Eugene Cho

the hope in the steven curtis chapman’s family tragedy

* Guest column I wrote for the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

The accidental and tragic death of Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman’s youngest daughter – 5 year old Maria Sue – was very difficult to process.  There was the initial shock, then confusion, then anger, and then the need to ask some hard questions.  [Another post on Lessons we Can Lear About Compassion].

Yesterday, I wrote a post entitled, “Tragedy in Steven Curtis Chapman’s Family.”  Little did I know that it would be the most read blog entry [for that day] in the entire WordPress blogosphere.  Just yesterday alone, that entry was read 10,104 times and 9000+ new visitors stopped by the blog.  How? Search engines:

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And with so many visitors [both Christian and non-Christian] came an onslaught of comments, emails, and questions.  I don’t have the energy or current mental capacity to answer all the questions but couple in particular stuck out in my mind [and heart] which I will attempt to answer here:

Isn’t it hypocritical for you and the Christian community to highlight the death of one child – however tragic – when so many die tragically around the world? 

The short answer is, “Yes, I am hypocritical and so are other Christians.”  Why debate this?  We are full of paradoxes and contradictions; But Christians live by Grace.

When the Scriptures say that all have fallen short of the glory of God [Romans 3.23], it meant what it said.  We are utterly fallen and depraved – all of us. 

Numbers do not lie.  One death pales in comparison to the global news of thousands of tragic deaths in Burma [Nargis Cyclone], China [earthquake], and the daily staggering statistics of global poverty where nearly 30,000 children die daily because of poverty.

But there are stories behind numbers.  Steven Curtis Chapman has influenced, encouraged, ministered, exhorted, and befriended millions of people through his music.  And as a result, the death and loss of their youngest child feels close to home.  Christians should must care for the suffering around the world but it shouldn’t need to apologize for mourning and grieving over Marie Sue.  We are called to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.  [Romans 12.15]  

And we are mourning with the Chapman family.

Where is the hope in this death of Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter?  How can you say God is good?

Let’s be honest here.  It is hard to say, “God is good,” during situations that bring us to utter pain and desolation.  But the path to hope and healing always goes through doubt, pain, anger, grief, and mourning.  To not be able to bring our honest and real anger, doubts, and pain to God makes a mockery of the veracity and the redemptive power and grace of Christ.

But there is a path.

There is Hope because Death Does Not Have the Final Say!  While I clearly cannot speak for God, I do not believe this death was the will of God.  It concerns me when Christians are so easily able to explain events as “this was the will of God.”  But nevertheless, it is not outside the Sovereignty of God.  In other words, God is in control, remains in control and will always be in control.  God was not surprised.  He is sovereign and He alone is God

There is HOPE – even in this tragedy – because it cannot separate us from the love of God that is the gospel of Christ:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 8:38-39]

There is HOPE because the Chapmans do not journey alone.  For example, as evidenced by the millions that searched for their stories on search engines, the thousands [literally] of comments on the In Memory of Maria tribute and blog posts, people care.  The body of Christ cares.  When we don’t have the courage and strength to HOPE, others HOPE for us.  No one person or one family exists on an island to themselves.  This is the beauty of the body of Christ.

There is HOPE because ultimately, God cares.  He has not forgotten or forsaken. And He continues to use all circumstances and situations – even tragedies – to beckon His children and the larger creation – back unto Himself.  God restores.  God reconciles. God redeems.  There is HOPE because there is Life beyond this world.  There is HOPE because in short, there is God. 

God is HOPE.

Praying for the entire Chapman family – especially father, mother, siblings, and the older brother involved in this accidental death.  The Lord is near.  May they experience His presence and redemptive grace during their confusion, anger, mourning and healing.

Question: 

How would you answer this question:  Where is the hope in this tragedy?

Filed under: christianity, family, religion, ,

75 Responses

  1. Beth says:

    Eugene,

    Thanks for this. I needed to read and hear this.
    The tragedy is not good but God will redeem it to be good.

  2. Dennis says:

    “God is HOPE…”

    I think I’m about what life would be like without God and I think about a complete lack of hope.

  3. Craig Julian says:

    Your thoughts crossed my mind today. There are 5 million people homeless in China now…There are thousands and thousands of parents that have lost their children. All of this is tragic. I weep for those parents as well. I think the tough part is this accident is different than an earthquake. It was caused by human hands. The earthquake could not be stopped. Then….maybe neither could be stopped. I am not sure. I am a seminary graduate, but I still have no answer for you. Both acts are sad…The difference is the fact that we feel connected to the Chapman family. He has given us beautiful music, yet he is one of us….A normal guy….A good man if you will. The other people that haev lost children are good as well…..I just do not know them. Although I weep and hurt with them as well. Where is the hope? There is hope in Jesus called the Christ…but the pain is still here for now. I cannot convince anyone to believe the way I do….but I love everyone because Jesus does as well.

