By now, I suspect most of you have read or heard about the incredibly painful and tragic news in what was meant to be a celebratory week for the family of Christian musician Stephen Curtis Chapman.
According to Jim Houser, Stephen’s Manager, “Just hours before this close knit family was celebrating the engagement of the oldest daughter Emily Chapman, and were just hours away from a graduation party marking Caleb Chapman’s completion of high school. Now, they are preparing to bury a child who blew out 5 candles on a birthday cake less than 10 days ago …”
As a parent, my heart aches for Steven and his wife, Mary Beth. Their youngest child – 5 year old Maria Sue (who was adopted from China) – was accidentally struck and killed in their driveway at home by an SUV driven by one of the Chapman’s teenage sons.
The Chapmans had six children of which three are adopted from China. Their foundation and ministry – Shaohannah’s Hope – advocates for international adoption.
Nevertheless, I received this note from the Chapman family:
The Chapman family is so grateful for the incredible outpouring of love and support at this difficult time.
If you’d like to meet Maria and express your condolences click here.
By mail, send to PO Box 150156 Nashville, TN 37215.
In lieu of flowers, the Chapmans request any gifts be directed to Shaohannah’s Hope.
A pastor who is a blogger wrote this, and I thought it might be an encouragement for you.
He was asked this question: “Isn’t it hypocritical for you and the Christian community to highlight the death of one child – however tragic – when so many die tragically around the world?
Here’s his wise answer:
The short answer is, “Yes, I am hypocritical and so are other Christians.” Why debate this? We are full of paradoxes and contradictions; But Christians live by Grace.
When the Scriptures say that all have fallen short of the glory of God [Romans 3.23], it meant what it said. We are utterly fallen and depraved – all of us.
Numbers do not lie. One death pales in comparison to the global news of thousands of tragic deaths in Burma [Nargis Cyclone], China [earthquake], and the daily staggering statistics of global poverty where nearly 30,000 children die daily because of poverty.
But there are stories behind numbers. Steven Curtis Chapman has influenced, encouraged, ministered, exhorted, and befriended millions of people through his music. And as a result, the death and loss of their youngest child feels close to home. Christians should must care for the suffering around the world but it shouldn’t need to apologize for mourning and grieving over Marie Sue. We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. [Romans 12.15] And we are mourning with the Chapman family.
Where is the hope in this death of Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter? How can you say God is good?
Let’s be honest here. It is hard to say, “God is good,” during situations that bring us to utter pain and desolation. But the path to hope and healing always goes through doubt, pain, anger, grief, and mourning.
But there is Hope.
There is Hope because Death Does Not Have the Final Say! While I clearly cannot speak for God, I do not believe this death was the will of God. But nevertheless, it is not outside the Sovereignty of God. Simply, God is in control. God was not surprised. He is sovereign.
There is HOPE – even in this tragedy – because it cannot separate us from the love of God that is the gospel of Christ:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:38-39]
There is HOPE because the Chapmans do not journey alone. For example, as evidenced by the millions that searched for their stories on search engines, the thousands [literally] of comments on the In Memory of Maria tribute and blog posts, people care. They Body of Christ cares. When we don’t have the courage and strength to HOPE, others HOPE for us.
There is HOPE because ultimately, God cares. He has not forgotten or forsaken. And He continues to use all circumstances and situations – even tragedies – to beckon His children and the larger creation – back unto Himself. God restores. God reconciles. God redeems. There is HOPE because there is Life beyond this world. There is HOPE because in short, there is God.
God is HOPE.