Friday, May 23, 2008

Comprehending Loss

Like countless others, I had the Chapman family at the forefront of my thoughts and continual prayers yesterday. I was encouraged to read others voicing what I was thinking…Oh Lord, why?! Why this precious child? Why this dear family? Why under such tragic circumstances? Losses like this cry out for some form of explanation. Why? I ask out of complete inability to reason such a heart-wrenching loss in my human state. Yet even in the asking, I know and fully trust in God’s sovereign will, as do all believers, and somehow that trust gives us peace. Peace in the knowledge that although horrific and shocking to us, our all- knowing Lord appointed every day of little Maria’s life. It was always His plan that her stay would be brief. There is also peace that what happened Wednesday was allowed, through God’s permissive will for purposes that only He can understand. It is because of his great love and compassion that He is prepared for the outcry of our hearts, our hard questions and even our "Why’s."

I picked up a book some time ago called When Life is Cut Short – A Biblical Guide to Dealing with Tragedy. I wanted to share insights from several excerpts (in paraphrased form)…

It seems incomprehensible that God resides in the midst of such [tragic] situations, but He tells us in Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." That is the absolute truth. God doesn’t leave us alone in the dark to deal with our sorrow. He is very present to meet the critical need of our personal comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:4). So intentional is His presence that He specifically promised to be near to the "brokenhearted" and "those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18). Our assignment is to take the first step, to welcome God’s personal attendance to our comfort in time of trouble.

If God didn’t spare his own Son, but gave Him up for all – can we not trust Him to give us, with Him, everything we could possibly need? According to His promises in Romans 8:38-39, nothing -- not death, not life, what happens today or what may happen tomorrow can separate us from the love of God in Christ. God promises to weave our tragic situations into something constructive and beneficial for us, which gives a hope unexplainable by outward appearances. Think of Christ…He was able to withstand the terror and shame of the cross "for the joy set before him." (Hebrews 12:2) Surely He gathered strength from the hope that His senseless torture and barbaric crucifixion were being woven by His Father, into a glorious plan. A plan to bring about something infinitely beneficial for countless others. It was His Father’s promise of future glory that empowered Him to endure.

We may walk in the dark, but not alone. (Isaiah 50:10) It is said that Navy pilots experience three to five seconds of havoc after their planes leave the deck of a carrier in takeoff. Until their indicator needles stabilize, they are literally in the dark about their position. There is likewise a time of emotional havoc between the moment tragedy strikes and the moment God sheds light on His purposes. For a time, we must allow others to "frame our faith" for us. Others who have survived life’s tragic turns and our brothers and sisters in Christ can offer a treasury of dependable counsel.

Deuteronomy 29:29 affirms it is God’s prerogative to keep His counsel to Himself or reveal it to us…"the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." There are secrets that God will unravel for us only later…but there are also those that He reveals to us now in His Word. This counsel doesn’t explain away God’s sovereign intentions behind personal tragedy. There will always be a mystery here that transcends human reasoning, however it does shed the light of scriptural wisdom upon our path so that we may continue on without being impeded by our pain. If we
turn our hearts toward God, that mystery will not dim, but rather strengthen our wonder and our worship.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
At last check on their memorial website, there were over 13,000 people who had offered words of prayer, love and support to the Chapmans. No doubt scores of untold others were doing the same for this precious family. If you’d like to meet Maria and express your condolences click here. To send condolences by mail, PO Box 150156 Nashville, TN 37215. In lieu of flowers, the Chapmans request any gifts be directed to Shaohannah’s Hope.

Father God, be ever near to the Chapman family. We ask for an outpouring of your grace, comfort and strength in untold measure on their behalf for the days ahead. Remind all of us that life is but a vapor that appears for just a little while. May we cherish every moment with those we love more than ever before. In the name of Christ, Amen


Lelia Chealey said...

Very beautifully shared with us Tracy. I love your heart for our Savior.

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

So well written, Tracy. I heard Joyce Meyer say that we may never live in peace unless we learn to stop asking "why." How true...because even if He did tell us the Why, I still don't think we'd understand it...thanks for this post.