  4. When you asked the question, his song was what came to mind… one of the reasons I have been so inspired by SCC growing up.

    “With Hope” – by Steven Curtis Chapman

    This is not at all how
    We thought it was supposed to be
    We had so many plans for you
    We had so many dreams
    And now you’ve gone away
    And left us with the memories of your smile
    And nothing we can say
    And nothing we can do
    Can take away the pain
    The pain of losing you, but …

    We can cry with hope
    We can say goodbye with hope
    ‘Cause we know our goodbye is not the end, oh no
    And we can grieve with hope
    ‘Cause we believe with hope
    (There’s a place by God’s grace)
    There’s a place where we’ll see your face again
    We’ll see your face again

    And never have I known
    Anything so hard to understand
    And never have I questioned more
    The wisdom of God’s plan
    But through the cloud of tears
    I see the Father’s smile and say well done
    And I imagine you
    Where you wanted most to be
    Seeing all your dreams come true
    ‘Cause now you’re home
    And now you’re free, and …

    We have this hope as an anchor
    ‘Cause we believe that everything
    God promised us is true, so …

    So we can cry with hope
    And say goodbye with hope

    We wait with hope
    And we ache with hope
    We hold on with hope
    We let go with hope

  5. Michele Smith says:

    Wow! I hope these words minister to the Chapman family as they walk through this pain of losing their baby.

  6. [...] pastor who is a blogger wrote this, and I thought it might be an encouragement for [...]

  7. Annita Booth says:

    When I read the words of “With Hope”, that is exactly what the Chapman family can cling to. There are no words for such a tragedy, and I surely think about the son that was involved in the accident. I just pray that he can feel God’s Hope for himself. My prayers and thoughts will be with your family! GOD is certainly our HOPE!

  8. Karen from South Dakota says:

    I, too, have a lost a child tragically so I DO totally understand what this family is enduring. The Hope in this loss is all that is left…that is how I know God is good. God has given me the faith to believe in that Hope and I do that every day. It’s what gets me through the loss and it will get the Chapmans through, also.

    There is nothing that compares to the loss of a child just as there is nothing that compares to the Hope and promise of eternal life. I pray for the Chapmans that their strong faith will pull them through the sorrow and remind them of the Hope.

    The question is a tough one but the answer is so simple–at least if you have faith it is. And that is the one comfort I have in this because their faith is so astounding and solid. It will never be more important to them than now. It is the HOPE.

  9. [...] [updated] tragedy in steven curtis chapman’s family * Part II:  Where is the hope in this tragedy? [...]

  10. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for such a thoughtful and God-honoring post! All so very true.

  11. Mike w says:

    Hi guys,

    Our hope is in God…not in events or emotions because they will change. God said there will be trouble in this world. I think we all know that this is not a perfect world. But we know that God is in control of all events whether we agree with them or not. We are not God…he is… and our hope is only in him. That does not change even after horrible events like this.

  12. Paula C in Arkansas says:

    I have been a Steven Curtis Chapman fan for years. In 1996, I lost one of my best friends to liver cancer at the age of 29. A couple of years after that, SCC wrote and released the song “With Hope”. (I notice that someone else referenced the song earlier in the blog). I heard the song for the first time two days before what would have been David’s birthday. i felt like God had used Steven to remind me that David was one of his children, and therefore, I would see him again one day in heaven.
    Does knowing that relieve the pain 100% of losing someone you love? NO.

    What happened to Maria Chapman is a tragedy. The kids who died in the tornadoes in Arkansas two weeks ago…was a tragedy. The children who are dieing every day in Zimbabwe and Kenya from Rebel fighting….is a tragedy. My daughter’s friend Sarah, who died when the car she was riding in flipped after being rammed by a drunk driver…was a tragedy. The young man who died last week when his friend accidently shot him in the head….was a tragedy.

    I could go on and on and on. While it is true that their are many parents out there who are grieving for lost children,…we who love Steven Curtis Chapman are grieving with him and his family this week. Just like I grieved with David’s parents when he died, and with Sarah’s parents when she died. Just like I cried for those families who lost their houses and in some cases, their loved ones…in the storms as I helped clean up debris from where their homes used to be.

    I wonder if SCC ever imagined when he wrote the song “With Hope” that one day he’d have to sing it about one of his own children?

    Today…I cry…not for Maria…because she’s in heaven with Jesus today. i cry for those left behind.

