This Beautiful Inheritance: How We Know God is Good (even in tragedy)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

How We Know God is Good (even in tragedy)

I feel like the past couple of months have been packed to the brim with tragedy. I'm not sure if there's really been more tragedies than usual or if I'm just noticing each one more.

In the same day, we lost a six-year-old in our town and 20 in Newtown. A couple weeks later, I learned about Ann Reese. Do you know her? Ann Reese was the almost-three-year-old daughter of an Alabama couple who died on Christmas Eve in a tragic swing set accident. Her story spread through Facebook, where her family posts daily updates and photos celebrating her life. The same day I learned about Ann Reese, I learned that a sweet and kind elderly woman I used to work with lost her husband and granddaughter in an auto accident. The granddaughter was 10. And about a week ago, a sweet friend of mine delivered a baby girl whose umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck twice. The baby went without oxygen for 10 minutes and was transported to a larger hospital with a grim prognosis for recovery.

Amy and Davey Grote with a picture of  their daughter, Ann Reese (credit:

Each of these stories has shaken me to the core. Being a mom has made me more emotional on any subject, but when I hear about kids suffering or dying, it's almost too much.

Through all the heartache, though, I have seen God as Real, and as Present, and as Good as ever. How can that be, you ask? Where is His Goodness in the midst of death and suffering? To see it, all you have to do is watch those who know Him -- who truly know Him -- in the midst of their pain. He sustains like no other. A week and a half after Ann Reese died, her mother gave birth to her baby sister. She wrote this on her Facebook page the day after her baby was born.

As I woke up this morning, I remembered we are going home today. Back to our house where Ann Reese's memory will be the strongest. Her newly decorated "BIG girl" room... Her under the stairs toy closet jammed packed with babies, princess dress up clothes, coloring books, and her favorite building blocks... It brought tears to my eyes thinking of trying to go home to all her things and starting a new normal. Then, I looked in my arms and saw the most perfect gift that God knew we needed. I smiled as the tears fell down my face. Thank you Jesus for baby Jane. Such a bitter sweet moment. Then, I looked outside and saw the sun coming up, and the sky had a pink tinge of color. I suddenly felt Ann Reese's presence and a sense of peace knowing she was HOME. She'd never be in our home with her family again, but she is and will forever be in our Father's home. Nothing here on earth can compare to that. I remembered this verse and joy filled my heart knowing that Ann Reese is in her Father's home and will be waiting for us to come home to her one day. As we take Jane home, I'll think of Ann Reese in Heaven, singing with the angels, waiting for us to come HOME.

John 14:2 "In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you."

Amy, Ann Reese's mom, posts updates like this daily. Her strength is astonishing. But it shouldn't be, because it comes from Him. He is good, and her strength is just evidence of that. Because of who God is, Amy continues to share the strength He gives and inspire the more than 30,000 people who "like" their Facebook page. (If you haven't liked it yet, you should do so.)

And she's not an isolated example. My friend Candice, who has spent the last week being told her new baby could face death, brain damage, cerebral palsy, etc., has exhibited the same, amazing, God-given strength. Candice also posts daily Facebook updates. And no matter what hurdle or piece of news that she and her husband are given, she is clear about what they believe, "God is good. No matter what." She says it like she believes it. Because she does. Because it's true.

(God is also answering prayers for this sweet baby, who was discovered today to have no brain damage -- a miracle!)

Only He could give that kind of soul-anchoring Hope. That unshakable, unbreakable hope.

Tuesday night I watched the livestream of the "Hope and Healing" concert in Bridgeport, CT. A host of Christian artists sang songs of eternal hope to minister to that hurting community. One of those artists was Steven Curtis Chapman. As most of you know, he lost his young daughter in a tragic accident almost five years ago. He knows pain. But he also knows hope. I am never more encouraged in my faith and more sure of the God I serve than when I hear this man share his story. He still cries every time. He doesn't have all the answers. But his faith is rock-solid. It's based, not on circumstances, but on the character of God. And He. Is. Good.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

"The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace."
Psalm 29:11

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