Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy

Introduction

Anyone with kids is likely to immediately recognize this quote: “the world isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows” from the popular kid’s movie: Trolls. (Spoiler alert) In this scene we see the heroes of the movie (Poppy and Branch) debating the differences in how they view life. On one side a very optimistic princess. On the other, a cynical broken companion.

 

This 7-day devotional is meant to serve as a starting point for those struggling with grief and depression. Through this devotional I’ll share how I’ve experienced firsthand the fact that life isn’t always “cupcakes and rainbows” but how God has been faithful and unchanging in the darkest, most painful moments. Through the lens of Scripture and sharing the broken road I’ve traveled; my hope is to show you there is life after unthinkable tragedy.

 

As I share the story of the life and death of my daughter and wife, along with the physical, emotional, and spiritual suffering my son and I have faced, I pray that you would realize the truth God has shown me: even when life isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows, He has never left our side. My promise to you, if you are walking through unspeakable tragedy, is that although you can’t see it right now, there is life after tragedy.

 

If you are willing to open your heart and allow God to do so, He will give you a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Starting this devotion is step 1 in a series of lifelong steps that will ultimately see eternal restoration at the resurrection.

 

 

The Valley

Often I hear preachers, teachers, and speakers talk about “the valleys” of life. As they discuss the valley, the remind us that spiritually speaking this is a time in our life where God may seem distant as our suffering seems unbearable. They talk about becoming more intimate and getting to know God more in the valley than we ever could on the mountaintop, and they are right.

One thing that has often bothered me is hearing others talk about suffering in their own lives, yet feeling like they have no true perspective on real suffering. Time and time again I hear stories of times they have been in the “valley” only to think to myself… “if you only knew what a real valley is like…”

Before we all get our judgy faces out, I think these things, but never say them. The suffering each of us experience may be the worst suffering we’ve ever known. But today when I tell you that God is good, even in the valley, I need you to understand what valley I have walked through.

Often I see people say “God is good…” and I can almost hear the thoughts of those around me: “if you had walked where I’ve walked, you’d never say that.” My valley began on March 11th of 2017. If I’m being honest, the valley probably began some weeks and months before that day as I was consumed and overwhelmed by my own selfish failures.

On that tragic day, my family and I set out for vacation. Excited, looking forward to spending time together and experiencing new things. As we had so many times before, we found ourselves sitting in bumper to bumper traffic. In an instant, our lives changed forever.

I woke up inside a smoking car, blood running down in to my mouth. In a tragic moment, my four year old daughter was dead. The mother of my children would die several weeks later in the hospital. My son and I fought for life and eventually left the hospital a few months later. 

I may not be the world’s foremost expert on suffering, but I have the scars to prove that I’ve walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. I wish I could tell you that through each step in the valley I was faithful. I have not always been faithful. God however has never left my side, even when I screamed towards the heavens and demanded an answer He never promised to give.

Today I am thankful that I serve a mighty God. I serve a good God. I serve a patient, faithful God. I serve a God who enters in to my pain and suffering and doesn’t leave me in hopeless despair.

I don’t know what valley your walking through today, but you don’t have to face a step alone. Through faith in Jesus Christ we find forgiveness and reconciliation with God. It is through this faith that we have the promise that God is always with us, He will not leave us or forsake us. 

All those promises are beautifully true, but this promise is the one I want to leave you with today: Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NIV)

Are you hurting in your valley? Is your heart broken? Are you frustrated and angry? Do you feel alone? Have you been faithful but some how think God has forgotten you? Have you prayed and trusted God, but for some reason tragedy has still occurred? Trust Him. Go to Him. In your deepest despair, Jesus will meet you there and give you mercy and grace to help in your time of need.

Just Like You

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! It’s… your pastor! Or at least how most people envision the pastor and other leaders in the church.

I know… you were expecting Super Man, right? I want to share a closely guarded secret in ministry that may get me kicked out of the club: pastors are just men. Like you, or maybe your husband, or some other men you may know… they struggle with life too.

This message may seem a bit silly, but the truth of it is powerfully important. Because we place our pastors, teachers, preachers, and others in leadership on pedestals, we develop unrealistic expectations about who they are (or even who they should be). Throughout Scripture, we see again and again that an extraordinary God uses ordinary people to change the world. Because we often forget this, we may find ourselves following teachers and preachers instead of who they should be pointing us to (Jesus).

If we are following the teachers and preachers more than the God they point us to, we are going to be disappointed. Time and time again I have seen, heard, or witnessed first hand how unrealistic expectations about our pastors have hurt the lives of so many. I want to share few well kept secrets you may not know:

  • Pastors have doubts and questions too
  • Pastors have struggles in their marriages
  • Pastors struggle in their relationships with their children
  • Pastors get angry
  • Pastors get hurt
  • Pastors feel overwhelmed
  • Pastors feel unappreciated
  • Pastors are people too

Hebrews Chapter 11 is a wonderful reminder of the faithful men and women God has used throughout history to change the world. These people have one thing in common: they were chosen and used by an incredible God. They also share one other important thing in common: they were all sinners that God showed incredible kindness, mercy, and love.

I want to close with this public service announcement: pray for your pastor. Love him. Support him. Look for ways to come along side him in the work God has called him to. Pray for his spouse, his children, and be there for them all. When the time comes… when they show you they are human too: love them any way.