  13. Roxanne in Montana says:

    In reply to the question “Where is the hope in this tragedy?” Yesterday a friend who doesn’t believe in the God asked me how I can believe that what happened to little Maria was God’s will, and if God is so good then why does He allow awful things to happen… it’s easy to get caught up in the why’s and the what if’s, especially as an unbeliever, and also as a Christian, but that’s where the hope comes in. Almost 5 years ago we lost a very dear friend at the young age of 16; he was an innocent bystander hit by a police officer driving close to 100 mph, chasing my oldest son…. Jacob was full of life, a young man with the world ahead of him, and was killed by my son’s actions that night. For along time I questioned God on why He would allow such a terrible thing to happen, and why would He take a young person who did nothing wrong that evening…. I pretended to be the “good Christian” in front of people, but at night, when alone with my thoughts, I questioned and hammered God on why He allowed this to happen. I remember asking God to give me one good reason for taking Jacob’s life…. 6 months later Jacob’s parents called and asked us to come over to their house; they said there was someone who wanted to meet us. We met a young man around 30, his wife, and their little girl; he told us that God wanted him to share something with us; you see this young man had a heart condition that would have taken his life within the next 6 months or so, and he was at the very bottom of the transplant list; he told us he would never get to grow old with his wife, he would never watch his daughter grow up, graduate from high school and college, he would never get to walk her down the isle on her wedding day; he knew that unless a miracle happened he didn’t have much time left…. and that’s where the answer to the question I asked God every day since Jacob’s accident came from…. you see this young man told us that he was alive, living and breathing, enjoying his beautiful wife and daughter every minute of every day because the heart that was beating in his chest came from Jacob. How you might ask? Well, God is so Awesome, and only He knows the final outcome in all our trials. Jacob was an organ donor, and his heart was a perfect match for this young man.
    To my friend, and those that don’t believe in God, here is the only answer I have for you… I know that I made it through those 6 months only by the grace of God; God has given me the strength to face every trial that I’ve gone through; He helps me to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and moving forward. Here is a scripture that He gave me that has helped me every day in this crazy, upside down at times, out of control world we call life,
    “Be stong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9b
    This is my prayer for SCC and his family, and also for all out there going through trials and difficulties in their life. God Bless you all!

  14. Brenda Sue says:

    No one has mentioned the teenage son who accidentally ran over Marie Sue. He is young and may not ever recover from this. He too needs compassion and prayer. I am sure that Seven Curtis and Mary Beth are grieving for him also. It is a double tragedy because they are going to have to pick up the pieces for him too. This family needs our prayers. Remember God’s Word says, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all things. I am thankful that I know God who is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. He loves the Chapman family with an everlasting love. He does not lie. He is all truth and I can trust in that. He hears our prayers. I rejoice that Marie is in Heaven and I cry for the teenage son who is suffering the most right now. I pray he will find comfort in Christ and Christ’s promises.

  15. Eugene, Steven is a friend of our ministry, so we have a personal connection. I can’t imagine the pain. Certainly a need for prayer. I appreciate your blog.

    Jim

  16. Truthsower says:

    You said:
    The short answer is, “Yes, I am hypocritical and so are other Christians.” Why debate this? We are full of paradoxes and contradictions; But Christians live by Grace.

    That’s one of the most honest things I’ve ever heard a Christian say. If more Christians knew this, or more if ACCEPTED it, the grace of God would fall more softly upon us all.

  17. This is a tragedy beyond scale, plain and simple. I feel terrible for the family and I hope they understand that this is a particularly sad death and that it should not be compared with the countless tragic losses of life in Myanmar and China. All violent death is sad.

    Can I ask a question wholly unrelated to the death of Marie Sue? Part of the issue I have with Christianity — and I am a self-proclaimed Christian who is intensely private about his beliefs — is that it can be kind of a humiliating religion, and this doesn’t sit right with me. I believe that to be right with God we have to give Him all the glory, because without Him we wouldn’t be here. I know I’m exceptionally blessed. But to take it to a whole other level and say “We are utterly fallen and depraved – all of us”, I really don’t believe that I’m depraved. This seems kind of dramatic to me. I give to charity, I’ve volunteered my time to a worthy cause within the last month, I try not to be mean to people (nobody’s perfect though and this is where we need to ask God’s forgiveness), but to go that major further step and border on self-loathing by saying that I’m depraved? I have trouble with that. This is what I like about religions like Islam and Judaism — there’s not this horrible feeling that you can never live up to expectations. Of course they preach that humans are nothing without God, that they should submit completely to him (Islam means “submission”), but they don’t make you feel bad about a sin someone else years and years ago committed. They preach individual responsibility, as does Christianity, but you start with a clean slate in Islam, whereas in Christianity you’re already born with two strikes against you. I don’t think I’ll ever convert to another religion, but I think saying that we’re all utterly depraved is too much, and this is what turns off moderate, middle-of-the-road Christians like myself.

