Steven and Mary Beth Chapman's precious little girl Maria was killed last night in a terrible accident. And as the news travels across the country and the world, Christians will accept the shock in different ways - some with great sorrow as if it were our own family or neighbor. Some less personally, but with just as much sadness. But we will all collectively mourn. Most of us from a distance - with only our own precious children surrounding us to hold and have and love for today.
An accident like this truly is -- in every sense of the word -- a tragedy for this family. The Chapmans are a family that loves family. The family was in fact celebrating family when the accident happened - an engagement and a graduation. And because they are such a remarkable family, and becuase Steven's music and spirit are so loved thoughout the Christian-Music world, there are countless other families grieving today. Grieving as if this tragedy were thier own. I am one.
If you've heard the story of how Steven and Mary Beth met, then you know that "You've Got Mail" was not just a 1998 romantic comedy. Steven Curtis Chapman and Mary Beth Chapman shared a mailbox at Anderson College in Anderson, Indiana. I was the mailbox neighbor on their right who watched the romance unfold. I knew them both and we were friends - so I feel a certain kinship to them. I will mourn with them . . . from a distance. As is the case with so many people who come and go in our lives, we've lost touch over the years. So I watch this tragedy afar like most of you. I watch it as a friend. I watch with great sorrow. I watch it as a parent. I watch it as a Christian. Many Christians -- and non-Christians alike -- will be watching - watching to see how Christians deal with tragedy, and . . .
I cannot help but think of a song that Steven wrote several years ago in the midst of grieving the loss of another child - the child of a dear friend.
This is not at all how
We thought it was supposed to be
We had so many plans for you
We had so many dreams
And now you've gone away
And left us with the memories of your smile
And nothing we can say
And nothing we can do
Can take away the pain
The pain of losing you, but ...
We can cry with hope
We can say goodbye with hope
'Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
And we can grieve with hope
'Cause we believe with hope
(There's a place by God's grace)
There's a place where we'll see your face again
We'll see your face again
And never have I known
Anything so hard to understand
And never have I questioned more
The wisdom of God's plan
But through the cloud of tearsI see the
Father's smile and say well done
And I imagine you
Where you wanted most to be
Seeing all your dreams come true
'Cause now you're home
And now you're free, and ...
We have this hope as an anchor
'Cause we believe that everything
God promised us is true, so ...
So we can cry with hope
And say goodbye with hope
We wait with hope
And we ache with hope
We hold on with hope
We let go with hope
In Deuteronomy 31:7-8, God promises to be with those whom He gives a difficult trial. Romans 14:8 tells us that life and death are in the Lord's hands and that He is gracious and fair and doesn't do anything without reason. Psalm 115:16 reminds us that the death of God's children is precious to Him.... that He loves them far more than we could ever imagine, and His grief is much deeper.
God mourns today. . .