sons are laughing and playing and joyfully enjoying your presence, Ilia and Dave are joyfully enjoying the presence of their Father right now! We love you and are praying for you everyday.

  3. Oh, David. Reading your post has left me in tears. Seeing all the pictures of your recovery and reading Shannon’s updates has been wonderful. But knowing these are your words gives me such an incredible relief that you actually are on the mend. Adam and I have been praying for you and your precious family. Those first few days, we prayed without ceasing. I’m so sorry this tragedy occurred and that you’re struggling with the questions of “why”. That happens in our home as well. We love you and your family a great deal. DRU

  4. The universal question we all, at some point in life, have. Why? It’s a holy mystery. I hear you talking about your beautiful family and this is a testament of praise to God and God’s goodness. Your ministry will continue because your family has answered the call faithfully. God has more for you both to do! Continue to heal and rest, knowing that you and your family ARE a blessing to others. Continue to be in community with others in the name of Christ.
    Peace be with you now and forever! Amen.
    Charles Barrow

  5. David,
    As I feel your pain through your words, I can’t help but think of Romans 8:26-27:
    26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
    Every night I think about and pray for you and Shannon and your sweet, precious boys. Likewise, Katie and Nick and all the university students we met and worked with are in my prayers, too, esp. Lubomir(sp?) and Volodia. I treasure hearing the sermons those two fine, young Christians preached while we were there, and I know they are doing tremendous work in your absence. Take care and don’t rush your recovery. It’s not meant to be a sprint, but a marathon, and I know with God’s help you’ll be victorious!
    Sending much love,

  6. WOW! David, truly you are one of His chosen ones! As well as Shannon! We love you & your testimony is astounding & powerful to His glory! Life is a mystery and often void of answers we desire but God is still God on the mountain, God in the valley, God of the day time and God in the night time. Thank you for keeping the Faith Love & Calling! You are His witness and spark of light in & to a world of darkness! Shabbat Shalom! Love, JoJo

  7. David, I cannot express how wonderful it is to hear from you. I know that you and your family will get through this trial and be even stronger than you were before as He that is in you is greater than he that is in the world. He was there that day and has worked His plan over the last 40 days and will continue to do so in the future. God is at work in you and for sure He has plans for The Goran family in the future. The Gorans are an inspiration for me and many all over the world, we are grateful for what you have done, are doing, and very excited about how He will use you in the future. You and the family are in our thoughts and prayers. as well as all the leaders that are continuing in your absence in L’viv. Love to all, Jack Aulick

  8. This brought tears to my eyes! I felt like I was reading a wonderful book on faith from the church library. Your words are so eloquently filled with passion and emotion. Even in recovery, you are spreading faith to others with your words…all aspects of faith, including the wonderment and “whys”. You are still acting as Gods testimony through your heartfelt words! God knows He has a special servant in you David and Shannon. All of us are honored to catch a glimpse of that and be reminded of His miraculous ways. Praises to our God and continued prayers for all of you! Say hello to Bob and Betty from us!

  9. David, thank you for that very emotional writing. We continue to pray that you will get past this dark time and continue to minister in the Ukraine. Love and many prayers, Mary Hackl, Urbana Grace UMC

  10. As everyone gathered for the 40-day rite, you were present with them in spirit. The loss of Illya and David, your injuries, the disruption of the ministry in L’viv — all echo the trials of Job. And we stand, shouting to the heavens, “Why? We want an answer!” But we know the futility of that cry, and sink slowly into an uncomfortable silence. And in that silence, we hear a small, still voice, “I am ever with you. I will not abandon or forsake you.” Pain, sorrow, despair, death — all an inevitable part of this human life. Yet from this valley of shadows, we know that a mountaintop experience awaits, the day you, Shannon and the boys return to L’viv and resume your role as pastor and missionary. In the meantime, lie beside the still waters, rest in The Shepherd’s care, and keep close to you the memories of those who have been granted eternal rest. We will see them again one day. Prayers ascend for your continued recovery, and the day we will rejoice with you upon your family’s return to L’viv.

  11. David,
    Thank you for sharing your heart, thiughts and dreams. You and all your family are in my prayers. Blessings.

  12. I shed many tears reading your words, as I have for the past 40 days. I continue to pray for complete healing for you and a quick return to your ministry in L’viv. There is a Good Shepherd window in my church, and I always picture those who are hurting as the lamb in Jesus’ arms as i pray. May you feel His arms holding you close.