    I like your blog, you spread a loving message and I’m happy to read your eloquent affirmations of faith, but can you please address this question of (what I see as) borderline self-loathing speech that I (and I imagine others) have trouble with? Thanks for your time.

  18. eugenecho says:

    @madrugada jones: not intended for self-loathing.

    we are created – wonderfully, fearfully, and beautifully – in the IMAGO DEI. God created humanity and saw that it was good.

    but we are also fallen and depraved. the Scriptures say that we were once enemies of God because of our sin. humans tend to think too highly of ourselves. we are too sufficient, self-reliant. but if we can just see a glimpse of how dark and fallen we…just a glimpse…

    then, i believe God’s grace becomes that much more amazing, brilliant, and life transforming.

    i believe we err if we think we deserve God’s grace. we feel we are entitled and while i believe in the IMAGO DEI, we also need to know that God reached out to us through His amazing grace – powerfully and eternally demonstrated through Jesus Christ.

    that’s my 1 minute answer.

    hey folks: i’m taking the next couple days and will check the blog here and there. but be nice and have a great weekend.

  19. I love Steven’s lyrics “His strength is perfect when our strength is gone. He’ll carry us when we can’t carry on.”

  20. Diane Myers says:

    Here is a song of Steven Curtis Chapman’s that I just listened to that is exactly what we are all doing as Christians for the family!!!

    will not pretend to feel the pain you’re going through
    I know I cannot comprehend the hurt you’ve known
    And I used to think it mattered if I understood
    But now I just don’t know
    Well, I’ll admit sometimes I still wish I knew what to say
    And I keep looking for a way to fix it all
    But we know we’re at the mercy of God’s higher ways
    And our ways are so small
    (Chorus)
    But I will carry you to Jesus
    He is everything you need
    I will carry you to Jesus on my knees
    It’s such a privilege for me to give this gift to you
    All I’d ever hope you give me in return
    Is to know that you’ll be there to do the same for me
    When the tables turn
    (Chorus)
    And if you need to cry go on and I, I will cry along with you. yeah
    I’ve given you what I have but still I know the best thing I can do
    Is just pray for you
    (Chorus)
    I’ll carry you
    I’ll take you to Jesus on my knees

  21. Matlock says:

    Pastor Cho,

    Thank you for your explanation. I appreciate your time. You write with passion and you have an interesting perspective. I understand that you don’t believe saying “I am depraved” is self-loathing, but I do believe it’s rather more than is necessary. I am a Methodist and was raised with the understanding that God set everything in the universe into motion and then stepped back to let us make our own mistakes and to seek Him out on our own. In my heart I believe this is true. It’s a pretty democratic way of thinking. I believe that through our own efforts we reflect the greatness of God (whether that be preaching to a congregation or painting a beautiful mountain vista). It is good to acknowledge that God is great and we are by comparison infinitely small. For one thing, it helps tamp down the motive inherant in some people to dominate their fellow people, and for another it helps us all put our problems in perspective. But I cannot shake the feeling that God created us imperfectly so He should understand that we have shortcomings and, as long as we actively talk to Him and ask His forgiveness, that He really should understand that He created us in such a way that we’re already hobbled on day one of existence. I’ve never heard this point raised in any church service I’ve ever attended, and I doubt it’s emphasized in the Bible.

    Maybe life isn’t fair and this is too much to ask. It’s a complicated way of thinking about life in the face of which, to me, religious platitudes have always rung hollow. God does everything and it’s really not my place to forsake His love because I don’t understand His methods. But I cannot see myself as somehow inherently flawed by my own doing. If God created us imperfectly, shouldn’t He understand it when we stumble every once in a while? I don’t feel that I should strive so hard to be a good person and still have to see myself as such a wretch. Am I making sense? To me, a feeling of emotional wellness and a feeling that I am somehow wretched are completely incompatible. And if God is the author of this incompatibility, then hopefully He’ll understand that I cannot see myself as a fundamentally bad person.

    I think people can submit to God and not have to see themselves as debased beings. Just my opinion. I think people should feel good about themselves. Millions of people have to strive mightily to survive every day. Should they also be made to feel that they are barely good enough for God’s attention? Don’t they already sort of feel that way anyway? I imagine some of them do if they have to fight so hard just for basic necessities.

    I don’t want to speak for all Methodists here, but for most of us I believe that God is everywhere, we just have to seek Him out. He doesn’t guilt us into being loyal to him (well, not that much anyway), but what he has done is laid a world at our feet that we must understand is infinitely beautiful, and for that we must give Him all praise.

    Thanks for the opportunity to post here, I really like your blog.

  22. Sorry, I accidentally posted that last entry under “Matlock”, which is the other screen name I use sometimes. My mistake. Sorry for the confusion.

