Finding Strength in the Darkest Days

Everything went silent.

That’s how it felt when we heard the news. I didn’t know what to think, or how to feel. The world around me hushed. It was if a tunnel had swallowed all but a single focus. Every thought stilled except for the facts I learned listening to one side of a phone conversation.

My husband Mike and I were on vacation in Orlando. Our daughter and son-in-law had just joined us, and my son and daughter-in-law were due to arrive the next day.


Receiving the News

Mike answered a call from his dear friend and second in command who said words we prayed we’d never hear. We had an officer down and he was unresponsive.

Not long later, the medical team issued the pronouncement of death. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office had just experienced their first line of duty death since 1988.

One of the wives in our Sheriff’s Office family, Mrs. Heath Gumm, had just become a widow. His parents had just lost their son. Heath’s sister lost her brother. Fellow officers lost a friend, a trusted partner, and a brother in blue. Our community lost one of the good guys – a deputy who truly loved to serve. None of us will ever be the same.

Finding Strength Through Joy

I’m sharing this with you because I feel that my ministry and calling are to help others find joy in a jumbled life. That day – a week ago yesterday – our lives were far more than jumbled. They were shattered.

My hope is to share how, even as we received some of the worst possible news, the joy of the Lord could remain our strength. You see, joy is not the feeling of happiness. It’s often confused with an emotion or associated with a favorable set of circumstances. But joy is different from that. It’s a steadfast, abiding mindset. It’s an instinctive understanding that all the characteristics of God’s nature remain intact – even through our hardest struggles.

Embracing joy involves trusting in God’s goodness, even when we can’t see how an ounce of good can come from something we’ve experienced. Joy is wrapped in the knowledge that God can redeem and restore any circumstance. It’s the knowledge that He will eventually shine light through the most terrible, unthinkable circumstances. Even when we can’t imagine how.

The Bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength (see Nehemiah 8:10). I recently heard a teacher describe it this way: We are only as strong as the level of joy that we embrace.

So, the more I trust God, the more strength I garner to walk through difficulties. The more that Mike relies on the Lord’s guidance to order his steps as he leads the agency and our community, the stronger he becomes – even amidst our own personal grief. The more that you trust in God’s goodness, the more strength, and power you can muster to navigate whatever you’re facing.

It’s not scientific, but it is proven theology. I can’t explain it by numbers or equations but through personal experiences and testimonies of those who have watched it play out. The joy of the Lord, indeed, is our strength.

Joy is God’s Gift of Strength

His joy is available for all His children. It’s one of God’s mightiest gifts to us. Let’s not let the gift go unopened. Instead, let’s open and embrace the gift of God’s joy even when… no – especially when … the struggles of life come close to utterly breaking us.

After Mike received the horrific news, we put him on the next flight home. He began the long journey of seeking answers and moving toward healing, walking shoulder to shoulder with some of the finest men and women in our law enforcement community.

At last, I arrived home several long days later and had the privilege of spending a little time with some of the Sheriff’s Office team. Through the eyes of many I’ve come to love, I saw broken hearts, confusion, and weariness. But I also saw unified purpose and resolve. As they looked to their leader, I saw glimmers of hope and the full awareness that Deputy Gumm’s ultimate sacrifice will never be forgotten.

The joy of the Lord is our strength, and through that joy, happiness will once again return. It will take time, yes. For now, we grieve. And we do so with honor.

By embracing the joy of the Lord in our pain, He will usher in healing and wholeness. What happened will never be made right, but it can be redeemed. We await that day with eager expectation and trust the Lord will bring it. Until then and forevermore, His joy will remain our strength.








  1. Mali Bunce

    Dear Cathy,

    I am deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Deputy Gumm. I too share your understanding
    of having loved ones in harm’s way in order to give the rest of us peace and freedom. What
    shock and uncontrollable tribulation is upon you all now… Indeed your grief and mourning
    must be great now.

    May our Jesus, who is our refuge and strength and a very present help in trouble, Psalm
    46:1, hold you all tenderly as you grieve and seek Him. He is no stranger to our
    suffering! May He Himself soothe, comfort and strengthen you and all those who grieve
    Deputy Gumm’s death with the nearness of His presence, for He Himself has said, “I will
    never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” so that we confidently say,“The Lord is
    my helper, I will not be afraid…” (Hebrews 13:5-6).

    I am so grateful to our Savior for overcoming death and darkness, as well as all our sin,
    at His mighty cross and so thankful for your faith and the supernatural joy you can have
    because of it, which allows us to be able to have all hope in our grief and to rejoice while
    we mourn!

    In walking with the LORD through intense grief, He spoke great encouragement to me and
    I am asking Him to do the same for you now, as well as all that are in mourning over this loss.

    A comfort He gave me was the truth that death in Christ is just a shadow, Ps. 23;4, and
    that just as shadows fully disappear when the sun is completely overhead, so death in the
    Son disappears!

