Over and over again as my wife Michelle and I have walked through difficult life circumstances, and helped others going through loss, it seems that God graciously gives us glimpses of His comfort and concern in the middle of it all. It's as if God is saying, "I've set the universe in motion, and pain and death are a inescapable result of sin and separation from Me. But I hear your cries, I weep with you and nothing will separate my great love from you."
A few years ago, my wife's cousin Kent passed away. Her family is super close, so it was a painful experience not just for Kent's parents and sister, but for all of us. Kent was the life of the party and brought smiles to everyone he met.
You may have also heard of the story of Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman, his wife Mary Beth Chapman and their beautiful family. Over the past several years they have been walking through incredible grief after the loss of their adopted daughter Maria in a tragic accident. They deeply loved Maria and Steven Curtis had written a song for her, titled "Cinderella."
Mary Beth has since written a book Choosing to See about walking through this painful journey and how God has given them beautiful glimpses of His mercy as they've walked through this tragedy.
Their story of hope has been so meaningful to our family as we have walked through our own great loss.
Amazingly, in the last year, God has given us the opportunity to talk with both of them personally at two separate events.
At a women's conference Michelle helped direct in April 2010, Mary Beth Chapman was a keynote speaker. It was the first time she had spoken at a large conference. She now speaks regularly for large conferences around the country. Michelle along with her aunt Tami got to chat with Mary Beth and were so grateful for this personal meeting.
At a music festival in outstate Minnesota a few months later, where I was preaching several times, Steven Curtis Chapman was ending one of the nights with a concert on the main stage. I was sharing briefly with the crowd before he went on and Michelle got to share our story with him as he was doing his vocal warm-ups.
It was nothing short of amazing that we had these two opportunities to thank them for sharing their story of God's hope in the midst of great pain. It's as if God had planned it just for us! For our family, Steven Curtis and Mary Beth's story of hope and "choosing to see" God's mercy in the pain of this world has been nothing short of healing.