  23. I would offer that part of the understanding in the outpouring is that SCC has written music that has touched so many lives. We ache with him because we think we know him so well. He has been part of our journey for soooo long.

    This tragedy doesn’t discount other tragedies. We just know it better because we’re connected to the person who it happened to.

    But tragedies are the opportunity to judge God and miss out, or fight through the pain to discover the good that comes from it. We’re called to suffer with Jesus so we can discover our own restoration. If we’re not following in those footsteps, the suffering makes no sense.

  24. Gayle says:

    Tragedy always seems ‘hopeless’ in human eyes, because the pain and hurt is almost unbearable. This is especially true for people who do not have Christ or choose not to believe for one reason or another. Even strong Christian families, such as the Chapman’s are brought to their knees (the best place for prayer) by events such as these, and lot of people would be crushed emotionally and spiritually if not for the strength of the Holy Spirit we receive through our Lord, Jesus Christ. Do Christians hurt and suffer tremendously when things like this happen – of course! I thank God everyday for his mercy and grace otherwise our spirits would not be able to handle such things. Not surprisingly, God’s wonderful Word has several things to say about death, suffering and hope.

    Isa 57:1-2 The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.

    Romans 5:2b-5 And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (NIV)

    2Corinthians 4:7-9 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all‑surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (NIV)

    God’s Word says it best-because when it gets down to it, humans just fall short and we don’t understand the reasons. Some things we were not meant to reason or understand and we don’t have to, it will be made known someday, and that is what we can hope for-even if we don’t like it, it is sometimes hard to grasp, but I know God is good, and he is sovereign and today we don’t understand, and tomorrow we won’t understand-but maybe in a few years we might understand. But we will always hope!

  25. Brian says:

    One thing that seems to be lost in this is SCC’s teenage son. While the entire family certainly needs our prayers, all of the news reports are saying that his teenage son was the driver of the car. This poor child is going to need a tremendous amount of prayer love and support. This will be an extreme test of faith that no one ever hopes they will have to endure. I hope that everyone who reads this will say an extra prayer for his son.

  26. [...] Nietzsche, Stephen Curtis Chapman, tragedy, With Hope I read on another blog today how a pastor (Eugene E Cho) was being questioned in regards to the tragedy that has besot the Chapman family.  Apparently, [...]

  27. Gayle says:

    Mostly definitely I agree Brian. It has to be unimaginable pain and guilt that could possibly overwhelm him in the days and weeks to come. I pray that through all this, that the love and hope of Christ will shine through.

  28. Beppo says:

    We really need to pray for SCC’s teenage son, as some have said. I can’t imagine how difficult it will be for him to forgive himself. Even though he knows it was an accident, he will second-guess himself for a long time, and the regret will continue to haunt him. Only God can set someone free from all that.

    =====

    Madrugada / Matlock,

    If I may make a statement on what you said… if you claim that God created us imperfectly (that is, with sin), then you’re blaming God for your sin. But God created us pure & holy, yet with free will. Our ancestors chose to sin, so now it’s passed on to us, and it’s in our nature.

    And when we’re judging ourselves to see if we’re “good” or not, we must use the standard of Jesus and the Word. There are sins of commission AND omission. If we’re not living like Jesus and doing greater things than He did, then we’re still falling short of His standard.

    Also, without God, we would be wretched. Even while working out our salvation, we still struggle and mess up. But the key is realizing who we are in Christ. On my own, I am flawed, but by the grace of God, I am pure and holy. Of course I try my best, but I still fall short. But God sees me according to the sacrifice Jesus paid for my sins, when I’m in right-standing with His covenant. So if you’re talking about yourself, you’re not all that, but if you’re talking about Jesus in you, then it’s awesome.

  29. [...] of the Steven Curtis Chapman tragedy, I was listening to the dialogs going on. Eugene Cho’s post struck me because he ask some good questions. I understand the outpouring. Steve has been deeply [...]

  30. sarah says:

    There is Hope because Death Does Not Have the Final Say! While I clearly cannot speak for God, I do not believe this death was the will of God. But nevertheless, it is not outside the Sovereignty of God. Simply, God is in control. God was not surprised. He is sovereign and He remains in control.

    EXACTLY. Thank you for not diminishing the entire resurrection of Christ by ignoring the fact that we live in a broken world and passing off something as senseless and tragic as Maria’s death as “God’s will.” If this sort of thing is God’s will, if death is not really so bad after all, then there is no need for anything else. It is all as it should be, it is okay, let’s passively accept it.

    But it isn’t okay, this is not okay with me. It is not okay with me because something in me recoils at the thought that this has happened, that everything in me screams out that it is wrong, because it is so deeply, deeply wrong, and the reason there is hope is that someday, this deep wrong will be made right. It is NOT okay. It is not God’s ultimate or original plan. But it has been allowed, for now. And it will, in the end, be made all right.

