Friday, May 23, 2008

The Lesson of "All things" continues

Questions. Unanswered questions. Pain. Anger. Confusion.

Where was God Wednesday evening around 5pm when precious little Maria Chapman was struck and killed accidentally by a car driven by her brother? God could have intervened in countless ways. The car could have unexplainably stopped. He could have allowed her brother to see her before it was too late. He could have kept her from being in the pathway of death. He could have acted in a number of miraculous ways - and yet - He didn't. Why?

God's plans are not our plans. Can we possibly see the truth of "all things working together for good" in the face of such tragedy? I try to reason God's plan in this. Maybe little Maria's life would have held a devastating diagnosis. Maybe she would have rejected salvation or wandered from the Lord. Maybe her life would have held addiction, alcoholism, abuse and God was sparing her tremendous hardships. For these reasons, her death is a little easier to understand - but, I don't know that any of this would have been true. I'm writing my own story around her life, trying to guard myself from the coldness that wants to envelop my heart towards a God who would be that cruel to a family who devoted their lives to serving and honouring Him.

I cannot begin to imagine their grief. My own tears have flowed, unchecked, spilling from a heart overcome with pain. The thought of life ever being "normal" again for the Chapmans must seem impossible...unfathomable. Daily they will face reminders of their sweet daughter, whose life was stolen before it's time. Before...my time...not God's time.

Several years ago I had a motto: "I'm going to thrive in 2005". I wanted my life to exemplify and give witness to the verse, that Christ came to give us life - and give it to the full. I wanted to travel from insecurity to confidence. From fear to faith. From inadequacy to accomplishment. From worthless to value. I had dreams of moving from the mundane to the miraculous. I was going to live life abundantly. I was going to thrive!

But, what about when surviving alone is the great success? Beth Moore writes, "Sometimes life is so atrocious that surviving is its own great achievement and a strange proof of sorts that God must exist." Have you ever considered surviving in itself a crowning achievement? Maybe some of you reading this right now are all to familiar with this concept. Maybe you are hanging on by a thread, but at least you're hanging on. You have been dealt a bitter blow - one not expected, that hit you on the blind side. Maybe your loss has been great. Possibly you are walking a living death. A phone call. A letter. A financial setback. A betrayal. Life can change in an instant.

In mere seconds the Chapman family has been changed forever. Laughter that filled their home has suddenly become a stranger. How can they celebrate their oldest daughter's engagement and their sons high school graduation this weekend? How can they be expected to give thanks in all things? How can they keep serving Him?

BECAUSE GOD IS GOOD. The things allowed to touch our lives are not always good, but that doesn't change God's character. God is good! Am I trusting God because of His blessings? Have I got a qualifer on my relationship with Him? Lord, if You bless me, then I will love, serve and follow You. I can't place conditions on God. He grieves with us in our pain. He cherishes our tears and treasures them. He knows our struggle, as One well-acquainted with sorrow.

The answers I seek may never come this side of heaven. Will my faith still stand? Yes, because the same God who is now holding Maria in His arms, is holding my life in His hands, and although I will never fully understand His plans I can trust His heart.

19 comments:

Tammy said...

What an awesome post! My heart just grieved for the Chapman family when I found out yesterday morning what had happened. Your post summed up everything I was feeling so beautifully! You truly have a gift!

I just started to blog and I've already thought about writing about my older sister. She past away very unexpectedly 14 years ago at the age of 28. I didn't understand why God allowed it to happen, but I got through it because I knew God always has a plan and He knows what is best. As a result of her passing, I have been able to help others who have lost a loved one. I was especially able to comfort those who lost a child because I imagined that the Lord called my sister home because He needed help with all the babies in heaven. My sister LOVED children. She left 4 children here on earth, but she also has 5 of her own with her in heaven. I was able to share a little bit with hurting mothers who had lost a child about my sister and that I was sure she was taking care of their child for them until they were called home. Your post just made me really think about my sister and I guess God used it to help me see that I need to go ahead and start writing a post about her and not put it off anymore. Who knows, maybe someone will read my blog and be comforted.

Thanks again for being such a wonderful witness of our Lord and Savior through every post you write! May God bless you!

Paula (SweetPea) said...

This is a very nice post. You posed many questions that I'm sure many folks are facing right now. As I type this I ponder on the thought that we must also pray for those unbelievers (and believers) who may hear of this and either turn from God or further confirm to not follow a God who would allow such injustice in such a devout Christian family. I have faith that the Chapman family will stay faithful to God. But what about those outsiders of our faith in Christ who look in and say we are crazy for serving a God who ALLOWs such terrible thing to happen to His own faithful children. It is true that when such unjust things happen it will make us bitter or better. Our faith is a blind faith...that is we don't understand but we continue to believe in the God we know to be good and loving. To know God is to know He is not unjust and He is not cruel in His ways. To know God is to know He has a plan for the Chapmans and a reason He ALLOWED this. I capitalized ALLOW to emphasis that He did not "kill" or "make" this happen. To me at least, there is a difference in Him allowing and making things happen.

You brought up very good points or reasons that God may have allowed this for Maria. We must consider also what this might do for the brother driving the vehicle or even the other family members or even mass people around the world watching this story. You know what I mean? How many lives will be changed for good, how many lives will be committed to God? Maybe this will do something even stronger in the life of the brother. We just never know the ripple effect of what one instance will do for the Kingdom of God.

I love your statement:
Have you ever considered surviving in itself a crowning achievement?