    Another comfort our Father of lights reminded me of is that He is the giver of every good
    and perfect gift, James 1:17, and I can have all the good gifts He gave to those whom I have lost
    directly through Himself as I draw near to Him in fellowship and intimacy. May He be a Husband
    to Mrs. Gum now, and a Son to his parents and a Brother to his sister as well.

    Though we are in the house of mourning and in the valley of the shadow of death, there is
    such encouragement in the Living LORD of Hope and Glory! The Gospel is so glorious, isn’t
    it! How excellent is His grace that Holy, Sinless God would make Jesus Christ Himself who
    knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in
    Him, 2 Corinthians 5:21! Though all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
    (Romans 3:23), and the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Christ
    Jesus (Romans 6:23). How glorious that God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that
    while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8), once for all (Hebrews
    7:25-27), never to die again (Romans 6:9), the Just for us the unjust (1 Peter 3:18)!

    I celebrate and remind you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died
    for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised
    on the third day according to the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 15:3,4! If you confess with
    your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,
    you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and
    with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation, Romans 10:9-10.

    What a living hope we can hold to because of His almighty death for our sin, Psalm 23:4,
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

    John 11:25-27 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who
    believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me
    will never die. Do you believe this ?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have
    believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”

    Isaiah 25:8
    8 He will swallow up death for all time,
    And the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces,
    And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
    For the Lord has spoken.

    John 5:24
    24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has
    eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

    Hebrews 2:14-15
    14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also
    partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power
    of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were
    subject to slavery all their lives.

    1 Corinthians 15:25-28
    25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy
    that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His
    feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is
    excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to
    Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to
    Him, so that God may be all in all.

    1 Corinthians 15:51-58
    51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in
    a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound,
    and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable
    must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this
    perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on
    immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in
    victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting
    of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us
    the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be
    steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is
    not in vain in the Lord.

    Psalm 121
    I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
    From where shall my help come?
    My help comes from the Lord,
    Who made heaven and earth.
    He will not allow your foot to slip;
    He who keeps you will not slumber.
    Behold, He who keeps Israel
    Will neither slumber nor sleep.
    The Lord is your keeper;
    The Lord is your shade on your right hand.
    The sun will not smite you by day,
    Nor the moon by night.
    The Lord will protect you from all evil;
    He will keep your soul.
    The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in
    From this time forth and forever.

    And isn’t it wonderful that, better than a body guard, we have a soul guard in Jesus who
    protects us from all evil, both temporal and eternal evil?

    So, though you are suffering, may you also be given the grace to rejoice in Him who is
    with us in all afflictions and in fact in all our afflictions is afflicted (Isaiah 63:9)
    and who has overcome all this tribulation for us (John 16:33)!

    What promises are to come: Revelation 21:3-7,
    3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is
    among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself
    will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no
    longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first
    things have passed away. 5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all
    things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” 6 Then He said
    to me, “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give
    to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. 7 He who
    overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.”

    How wonderful that our Savior Christ Jesus has abolished death and brought life and
    immortality to light through the gospel, 2 Timothy 1:10!

    May He comfort each of you in all your mourning, giving you a garland of rejoicing in the
    place that this death has wrought ashes in your souls. May He give you the
    oil of gladness in the place of mourning, and the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of
    fainting so you will continue to be called oaks of righteousness, plantings of the Lord,
    that He may be glorified, Isaiah 61:2,3.

    May He give you all joy, even in the house of mourning. Ecclesiastes 7:2 tells us that it
    is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is
    the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart. In the house of mourning we learn
    that life is a brief gift, and that the world is broken and death comes becomes of our
    sin, and that we can grope for God who will create a new heavens and a new earth without
    sin and death! May He do mighty work as we walk with Him in this house of mourning!

    May you walk with Him every step of the way through this darkness back into His glorious
    light and life! He is faithful to lead you every step of the way!

    Please feel free to share this, and our deep gratefulness, with Deputy Gumm’s family.

    Love in Christ,
    Mali, a mom of two brave men: a Marine Officer and an Army Officer.

    • Cathy McIntosh

      Thank you, Mali. Nothing ministers like the Word of God! Please thank your sons for their service and sacrifice. ❤️

  2. Harlan Moore

    Cathy, it’s been a few years since I had the pleasure of working with Mike. I knew right away that he would be successful. With a great Godly woman standing next to him how could he not be? I too am blessed to have a God loving wife who has blessed me for over 40 years. Tomorrow will be a very tough day for Mike as he must show strength for the sake of those he commands although he is hurting inside. I wish I could be there for the funeral but that doesn’t mean my heart and prayers are not with you, Mike, the Gumm family and the ACSO family. At the time of the service I will spend some quiet time with god asking for his continued blessings for you all. God bless.

    Harlan Moore
    Delaware County SO

    • Cathy McIntosh

      Thank you so much, Harlan. We have felt the prayers of God’s people. Truly they are what has sustained us.


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