Sunday, December 30, 2012

Whose Children are These?

Ever answer the phone and the person on the other end starts the conversation with, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but..."? Yeah, that always sucks.

On December 21, our good friend Ryan called to say that a young dad from our church, Dave, had died that morning as he was jogging to work. Four days before Christmas. He was 38. He left behind his wife, Holly, and three kids, Spencer, Leah and Maci.

They they had just finished adopting Maci from Ethiopia last March. If you know anything about how Ethiopian adoptions have gone recently, you know that wasn't an easy process. But they had weathered it. Maci is theirs. Exactly one week before Dave died, I asked Holly how things were going. Had Maci adjusted to being here, to being part of their family? Yes, Holly said, things have finally settled down.

And now this.

It's so tempting to ask God why? right now. (Remember all of the hubbub about the Mayan calendar and the world ending on December 21, 2012? I just keep thinking, "For Holly and her kids, the world really did end.") But God has given me another question instead: Whose children are these?

The same day Dave died, my parents attended a funeral for the mother of one of my high school classmates. I was sad about that, but I didn't cry when my mom told me. And she didn't cry when I told her about Dave. But we both shed tears for the situation closest to us. Josh and I both felt like Dave's death really consumed our lives that day, and sobered us for many days after.

So that made me think about how God "gives" us the griefs of those close to us. If, every time someone posted a tragic story on Facebook, I received and felt that grief the way I did with the news about Dave, I literally wouldn't be able to function. God doesn't allow us to carry every grief. But he asks us to carry the griefs of those he put next to us, and he especially asks us to care for widows and orphans. In other words, these are now our children ... the children of the body of Christ immediately surrounding this family.

I have been astounded at how our church family has responded. Two days after Dave died, about thirty guys around our age got together to talk about how to help cover all of the things that Dave did at home. Obviously, they can't be husband to Holly, and they can't be dad to Spencer, Leah and Maci, but they can do a lot to help keep the bottom from dropping out.

We're thinking about how our family fits into that...

Holly had started a blog to chronicle their adoption story, and now she's using it to pour out her heart about their grief. Follow their story.

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