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I’ve been thinking…

May 27, 2008

and that means that complete thoughts must. come. out. in blog form.

I was over at Kim’s Lifesong.  She has posted a beautiful tribute to Maria Sue Chapman, daughter of Steven Curtis Chapman, killed last Wednesday in a horrible accident.  I’ve read Kim for a while and enjoy her writing because I have the sense of being on her couch and listening to her chat with me.

In this particular post Kim establishes her foundation for understanding this tragedy through the sovereignty of God and that she knows His will is being accomplished.  Then, she shares with precious transparency how her human heart cannot help but question this purpose, this way.

I don’t disagree with Kim.  My own heart has ached for this family’s tragedy, and I don’t pretend an end-it-all answer to the questions and hurt accompanying this deep sorrow.

There are a multitude of questions about how could such an accident like this happen to such a family–one who has demonstrated three times over a heart for orphans, a love of God, a ministry formed specifically for the building of families through adoption, and countless other examples of sold out living for the Gospel.  On the whole, if any family would seem to be in the middle of God’s will and thereby protected, many believers would stand up and argue for the Chapmans to be in such a place.

This is the comment I left at Kim’s:

Thanks for sharing this beautiful video. Your questions remind me of 3 men who stood before an awful death and said with the certainty of faith that they knew their God powerful and mighty enough to save them, but if He did not, they would still only bow to Him.

I don’t know why the lesson couldn’t be learned another way, but I do know that God will not only receive the praise and glory for it, but that He Himself will gently sustain each of us as we struggle in this crucible. May He comfort His children.

I’m referring to the passage in Daniel 3:16-18.  That passage has sustained me many times before and still does.  But there was a time in my life when it only angered me–after my son, James, died.  It angered me in the same way that the passage in Genesis 22:1-19 did.  In Genesis Abraham is asked by the Lord to offer Isaac as a sacrifice, and he goes obediently to do so.  But God intervenes and Isaac is protected.

I remember hollering at God, “You brought those three men safely out of that furnace, but you let my son die.  And even though You told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, in the end, he came down the mountain with his son.  You didn’t give my son back to me.  Where were you?  Where are you?”

The answer wasn’t understood by my grieving heart for a long time.  The answer was God was in the fiery furnace, and He was on the mountain.  The answer was God was always with me and never forsook me, even as James took his last breath in my arms.

The question however, is not pointless, and the answer is not trite.  Both are required by God for the drawing of His children to Himself.  The question either hardens a heart or softens it. The answer either is rejected or bears God-glorifying fruit.  God’s will is truly done.

Just this last week there have been two events where my family could have been tragically impacted.  The first occurred while I was outside deadheading some flowers.  A large black widow spider came scurrying out towards my hand, which I moved just in time.

The second was while Husband was taking down our back stairs and landing.  He had the stairs lifted up with the tractor forklift attachment when the youngest climbed up on the tractor, accidentally dislodging the lever that released the forklift.  The stairs came crashing partially down onto Husband’s head.  He was not seriously injured.

Both events served to remind our family that daily things occur, whether we are mindful or not, that could literally change the courses of our lives.  Into only the smallest portion of these does our human understanding realize, and imperfectly at best, that God’s intervention occurred.  When tragedy does occur, we mistakenly believe that God’s intervention was absent.

Enter faith.  The faith of three men unwilling to worship an idol regardless of God’s intervention.  The faith of Abraham to obey to the smallest degree regardless of God’s intervention.  Neither the three nor Abraham knew at the outset of their first small step of faith IF God would “show up.”

The point in both cases is that He wasn’t ever absent.  The faith of believers in this case, no matter how small it may seem, is to believe that God is still ever present.  And in the days to come when the questions and hollering pour forth from the mouths of the Chapmans, may they be surrounded by the presence of His people and His Word until they, in and through grief, see His face.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2008 9:20 pm

    May it be…

  2. May 28, 2008 12:22 am

    Truth is always powerful. Well written, Elle.

    And that is exactly how I’ve been praying for the Chapmans.

  3. May 28, 2008 2:23 am

    God was never absent. Oh how small our perspective is!

  4. May 28, 2008 2:53 am

    It’s the crucible of faith — where what we say we believe meets up with real life. Walkin’ the talk.

    I, too, pray faith and mercy for the Chapmans. How their hearts must ache right now. But ultimately, whom have we in heaven but the Lord?

  5. May 28, 2008 9:17 pm

    So true…God is never absent and the fact that He is all knowing, all loving, and all just brings comfort and peace—in time–as I pray it does for the Chapmans.

    I’m praising God for their response and example in this great trial…it is an example to us…and not just because it is the Chapman’s and they are well known, but because God puts others in our lives to shine forth His glory and be a great example of faith. I pray many will see that shining faith in them.

    I am so sorry about your son–if anyone can speak to this kind of tragedy, those who have been through it can. Thank you, friend!

  6. May 30, 2008 3:55 pm

    He is never absent. Comforting truth.

    Long ago, FirstHusband and I were talking about why bad things happen to good people and he said something that forever changed my perspective.

    “Maybe God allows tragedy in the lives of Christians so the world can see the difference.”

    The Chapman’s witness is so powerful right now. Their response to this pain is illuminating the path to Christ. It may be covered with tears, but the tears make it shine that much brighter.

    Your witness and your courage to post about James is also shining the path to Christ. Thank you.

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