  31. Alison says:

    Eugene, thank you for your thoughts and for reminding us of our Great Hope. When I was a child, I was always scared of death and dying. Before the age of 5 I had already seen my great-grandmother’s body in the hospital and gone to two funerals. My grandfather died 3 days before my 5th birthday, and so understandably I was shaken as a child. I even thought that if I put my covers over my head that I would suffocate and die, I was that fearful of it. But through salvation and the gift that Jesus gives … I had Great Hope. For eternal life! Romans 8:38-39 became my life verse, at the very tender age of 9. And it is with this Scripture that we know that nothing separates us from the love of God. Nothing. So let us cling on to this Hope for the Chapmans – and for all of those in the world that need to hear it and know it.

  32. Beppo,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my post. I hear what you’re saying, and you bring up some interesting points. My problem is that if God held everyone to the standard of acting either just like Jesus or, as you suggest, BETTER than him, then no one would go to heaven. There have been few historical figures like Jesus ever, which is why he’s held in such high esteem (Islam, by the way, also holds him up as one of the greatest prophets ever). I can’t imagine literally trying to live my life as he did his because others have tried for centuries but there’s just never been another Jesus (my apologies to any Muslims who may be reading this, Muhammed was also a great prophet in my humble opinion, but I still hold up Jesus as the paragon of goodness which is a product of how I was raised). So if living as Jesus lived is inherently unrealistic, when we admit that we’re not perfect and ask God’s forgiveness, shouldn’t God understand that we cannot live up to Jesus’ example and thereby forgive us without us having to resort to demeaning ourselves by saying dramatic things like we’re fallen and depraved?

    I understand that Christians should try to strive toward living as Jesus lived, but I don’t think we have to trash ourselves in the process. That’s all I’m basically saying. And I know it’s a small point that Pastor Cho was making above, but that’s a bee that stuck in my bonnet. Thanks again for your illuminating post, Beppo.

  33. Samantha says:

    Thank you. Thank you.
    This post encouraged me immensely as well.

  34. vitaminbook says:

    I kn ow this is going to comr across as very tasteless, but…

    I can’t believe they actually called her ‘Marie Sue’.

  35. With fear and trembling, in answer to your question, there is no hope in this tragedy. Hope is in what to be found on the other side of this tragedy, and the millions of others like it. Hope is in Christ, who has inaugurated the defeat of death, and will one day complete that task. Until then, we groan in travail with the Chapman family.

    Grace and Peace,
    Raffi Shahinian
    Parables of a Prodigal World

  36. Natalie Ogg says:

    Amen to all that you said and…..If I could tell them….

    Dear Beloved,
    Your precious Maria Sue was blessed to recieve the love and joy that you, who were chosen by our Heavenly Father, could give her here on earth. You were so faithful to the Lord that he chose your family. He, knowing of your desire to serve Him above all, knew He could count on all of you to be faithful to the end. Thank you, thank you, thank you with all of my heart and many, many others for drawing her precious soul to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and salvation. She now has life eternal because of YOU!!! Along with 5 of the most wonderful years a little soul could ask for. I grieve with you in tears and a griped heart. I also lost a baby girl, at birth. I know (a little) of the pain that you all feel. “Halleluiah” or “Halli” will spend her days with Maria dancing on the streets of gold untill we join them. I can see them now with their beautiful white princess dresses twirling on the golden ground and my heart also yearns to be there. May God heal your injured hearts, remember, “a bruised reed He will not break”. Hold fast, He is coming soon. Hold to the faith that has brought you this far and hang onto one another. May the Holy Spirit rise up in your place and carry you day by day. I pray for your precious son, that he will be strong and courageous, standing firm in the knowledge that, although we can not see the end from the beginning, all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose!!!! Hang on!!! HE IS FAITHFUL!! He will not leave or forsake you!! With all the love in my heart, I will be in prayer for you all, Natalie Ogg, mother of six on Earth (three in Heaven) Servant of the Most High.

  37. Scott Thong says:

    The hope?

    That she is saved and in God’s loving arms right now.

    That millions will read this story and some will be touched to adopt those unwanted children.

    That millions will hear of the family’s response to this tragedy and some will accept Christ as their Lord, that they too may have the same hope.

    (And that more people will be careful when parking their cars… This sort of accident happens all too often.)

  38. penny h says:

    My thought and prayers are with this family at such a sad and heart wrenching time. May God comfort them and may they know peace. I can’t even imagine the feelings that they are going through.

  39. John says:

    Where is the Hope?

    SCC and his family were given the honor by God our Father to show this little girl His love, His compassion, His character. In our human minds we are left asking ‘But why were they given so little time?’

