I don't really know where this post is going but feel compelled to write. I just finished watching the Steven Curtis Chapman specials on Good Morning America and Larry King. Amazing is really the only word to describe the strength of that family and the faith that they are openly professing to the world.
Several things struck me as I watched. Will Franklin, the 17-year-old brother who hit little Maria Sue, tried to run away after the accident. He stayed with Maria until his parents got outside, and then he just started running. He said he wanted to be as far away from the accident as possible. His older brother, Caleb, ran after him, tackled him, and just kept telling him that everything was going to be okay and how much he was loved. On the way to the hospital, when pulling out of the driveway, Steven had whoever was driving stop the car. He rolled down the window, and seeing Will Franklin crumpled in a ball in the driveway, he yelled to him, "Will Franklin, your father loves you!" What an image of a father's love. Through his grief over his dying little girl, he remembered his son whose grief and pain were unimaginable. He reassured him that he was loved and cherished and immediately forgiven.
Where was God during their tragedy? He was in the form of Caleb who was wrapping his arms around Will Franklin, preventing him from running away. And He was in Will's father's voice, yelling from that car window. How many times have we felt like running away and hiding from the sorrow that comes with losing a child? How many times have we wanted to escape this load that just seems too much for us to bear? And how many times has God wrapped us tight and kept us close while He yells to us, "Your Father loves you"? Over and over He says this to me. And you know, somehow, it's always enough.
Larry King asked the Chapman family if they had been angry at God. Steven replied that his anger is toward the one that has come to steal, kill, and destroy. Why would they turn their back on God? God wept with them over Maria's death. God is comforting them in their overwhelming grief. God is the one who gives them peace. God is the one who allows them to laugh and smile through the tears.
I remember laughing and making jokes that night in the hospital. Matt told me that Gabe's hair was so long, it was like a mullet. I was holding my little boy, already taken from me. I looked down into his face, smiled and said, "That's not cool baby." I joke around. It's kind of what I do, and a lot of times it's inappropriate (not the joke, but the timing), but it's what I do when I don't really know how to handle a situation, want to keep the peace or want to make someone feel better. In that moment, my God gave me a joke for my little boy. He gave me a smile and a laugh. He gave me a memory.
My God is my strength. He is the reason I can live and breathe and laugh and sing and be okay. Our war is not with God, but with Satan, who has been allowed to have some power for a little while. The joy is this: he has not won. He is a loser. The battle is already won. It's over. Jesus was victorious. Gabriel has already experienced the beautiful reward. I'm still waiting. And as I wait, my God will give me a relationship with Him, peace, hope, strength, joy, good times, and jokes to make the rest of my time here as sweet as it can be.
The point is this: His mercies are new every morning. His grace is sufficient. When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. He is with me. My cup is running over, and His goodness and mercy follow me ALL the days of my life... even when I'm in the deepest, darkest place I could possibly imagine. Praise God for His unfailing love! He will never forsake me. He will never let me go. He will always run after me, tackle me, and repeat to me, "Patrice, Your Father loves you." What a beautiful gift. What a sweet grace.
1 Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing.
2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray.
3 In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell...
...11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
12 For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.