Cupcakes and Rainbows – Life After Tragedy – Day 1

Day 1 – The Journey Begins

I’m willing to bet that for most people, true tragedy is very unexpected. On March 11th 2017, my life changed forever. The day began with excitement and anticipation as my family and I loaded up the car for a spring break trip to San Antonio from Dallas. Looking forward to an exciting vacation with my 4 year old daughter Brynleigh, 8 year old son Kasen, and my wife Cassie, we set out early that morning.

 

As we had hundreds of times before, we pulled out on to the highway without a second thought to what the next few hours held. “I love you” I told my wife Cassie as we set in bumper to bumper traffic caused by a wreck ahead. Just a few hours in to our trip, we sat waiting completely stopped because of the traffic ahead of us.

 

I awoke to the smell of smoke, unable to see, totally stunned with chaos all around me. Hearing the moans of pain from my wife beside me, I unbuckled myself from my seat belt. What just happened? Time both stood still and raged forward all at the same time. As I opened my door and stepped outside, I realized the truth… we were in a car wreck.

 

As I walked around outside the car still dazed and unable to come to my senses, men and women swarmed around our car. “Sir, please sit down, your neck may be broken” the first responder said to me. “Please, save my family” I pleaded, realizing this wasn’t just a fender bender. As I heard the first responders talking about the occupants in the vehicle, I remember saying “her name is Brynleigh, she is 4. His name is Kasen, he is 8. Her name is Cassie, she is my wife.”

 

As the rain fell on me outside the car, sitting still unable to come fully to my senses outside the car, I could taste the blood streaming in to my mouth, struggling to breathe. In that moment as the first responders spoke, I came to the realization (call it a father’s intuition), that my precious Brynleigh had left this life. Although in that moment no one told me (I only found out later), I said a prayer “Lord, I know you took Brynleigh, please have mercy on my family.”

 

Today, I don’t know what pain and heartache you’re suffering through. What I know is that years after the accident, thinking about it still causes a torrent of emotions to swell up inside. Pain, grief, heartache, sadness, regret, I can barely compose myself. I don’t say this to cause you any more pain, I say this to start this devotion with honesty.

 

The first step in this journey is to truly realize how broken and how hurt you truly are. Scripture teaches us that God opposes the proud but that He exalts the humble. I can think of no greater way to humble ourselves than being totally vulnerable and honest with God about our grief. I have found myself many times over the past few years praying something like this: “God, I am so angry at You. I’m sorry I’m so angry Lord, please have mercy on me.”

 

In our realization of the true depth of our brokenness, there is only one place (rather One person) who can truly make as whole again. Today’s study will take us to two truths in the New Testament:

 

First we will read how because Jesus was like us in every way, that He can sympathize with our weakness. This is truly profound, because Jesus was fully human He felt every ache, every pain, every emotion, faced the same trials, temptations, and heartache. Because of this, there is nothing we can face that Jesus isn’t intimately aware of. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

 

Second we will read about the kind of humble prayers that God is looking for. In this Scripture we will look at two different approaches to prayer and how two radically different men approached Him. In this Scripture we will see that is those who are truly honest with themselves and God who “go down to their house justified”. (Luke 18:10-14)

 

Today’s prayer: Father, we need you. We confess that without You we can never truly be whole. Jesus please hold us in the midst of our pain and suffering. Although we are sitting in the middle of a storm we can’t control, we know that You can. Give us peace and help us feel Your presence. We need you Jesus. Thank you for never leaving us or forsaking us. Thank you God for hearing our prayers, in Jesus name.

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.