For Lora Jones, Nov. 23, 2004, will forever remain etched in her memory.
She was traveling in a van along with her family — husband, J.L.; daughter, Janessa; and son, Jayden — eager for the vacation ahead when the vehicle hit black ice. Within seconds, a head-on collision shattered Jones’ whole world.
“I was asleep when the impact came,” she recalled. “The impact knocked me out, so when I awoke I was disoriented. My brain couldn’t comprehend the horror of what I was seeing.”
Incredibly, in that moment, Jones clearly heard God singing to her: “As I was trying to wake my husband up, I heard this voice singing a song,” she said. “Music is so powerful to me and sticks in my head and God knows that. So He sang that night rather than speaking.”
“Do not be afraid,” He whispered, “This is for my glory.”
“Truly, I thought those words, which I later realized were from Casting Crown's 'Voice of Truth' meant we were all going to be OK,” she said. “But at that moment, two of us were gone, I just didn’t know it.”
Jones was taken to a hospital where a chaplain delivered devastating news: Her beloved husband and son hadn’t survived the crash, and her daughter wasn’t expected to live through the night.
She watched helplessly as her family slipped into eternity, one by one. What followed was a time of unspeakable grief, anger, and loneliness.
“I questioned God. I asked lots of whys,” Jones recalled. “When I was released from the hospital by myself, I asked, ‘why did they die?’ And then in the days ahead, as I saw pictures of the van, I asked, ‘why didn’t you let me die too? Why am I still alive?’ I had so much anger of being left behind and struggled to embrace the life that God had for me still on this Earth while everybody got to leave.”
Even in the thick of her pain, Jones chose to continue believing in the goodness of God: “I clung tightly to the words He sang to me that night,” she said. “The whole time, He was there with me, talking to me, helping me survive. He continually asked me to trust Him.”
Jones documents her journey from heartbreak to hope in her new book,Song of a Wounded Heart. In it, she shares her personal journal entries, including the Bible reading plan God used to speak to her and stories of people in the Bible who also struggled with faith.
She also addresses anger and loneliness and the importance of allowing oneself to grieve. Healing for a heart, she explained, is not the absence of pain — and deep wounds can lead to lasting joy.
“We really want our world to be pain-free and it’s just not,” Jones said. “When our heart has been hurt and wounded, we need to allow Him to bring joy back so we can experience both pain and joy. We tend to do the opposite; we try to kill the pain. When we do that, it works like a pendulum. When you refuse to experience pain, it won’t swing the other way and allow you to then experience joy.”
While she misses her family every day, surrounding herself with loved ones and talking about those she lost has helped heal her heart, she said.
“My husband was a pastor and an avid NASCAR fan and mischievous man,” she recalled. “He brought a lot of laughter and ease wherever he went. It gives me great honor to use some of his studying and his notes as I speak to other people. I remember things that he taught, and re-telling some of those stories is a treasure to me.”
“My daughter was 14 when she left this Earth, but she was wise beyond her years. She had so many friends who, to this day, use advice she gave them. That’s been so special to me,” she continued. “My son was 11 when he left this Earth. He was as mischievous as his dad, but very tenderhearted, always championing the underdog. One of the biggest honors this year is that two of Jayden’s friends have named their children after him.”
Based on her experiences, Jones encouraged others going through painful circumstances to allow themselves to be angry and grieve — but at the end of the day, rest in God’s goodness and faithfulness.
“We’ve all had things happen where God didn’t do what we thought He should have; we live in a broken world and it’s a dangerous place,” she said. “In our case, it was black ice that caused the accident. So choosing to believe that God is good and wants a relationship with you is the most important part of surviving in this life.”
“The second part is opening a Bible,” she continued. “I have found that all the characters in the Bible truly come to life. You can see how God interacted with them and thus learn about the character of God and how He wants to interact with you. If you open the Bible and start reading, you’ll find yourself in there. It’s a life-giving book. Those are the two most important things in the journey of grieving.”
Today, Jones describes her life as "quiet and content." She still holds fast to the words of "Voice of Truth," eagerly looking forward to her final home while embracing her life on Earth.
"Out of all the voice calling out to me, I will choose to listen and believe the voice of truth," she said. "In this lifetime, we're not guaranteed happiness. I know I was left here for a purpose. But God tells us that one day, all will be made perfect and whole and I will see my family again in eternity. That's what I choose to hold on to."