Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I am assured that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28)

Donnie Boyer Crotty was a great kid.  My son, Brian, remembers him when he was younger as being really hyper and really loud.  That was because Donnie was so full of a zeal for life and fun that joy simply could not be contained inside him.  He loved hugs...and baseball (he was a catcher)...and football...and everybody...and Jesus.  Donnie had a smile that could light up a room and he lit up many lives during his 15 years.

That's why all our hearts broke when he was accidentally run over by a Gator (ATV) at a football camp not quite three weeks ago.  Donnie's funeral was Monday of this week.

The entire squad of the local high school football team he played on was in attendance.  So were all the players and coaches of the area baseball team as well as the church youth group he was a part of.  During the funeral, the football player who drove the ATV apologized to everybody for all the pain he had caused, breaking down in sobs before the huge crowd of those paying last respects.

While Brodderick openly grieved in front of us all, a lady moved quickly to embrace him in his overwhelming sadness and guilt...the only woman who could possibly console him at such a moment...Donnie's mom, Susie.  She had been sitting by that stricken young man during the whole service.  Not knowing quite how to respond to such a display of unselfish empathy and forgiveness, the whole audience rose to their feet and applauded.  I was one of them.

Our family knows Susie as well as Donnie's dad, Don.  They came to our home fellowship group during a season of their lives when Don had difficult health issues.  We had the privilege of watching Don's health improve.  There was never a dull moment with the Crotty's in our group.  Susie was never shy about expressing her heart directly to God, even when she thought He was being unfair or unreasonable.

I know Susie has had some very raw, honest, and painfully hard moments with the Lord over the past three weeks.  But she is going to make it.  No, she will do more than "make it", she will make something out of it...something out of all the pain and suffering and anguish and loneliness...because she loves Jesus, too, just like Donnie does.

Today's Scripture can seem canned, cliche-ish, even callous unless it is seen in the light of how "a very present help in times of trouble" God is.  Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

Not some things or even most things.  All things.  Even the tragic death of an only son.  God works good out of all things.  Not that all things are good.  Not by any stretch of the imagination.  Some things are unspeakably evil, or in this case, almost unbearably tragic.  But God weaves good out of the drops of our hot tears.

Sadly, not all are the beneficiaries of this goodness.  It is only guaranteed to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.  But it is guaranteed to them.  That means all of us who are in Christ.

Tragedy will come to all of us.  It is inevitable in a fallen world.  When it comes, will we despair and give up hope?  Or will we watch for God to bring good out of it all?  He's already doing that with Donnie and his family.

A grieving mother has received strength to comfort a guilt-stricken young man sobbing before a funeral audience.  A whole city has been reminded of how frail and fragile life is and how we need to rush to embrace one another in love while there is still time.  And about 45 people at the funeral said they wanted this same Jesus that Donnie had.

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