September 15, 2020

Great Loss Great God

Written by Shana Schutte

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 15, 2020

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Psalm 46:1-3

There are times in all of our lives where we are pressed into difficult places and we have a choice to trust the Lord or turn away from him. My friend Rick Webster is well-acquainted with the strength it takes to say yes to God when life is hard. 

During a ski trip in West Virginia with his family in 2000, he had no idea that he would soon need to make the choice to trust God as never before.

When Rick’s ten-year-old daughter, Emily, broke her leg on the slopes, he gently placed her in the back of their SUV so she could lie down during the drive home. Joni, Rick’s wife, joined Emily in the back seat to keep her company; and later, for the first time, Rick and his wife agreed to allow their toddler, Gabriel, to ride unsecured in the back with them for the last few miles of the trip.

Half an hour from home, Rick daydreamed about sending his children to a Christian camp when they were older—and that’s the last thing he remembers. Approximately eight hours later, when he woke up in a hospital, he didn’t know he had driven into a tree. He also didn’t know that Joni, Emily, and Gabriel had received massive head injuries and that they were all in critical condition.

Rick believes that God erased his memory about the accident because of His great mercy. “Otherwise, I would have suffered from a lot of guilt, and I’m certain I wouldn’t have been able to handle it. I believe I would have ended my life.”

The night after the accident, Gabriel went home to be with Christ. The next day, Emily followed her little brother to heaven, and Joni died that evening.

Amazingly, Rick chose not to turn his back on God. “It was definitely a choice,” he says. “I had to ask myself, ‘Am I going to turn away from God or am I going to draw near to Him?’ I chose to draw near.”

When I spoke with Rick about the tragedy that took his family, he said that in the months prior to the accident, he spent time in the mornings meditating on God’s truth. The Lord reminded Rick of His love and about his identity in Christ. He is confident that this was critical to how he responded to the trauma. “Because I’d been spending time with God when the accident happened, my faith was driven into the bedrock,”—and like Christ in Matthew 4:1-10, Rick withstood the temptation to turn from his Father.

It quickly became obvious to Rick that God was in control of the accident and his life. “Even though I was devastated, I knew I had survived because God still had a plan for me, but my family’s purpose on earth was done.” Even though Rick didn’t know it at the time, part of that purpose was later become a new husband to Tara and a father again to two children. “God showed me that I didn’t have to understand why He took Joni, Emily, and Gabriel. My job was to trust Him.”

Because of Rick’s humility and decision to trust, he experienced increased faith and hope rather than feelings of betrayal and despair. As suggested by Acts 14:22, the kingdom of God grew in Rick’s heart through tribulation.

You and I will inevitably come to many crossroads where we’ll need to make the choice to trust God. The good news is that Jesus told John that blessings are available when we choose trust over feeling betrayal or falling into sin. Scripture also promises that those who hold unswervingly to hope, and who do not throw away their confidence, will be richly rewarded (Hebrews 10:23).

“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe” (Proverbs 18:10).

Prayer

Lord, when I am pressed into difficult and narrow places, help me to trust you when I am in the fiercest part of the storm. Help me to hold tight to you knowing that my trial is not the end of my story and that you see me and are doing a work that I don’t understand. Amen.


Application

If you are experiencing a trial today, talk with the Lord and ask Him for strength to endure. Then, like Rick, choose to trust Jesus.


Related Reading

Isaiah 41:10; Psalm 9:9-10; Exodus 15:2

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