Joy in the aftermath of murder
I had lunch last fall with Todd, a local businessman whose wife and daughter were brutally beaten to death in their home in December of 2013 by a disgruntled former employee of the man’s company.
This has been the longest 14 months of Todd’s life. Having just passed the one year anniversary of his tragic loss, his suffering is far from over. But he is determined to persevere through it because, he says, so that his character would continue to be refined by the event and so that the living Christ within him, the hope of glory, will shine brighter because of it.
Impossible, you say?
Todd agrees. This is impossible by his own strength. He would also tell you, however, that he literally could not take his next breath but for the fact that “when I am weak, He is strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Todd actually initiated our luncheon after hearing me share a prayer request in the small group Bible study where we recently met. It turns out that one of Todd’s children had been down a similar path to one of mine—the one who was the subject of my prayer request. He was anxious to share the story of his child’s miraculous turnaround in hopes of encouraging Elaine and me. Imagine that. A mere ten months after losing his wife and daughter, this grieving husband/father is taking me to lunch to see if he can put a bit more pep in my step.
Who does that?
Seriously. Wrestle with that for a moment. Who does that?
Answer: Someone who believes with all their heart: “…for this world is not our home; we are looking forward to our city in heaven, which is yet to come.” (Hebrews 13:14)
So I asked Todd, “As you’re anticipating that painful one year anniversary, I’m sure one of the voices that you’re hearing is the one saying that to be anything but despondent around that time would somehow dishonor Marylyn and Kelley’s memories. Right?”
His answered surprised me. “Maybe a little”, he said, “but it’s more knowing for certain that Marylyn and Kelley would not want me to be that way. They would want me to be joyful, knowing that they are experiencing perfect joy in heaven right now and that we will be together again someday.”
Wow. Joy in the aftermath of tragedy. This is impossible. Yet, it is happening. Why: because God is giving His joy in Todd.