Boldness about the truth of Jesus Christ is what should set Christians apart. However, far too often what sets us apart are opinions on fairly insignificant things. Then, when tragedy strikes, we struggle to gain a footing, and we struggle even harder gaining a voice in an otherwise chaotic scene.
The truth of Jesus Christ makes clear how we can respond to tragedy. His presence makes clear the otherwise unknowable peace that believers have. Jesus is the reason we can distinguish hope on the horizon regardless of the trials that are presently surrounding us.
Dannie and Jordan Greg made that fact very clear to me as we worked to tell their story in Breaking Through the Clouds. Jesus was the only thing that they could see in the darkness of losing their son Cotton, but He was also the only refuge to which they could run.
I had never imagined such pain. I had never thought my heart could feel this way. It felt like my heart was being stabbed over and over and left to bleed. I thought, “My baby boy is really gone.”
I prayed the only thing that came to my lips: “Oh, God, be with me, I need you. Give me the strength to go through this. Hold my Cotton tight. I’m holding You to Your word that I will see him again.”
Dannie’s immediate response to learning that the doctors could not save her little boy was to run to the arms of Jesus.
What is it about this Jesus that leads me to believe that there is actually hope in the midst of tragedy?
The answer comes from the words of Jesus himself. As recorded by the writer of the gospel of John, Jesus responds to the death of a close friend of his. Jesus was being confronted for the fact that he had not arrived in time to save Lazarus, and therefore had failed his friend. But knowing what he would eventually do on the cross, Jesus took the opportunity to display that he was not only the healer of the sick, he was the giver of life. Jesus proved that he was able to do what no other in existence could do. He was about to break the bonds of death, and give life to those who believe.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…” John 11:25-26a
Dannie and Jordan could look to Jesus, because they were assured of his eternal nature. They found hope in his answer because he had proven that he was not shackled by death.
The darkness of that night was interrupted by the eternal light emanating from the person of Jesus Christ, across time and across space. Jesus’ light pierced the darkness of pain and doubt, cutting through a situation that seemed to be an epic loss, but that was revealed to be a brief separation.
For the promise we have in Jesus is that we, like little Cotton, will never die!
Some could receive such a question as antagonistic, but there is a real opportunity woven into it. Such a bold question demands a bold response. Bold enough to look past tragedy and see hope. Bold enough to look past loss and find gain. Bold enough to peer through the vale of deception and encounter truth. Even bold enough to see past the temporary notion of death, and realize the reality of eternal life.
I would like to answer that question over the next few posts. Why should a person read Breaking Through the Clouds? In short, because Jesus wins!
But first, I think it’s best that you get to know a little bit about the people behind the story.
Jordan and Dannie are members of our church, and in the summer of 2013 they lost their youngest son in a drowning accident at their home. This couple had not known the Lord long at the time, but was so filled by the Holy Spirit that they were able to walk through such unimaginable heartbreak. Simply taking another step after experiencing calamity like this is all but impossible for some. As Jordan and Dannie tried to put one foot in front of the other, it became apparent to them the Lord was abiding in those moments, just as he had promised.
Startled by how close the Holy Spirit was in those days, Dannie began to try to put into words the feeling of loss, and the assurance that God had not abandoned them. Such a task is difficult in the best of circumstances, but is an almost impossible endeavor after losing a child. Dannie put words to paper. First on the internet as she told people how she and her family were coping with their loss, but then began to tell the story. Connecting the dots of a tragedy can be an effective way to cope with loss, and Dannie was trying to get to the next dot.
In the fall of 2013, I was teaching Dannie to play the piano. It was something she had always wanted to do, and it helped her to focus her mind for a few minutes each day on something that didn’t remind her of her son. I had recently published a book about spiritual growth, and tried to supply wisdom from my own publishing mistakes and successes whenever Dannie asked.
I read the first draft of her story and made some suggestions, but Dannie continued to ask for more help, and more involvement from me. After several conversations, and after praying for several weeks, I agreed to invest myself in the book as a co-author.
We started from the beginning creating back-story, and filling in the blanks left by the previous drafts. Our primary goal was to show how Jesus was enough for any circumstance. Time and time again, Jesus was catapulted into a place of honor, simply by the way he supplied himself to Jordan and Dannie in their deepest need. It was an amazing process of writing, but what was more amazing was the fact that the Lord was so evident throughout the story that we could not help but worship him.
What more amazing testimony could there be of a person’s life, than for every scene to direct the reader’s attention to Jesus?
Jesus is the star of the story. He is the focus of the book. Jesus was enough in the beginning, and he is enough today. The realization of all of this compels me to worship him. Even now as I reflect on the process of writing Breaking Through the Clouds, I am entreated to worship again.
How lovely it is to be able to worship such a beautiful savior!