  13. Hey Gorans! Love and continued prayers from VUMC! We are lifiting up your pain and rejoicing in your progress. We are sharing your updates so keep them coming! Hugs to all!

  14. What a beautiful and honest testimony to the strong faith and trust you and your beautiful family have in our mighty God! Our prayers here at Pampa FUMC are continuing for God’s healing and strength for you and for courage, peace, and patience for your family. I truly believe that this tragedy will result in overwhelming good and a powerful testimony to God’s power,love and grace. May you feel God’s love holding you close every minute of the day!

  15. David, what an emotional, inspiring commentary. I am so glad you were able to share so many of your feelings and so much of yourself with all of us who needed and wanted to hear from you. My heart is heavy that you continue to be in such physical and emotional pain. We love you guys and pray for you, Shannon and the boys daily.

  16. Wow David!!! Your honesty is sooo refreshing!!! We can’t even begin to imagine all that you have experienced these last forty days but are grateful beyond words to God for preserving your life here on Earth! The Branham’s love y’all and will continue to lift you and all those involved in this terrible tragedy in prayer DAILY!!!!

  17. oh, david – thank you for this window into your soul – it is so good to hear from you. our thoughts and prayers are yours many times every day. amen to so many of the replies you’ve received to this entry, but i love most what rusty had to say – never doubt God’s call on your life, even in and around this tragedy. the name of Jesus has been and will continue to be lifted up – and fred and i have no doubt that you and shannon will experience and be the light of Christ like never before. we love you – stacy and the werfs

  18. david. Betty and I have really enjoyed the past few weeks here in Germany visiting with you. I know you will miss the kids on the next visit with Shannon. But we will take good care of them till you are reunited with them in Champaign. Maybe we can find a good “rib place” in Champaign upon your return. If not we will have to settle for some “yankee” Mexican food. Ha. Looking forward to being with you again in September in Champaign. Continue to maintain your high spirits that we saw during our visit and you will have a speedy recovery back in the states.

  19. David, our prayers are with you at Pampa FUMC. Shannon, in spite of David’s physical pain, we pray for you also. Being the caregiver is extremely stressful on you, for you take care of both David an the boys. I went on one mission trip to Russia (not the Ukraine) and the people were so good to us and I’m sure your congregation is inspired by your continued faith in God and his goodness.

  20. We at First United Methodist Church in Hereford, Texas are so very pleased to hear from you again. We have been praying for your recovery and for the families of the other two men. We are so sorry for the lost of these two wonderful Christian men. Each having such special skills. Take care. We love hearing updates from you and Shannon.

  21. You and your sweet precious family have been, and will continue to be in my prayers. Your words are so inspiring to everyone who reads them and I am so thankful you shared them.

  22. Thank u, David for sharing!
    We miss u and ur sermons so much! Ur blog was like a sermon for us!
    Martha is growing and waiting for ur return too:)

  23. So great to hear your “voice”.

    You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

  24. David and Shannon, you and your family continue to be in our prayers. God is truly working a miracle in you. We do not know why these awful things happen but we know our God cries with us as He holds us close. May He continue to give you His peace. Blessings, Ed and Becky Monto

  25. You have our deepest sympathy for the loss of your dear friends. And our praises for the way God is working to heal you. Please take heart as you wait on the Lord to work His will. You have been and will continue to be in our prayers.

  26. David–you bear eloquent witness to the prophet’s promise that they who wait upon the Lord shall indeed renew their strength. I know these 40 days have not been easy but how wonderful it is that you are being steeled and healed to run again, without weariness and without crutches. We have been praying for a healing of your bruised emotions as well–not that you will come to understand all that happenef but can trust the One who can make all things right in the end. When you are back here let’s spend a day talking and praying together. I trust you will know how greatly you and Shannon and the boys are loved here at Lakewood. We continue to hold you in our prayers, that God may continue to hold you in His hands. Every grace, Chappell

  27. Hi, David–your words brought tears to my eyes as you shared you heart. And what a loving heart it is! The wisdom of your words touched my heart. Thank you for trying to put everything into the perspective of God’s loving heart. Without that, where would we be? I’m blessed to know you! Donnie & I will continue to pray for you & Shannon–y’all are very special to us!

  28. David, you, Shannon and the kiddos are often in our minds and prayers. It is good to have some insight on how you are doing physically, emotionally and spiritually so that we know how to continue to pray. We send you all a hug- The Voytenkos.

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