    Many of us (prayerfully) will never experience the type of pain this family is experiencing. My 5 YO son was recently diagnosed with a life changing illness. However, there is hope for him as we serve the greatest physician ever known. For sickness there is His healing, for loneliness there is His comfort , for death there is His promise of eternal life for those that believe. There is hope in all things.

    The day my son went to the doctor I started off the day by declaring the sovereignty of God. After the diagnosis, I did the same (although crying), Because there is HOPE.

    My kindest regards for allowing me this opportunity to express my thoughts and feelings.

  40. Allyson says:

    As I read reactions to this event in the blogosphere, it concerns me to see what, from my perspective, seems like gross oversimplification of the experience of suffering. We say that it’s “unimaginable,” and yet we spend a great deal of energy speculating as to why God would allow something like this to happen and how it can somehow be turned into good. It’s almost as if we see God as the Philosopher’s Stone in some great alchemy, turning the lead of suffering into the gold of good.

    I’ll be honest. As a parent, the fact that God might use the story of my child’s horrific death to bring dozens or hundreds or thousands to salvation would simply not satisfy me. I may be an oligopistos, one of little faith, but there it is. I would shake my fist at the heavens and rail at God for a long, long time if something like this happened to my child.

    For me, the hope is not that God somehow transmutes horrendous evil into good. Hope lies in the fact that God suffers with me as I suffer and agrees with the spiritual instinct which tells me that such things are cosmically wrong.

  41. Randy - Rockwall Texas says:

    Just listen to Stephen’s song “Heaven in the Real World” – that is all the answer you need. Our thoughts and prayers are fervant for strenght, peace, comfort, and joy – the joy that you will all be together again someday.

  42. Lois says:

    Lets face it, if we never felt pain, always had peace, never longed for anything better, we would seek God less often. If life was perfect, maybe not at all.

    This is not Heaven. For believers this is as close to hell as we are going to get. We are left here on this earth for one reason after we are saved; to bring folks to him.

    He’s the potter and we are the clay. He’s molding all of us in some way who are touched by this painful experiance. Does He morn with us, yes He is the creater of compassion.

    Remember the “Good Samaritain”, if someone had not been hurt and in pain there would be no Good Samaritain.

    If Joseph’s brothers had not sold him into slavery he would not have been where he needed to be to be a blessing to so many.

    I say, watch for the miracles, the heros, the outpouring of love from brothers and sisters all over the world. The truth is God has always used pain to accomplish his will. His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. His are much higher.

    I once heard a man that had experianced much pain say, “God trusted me with that much pain.” The man had a great ministry threw that pain. If you are the one who would shake your fist at God in that kind of pain then hopefully he won’t give it to you. Or maybe his grace would be enough for you to and you would surprise yourself. No one wishes that much pain on anyone but Gods grace and the uplifting prayers of the faithful will carry us if we will choose to let it. Or we can choose to be bitter and angry at God.

    Remember, Grace is a Jesus thing. We aren’t tring to gain eternal life, he came to us and gave it to us. We need only trust Him for it. And we need to trust Him with this even though we don’t understand.

    Everything is because He is Risen,

    Prayers of Love and Peace

  43. Sandy Dobbins says:

    Well said Eugene, its always when we put our guards down and there is just nothing humanly possible to explain things that God comes through his people. Thanks for the great post.

  44. Thank you, Eugene, and the many commentators, for so genuinely, tastefully, and Scripturally approaching this difficult question. There are no pat answers regarding death, sorrow, pain….we humbly seek our Hope in Christ and know with conviction that we really know so little… I choose to trust that God is good–even when so much around says otherwise. It reminds me of another of SCC song’s which runs through my brain when I have deep or difficult questions–“God is God (and I am not!)”

  45. [...] God feel ? I believe He does . Today as I saw the picture of the Chapman’s little girl I lost it ! Why [...]

  46. GMcKenzie says:

    Our prayers must now be geared towards the brother. We must lift him up in our prayers that this life changing event will not be the end of life for him but a place to go deeper into God’s love. He must be told over and over that he is loved. I pray to our Father that he tucks this young man up next to him to help him thru the grief and pain he must be feeling right now.

  47. Clint says:

    Wonderful response brother. I’m thankful that God has given you the grace to articulate it much better than I would have been able to.

  48. Vijay says:

    Mr. Cho,

    I appreciate your words and articulate expression.

    However, to use the number of searches on Steven Curtis Chapman as evidence that that people care for them seems to be a stretch to me. We are a voyeuristic society and the internet only feeds that tendency. I think you overestimate “the Body of Christ” explanation.

