Friday, May 23, 2008

"We can grieve with hope"

The Chapman Family - Maria is sitting on Steven's lap

These are the words of a Steven Curtis Chapman song that have been resonating in my mind since I got the heartbreaking news Wednesday evening that his youngest daughter, Maria, had been accidentally struck and killed by the family vehicle her teenage brother was backing out of the driveway at their home. Maria had just turned 5 and was the Chapman’s third adopted daughter from China. Steven and his wife Mary Beth had already adopted two orphan girls and thought they were done until Steven met Maria on one of his many trips to an orphanage in China. There was a mutual admiration and special bond that formed between him and this little girl and soon the Chapmans were convinced that Maria was meant to be part of their family and brought her into their loving fold. These lyrics “we can grieve with hope” refer to the way that Christians view death of one of God’s children. In 1 Thess.4:13 Paul tells us not to be uninformed in the matter of those who have died, and exhorts us not to “grieve as those who have no hope.” As Christians, we have the distinct hope of knowing that those who have died in Christ are in heaven and that we will see them again someday. In Maria’s case, the bible also makes it very clear that little children have a special provision to go to heaven, should they die too young to have been put their trust in Christ. So we do grieve, for this is indeed heartbreaking, but we can grieve with hope. Praise God.

As I read the headlines yesterday, “tragic accident” was often reporters’ phrase of choice. Yes, it was an accident in the sense that it was obviously not intentional or desired to happen, but that is merely the way we as human beings think. We wish with all our hearts that this had not happened! But, this is not the mind of God. There are no accidents in His economy. Not one. Everything that happens was perfectly planned by Him before the foundation of the earth and is for our good and His glory. The word tragic carries an implication that something was a mistake. Again, God doesn’t make mistakes so we must train our minds to view matters the way God does when these types of situations present themselves.

“It’s time for letting go of all of our ‘if onlys’, cause we don’t have a time machine. And even if we did, would we even want to use it – would we really want to go change everything?”

These lyrics come from a recent song of Steven’s, and is certainly applicable here as well. If only Maria hadn’t been where she was. If only her brother had seen her when he backed out the car. If only she were still in China... If only, if only, if only...then this wouldn't have happened. The reality is, God wanted Maria's life to end on May 21, 2008, and planned the circumstances in which it was to happen. Her being in the driveway was actually a divine appointment. That was the means He used to bring her into His loving, heavenly arms. We should rejoice that God’s perfect will was done and we must agree with all our hearts that God, and He alone, is the only one wise and worthy enough to plan the events of our lives.

Well, we of course we know all this, but oh, how my heart aches for the Chapmans right now. We had the opportunity to meet Steven, Mary Beth, Caleb and Will Franklin in New York last month. They are very special people. Having lost Brady, I can certainly know to some extent how they are feeling right now – but also having to deal with their teenage son and all he must be going through is going to be difficult. He is just a teenager – but I pray that God would grant this boy the spiritual maturity and firmness in his faith beyond his years to be able to deal with this. There would obviously be a huge sense of guilt and personal responsibility added to him in addition to the already deep grief and sadness over the loss of his little sister. I pray for Steven and Mary Beth that God would grant them great wisdom in helping their son understand God’s sovereignty and purpose. May they love their son deeply, lead him rightly, and may he know the type of peace, love, and forgiveness that only comes from knowing Christ.

Steven’s music has been a great benediction in my life, and I now pray that all the many lyrics he has composed from God’s word will come back to his own heart and minister directly to him. I believe that God has prepared him for this and I am actually excited to see the way God is going to use this in his life and music. He is obviously in a position where the world is watching him go through this, and there is great potential, I believe, for God to strengthen the worldwide church through this, as well as bring many to salvation through Steven’s testimony of God’s grace and love in the midst of such deep suffering. May the brief but special little life of Maria Sue Chapman be used to bring great glory to God. Though I know she has undoubtedly already made a huge mark on the Chapmans in the short time they had her, I think still much of the impact of her life lies yet to be fulfilled in them, as well as in all of us.

For more, you can visit

From Steven's song, Much of You:

I want to make much of You, Jesus
I want to make much of Your love
I want to live today to give You the praise
That You alone are so worthy of
I want to make much of Your mercy
I want to make much of Your cross
I give You my life
Take it and let it be used
To make much of You


Dodson Family said...

Karen - what a blessing that you wrote this. Thanks for sharing it. It is wise to remember God's sovereignty in everything in our lives - from "tragedy" to the mundane. He is in control and that is what we always need to rest in. My mom always says God is Good ALL the time even when it makes no sense to us. Anyway - thanks so much - this totally ministered to me...

Drollingers said...

HI Karen- Great thoughts and excellent reminder of God's sovereignty in this situation. While we grieve, I too am excited to see what God does through this.

We burned several of his songs, including "The Blessing" from his album "Musical Blessings" for the Muxlows when they went through you said, it's amazing that he will now be able to playback some of his songs for himself.

John Drollinger