Paula (SweetPea) said...

You are exactly is very hard to understand such tragedy, particularly with the details of this. I mean, when we lost my step-mom to cancer last year, I wondered why. I couldn't see the sense....same way when young adults or young children die of a disease. I guess for me in my mind, I can KIND OF rationalize that disease can strike any of us. But it seems like a tragedy of this sort, where one family member ACCIDENTALLY causes the death of another. I mean little Maria is rejoicing in Heaven but what about the brother who was driving the car? How many years of counseling will he need? Maybe none but I would think for me, even with forgiveness and realizing it was an accident, it would still haunt me forever and therefore, I feel for that brother so deeply. I hope this makes sense and comes across the way intended. I just guess I've come to accept and realize that illnesses will take the human body, whether a day old, two years or 80 years...but what seems like preventable deaths is what I struggle with. I do not believe any death to be God's will but because He is sovereign He indeed does ALLOW it. Why? We'll never know, at least this side of Heaven. Upon reaching Heaven, I don't think it will be of concern to us any longer.

Thanks for sharing your heart.

Paula (SweetPea) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Nancie said...

Thanks for sharing this lovely post, Tracy. I am praying for the Chapman family. It is our greatest comfort that God is in total control of everything and nothing happened by coincidence or accident.

Even in our losses, shall come forth some blessings to the glory of God and benefit of His children. Losses in this temporal life reminds us daily that this is not our home. We are but pilgrims here and we are walking towards the celestial city. God has His work for us to do here so that we may point sinners to Christ, encourage fellow believers and glorify God.

Thank God that if Maria belongs to the Lord, she is now safe in the arm of Jesus, no more to suffer but enjoying eternal fellowship with God. May God's comfort be upon this family and all others who are suffering in various ways.

Thanks for sharing with us. Hope you have a blessed Lord's day!

Sonya said...

Thank you for posting on my blog today. I'm glad you came by! This was a beautiful blog. You have done such a nice job of portraying God's perspective on all of this. I fully agree that at times like this we do need to lean on eachother as well as on God.

Joyful said...

Tracy, this is absolutely beautiful. It's filled with truth and hope. Our faith is often challenged at times like this, but we have to hold on to what we know and let the Lord draw us closer to Him through the pain.
Thank you for what you shared on my blog today.
Keeping my eyes fixed on Him,

Melanie said...

Such a beautiful post, Tracy, and so very true. We may never understand why God allows tragedy, but we can be assured that He will always be with thru any tragedy.

Hope you have a great holiday weekend!

Becoming Me said...

So beautiful and well-written Tracy. Thank you for sharing your heart and these messages and scripture

godlover said...

Thanks, Tracy, for a wonderful blog. I have spent the last 2 hours "linking," my term for linking of links you linked off somebody else. Your blog is beautifully written. I too tragically lost my oldest son and I know firsthand the hole that gets left in a parent's heart. Children just aren't supposed to die! So much loss; so much misery. Thanks for the link to the Chapman memorial (the video broke my heart) where I was enabled to leave my condolences. I life her brother up before the Lord and pray that his heart will be protected from any guilt. Satan loves to destroy people with guilt; it gives him some kind of sadistic thrill. But I pray that his burden will be lifted from him by our loving God.

I today was the first time I've visited your blog and I really enjoyed it. I will check it regularly.


Anonymous said...

i'm so sad to read this. I'll be praying.. having a 5 year old myself i can't imagine losing her.

Kim said...

Thanks for this encouragement from God's Word...I trust in God's sovereignty, but my flesh is asking why...what could possibly be so important to do that this would have to happen...couldn't God accomplish it in a another way? That has been my biggest question...of course, I do know that God knows what is best, but in my human frailty, I still ask why...

Natalie said...

Although media and press will fade, the pain will continue to be there for this family. Thank God that we can live with the reassurance that He is always there for us. Such and eloquent post, Tracy!

Susan said...

Wow, this is so beautiful. Thanks for taking the time to share all those wonderful scriptures and excerpts from that book!

Our hearts break with them, and know one day we will all be together again.

Blessings to you my friend,


PS Perfect song playing too!