My answer is...ABSOLUTELY. I've felt guilty for it also but I can't help it. I think I'm mostly past that desperate stage of feeling just to wake up is a huge accomplishment but it's still a struggle and I still feel many days that I am just "faking" or just "going through the motion". There are days and times I have absolute peace but those days are not consistent nor are they in full but rather little chunks of time.

Instances such as the Chapmans impounds my guilt for living through the motions, yet, even upon such tragedy, I cannot tell my broken heart not to be broken and to live life fully. Part of my heart is across the bridge with the love of my life.

Thanks for sharing and allowing me to share about the Chapmans and also my own pain and desire to try to live life to the fullest for Christ.
Lovingly,
Paula

I hope to be posting this weekend so stop in a few days.

Tracy said...

Beautifully spoken, Joy.

I too cried many tears yesterday on behalf of the precious Chapman family, agonizing over the same questions you raise...even wondering Lord, if you wanted to take Maria, why do so in such a way that would cause only deeper grief on the part of her family, particularly her brother?

Today, there is still pain, heartbreak and questions, but reminders (like yours) that God is grieving and aching for them even more than we are is truly a comfort. So very true, He is certainly no stranger to sorrow. The one who holds our lives (and that of Maria) is one who has proven His love by enduring His own excrutiating loss, that we might live. There is no heart more trustworthy than His.

Blessings,
Tracy

Catherine said...

Beautifully written Joy. So many questions...so few answers. Trusting God even when we don't understand the why's.

Praying for this precious family who are never far from many of our thoughts these days.

Yolanda said...

Joy:

THIS IS AWESOME! Raw and real....and simply shows the sovereignty of the God you and I serve!

Blessed be His Name Girlfriend!

Love you,
Yolanda

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Beatufil facelift....where did you get this? Did you have to buy it or pay for someone to do it?

Kelley said...

Joy,
I love every word you have said here! Even the thoughts about "why" make me think a little differently. But it's true, the fact is God is good and the pain we feel pains Him too. Yes, it seems more and more that surviving is in itself an achievement but praise God that our lives on this earth are but a vapor. Even so Lord Jesus, "come soon"!!!

Love you my friend,
Kelley

Marilyn said...

I'm pretty much speechless. So many things to think about. So many directions to go with this. I'm sure most of us will never know why things happen....or don't happen....to us here in this life. "But HE is faithful!" And what a wonderful promise that is!

Marilyn

By the way.....beautiful new decorating job on your blog!

Michelle said...

Very well written post Joy, you have asked the same questions I did when I heard.

Your Blog looks beautiful by the way, absolutly perfect for YOU!

Did you get my email this week that I will be there on Tuesday this week? Just don't want to shock you when I arrive ;) Oh and Joshua did get a haircut, but the biggest difference is that he has decided to start wearing it 'spikey'

Catherine said...

Ohhh...what a pretty new blog Joybells! So you!!

Whoever helped you with it did a great job!!

Joyful said...

Catherine (aka CATHY) ....you made me laugh that you instantly assumed I had help with this new blog design! You know me TOO WELL!!!!

grey like snuffie said...

I'm thankful that God thinks each moment, each breath is monumental. We look for big things, for reassurances of life's value, for what should be. I think God looks at moments as life changers, each breath a gift to be in awe of--we miss so much because of our narrow view. We want to make sense of life. The only thing that makes sense is Him---and we don't really get Him--some day we will see clearly. And "why not", God is not surprised by anything that thunders through our lives. It is so hard to quit thinking like a human and press in to know His heart, to see a circumstance as He does. All things pass through His hands and that is hard for us to reconcile sometimes. We had a Chapman tragedy happen in our church. A father accidently ran over his 2 year old daughter. It's been an amazing journey of God's grace, mercy and redemption. 20 some years later, it is still very hard and they have been forever changed yet they know God to be all they needed to keep moving on. If we are His, we can always say, "it is well with my soul". Our hearts cry out for more as we wrestle with grasping that gift. "It is well". His ways are not our ways, but boy, we keep trying to make sense. "Draw near to Him and He will draw near to me". Life seems to cause us to draw near. To sit with Him until His peace settles over us--worship and adore Him.

Thankful said...

Beautiful JoybellS....look out the "other one" is up and running!!!
love ya sis

Leah said...

What a powerful and transparent post!! Thank you so much for sharing from you heart! I think so many people are grieving for the Chapmans and I know that God will hold them tightly in the coming days. Only when we get on the other side of eternity will we know of God's reasons for allowing thing like this to happen. Until then we walk by faith and not by sight and we trust that His heart is good and wise.

Leah

Holly said...

HI Joy -
love this post too. You're right - sometimes just surviving is all we can do at the time...
Blessing to you -
love,
holly

Tammy said...

Joy, I just wanted you to know that I did do a post about my sister. Two of her kids so far have read it and both of them have thanked me for writing it.

MrsJoeB said...

And that is all we can do is TRUST Him in all things.

Your blod site is beautiful!! Kelley and you have done beautiful work!!

In His Graces~Pamela

Sheryl said...

"Surviving in itself is a crowning achievement". That's where I am right now. Surviving...but I know God is walking this journey with me. He knew what laid ahead for me, good thing I didn't.

I have just begun to read your blog, so there will probably be more comments comments.

You're a very gifted writer. Keep on!!

-Sheryl

sumi said...

Amen! It all comes down to trusting his heart. If I didn't know how merciful, tender, and kind he is, I would be floundering right now under the burden of my own loss.

But, like my hubby quoted once: "Those who know thy name will put their trust in thee". God's name refers to his character, his goodness, his abundant lovingkindness, who he is. We can trust him, because we know him.