  49. Shari says:

    I don’t know where the hope is in this tragedy, but God does. As I wrote on my blog: We all know that God can bring good out of the bad. We don’t see the whole picture, that’s where our faith is strengthened. Let God be glorified despite this tragedy.

    I think that the reason why so many in the Christian community are drawn to this type of story is because so many of us can relate to this family in some way. There are some who have been touched by the music of Steven Curtis Chapman. I’ve heard both Steven Curtis and Mary Beth talk on radio shows about their orphan ministry and about their own experiences with adoption. Steven Curtis and Mary Beth also are spokesmen for Compassion International and have encouraged many Christians to sponsor children. Also, the accident in the driveway is something that I worry about happening in my own driveway. I’ve heard about this type of accident over and over and it’s a big concern for me since there are usually 5-7 kids running around my house. We highlight the death of their child, because many of us know about them.

  50. Jason says:

    I suppose many wondered when Jesus died, “Where is the hope in this?” Even Jesus from the cross cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?” But for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God.

    If only we could see from God’s perspective, maybe we wouldn’t view Marie Sue’s death as a tragedy but a victory. “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

    Marie Sue is now in heaven with God where there is no more death, no more sorrow, no more crying–what is tragic in that? Only the pain of those whom she left behind. (And we do not make light of that pain.)

    I am sure that Steven Curtis Chapman agrees with David, “But now [the child] is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me;” 2 Samuel 12:23.

    Marie Sue is not coming back, but all of us who have put our faith in Christ shall see her again. “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints;” Psalms 116:15.

  51. [...] Where is the hope in the steven curtis chapman tragedy? [...]

  52. Christin Phillips says:

    Oh my God I feel so sad for the Chapman family. There are no words I have no words that will help. I am praying for you. I hope that the teenage son will not be too hard on himself about the accident. It could happen to anyone really. May Jesus keep Marie Sue safe in His loving arms. May the family never lose hope of seeing her again.

  53. Beverly says:

    An article from the Tennessean that portrays the beautiful and painful funeral service:

    http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080525/NEWS01/805250411/1006

  54. leizlmarie says:

    so many tragedies are really happening nowadays.. the victims of these heart-weakening tragedies as well as the chapman family are included in my prayers — prayers for strength and hope..

    i wont be surprise now why there are so many blog posts talking about the chapman family, they have touched the heart of so many people even the ones who the family don’t know at all..

    anyway, i’ve learned something from your post! thanks for posting! your post have even touched me! God Bless!

  55. Sally Dubroc says:

    I did not read any of the replies to the question. I have listened to this guy’s music for many many years; even having a part of using the song “Great Adventure” as a theme for Catholic Youth Conferences in 1995
    The hope is that this one lost life will bring life to thousands; there is no doubt about this
    The amount of people who are now aware of this organization, aware of the children in need, aware of the financial help available ( not to mention those who will not send money to this organization so that more financial help is available)
    We will never truly know how many lives have been saved through this horrific situation. Our prayers have to go out to the brother whose life is forever changed because of this;
    God bless you
    Sally Dubroc

  56. Teresa says:

    I think Christians make a mistake by thinking that this tragedy will some how, eventually, be “ok.” There may be peace and healing in the future, but it will never be “ok.” It can only be different, and whether that different is good or bad is entirely up to us and how we respond to this tragedy. Because of what happened, her brother’s life is set on a path that will be entirely different than it ever would have been, and as a community of Christians, I believe that we need to pray that the difference in his life will bring abundant blessings. I love that his brother said, “God is going to heal him in a way we do like.” I think it is important to continue praying those words over and over again. This will never be “ok” for that 17 year old boy, but God can heal and bless this new life he is faced with. Because of this, he can never be the person he was, so we must pray for the person he will be.

  57. Tonia Barnhill says:

    God is Hope.
    Little Maria is in a better place…in the arms of Jesus! People will see Hope and see God’s hands throught this tragic event. Many people will come to know our Lord and savior through this because they will see how the Chapman family and their friends are dealing with this. My prayer is that we can all lift their son up with as many prayers as we can. He needs them my heart goes out to all of the Chapman family.
    God is good!

  58. Lynda says:

    I’m remembering an older song by Steven… “Where is the hope, where is the peace, that will make this life complete? For every man, woman, boy and girl… looking for heaven in the real world.” We are all searching… The song ends with “He is the hope, He is the peace… that makes this life complete.” AMEN. Without God, what do you have when you don’t understand. With Him, you have everything, and answers are of little importance anymore. My prayer is that someone may come to know Him in this search for answers.

  59. eugenecho says:

    @vijay: your assessment of my usage of seaches as evidence is valid. but as you believe i overestimate the body of Christ, i believe you are underestimating the nature of the body of Christ.

    others: prayers for the older brother is critical. one of the reasons why the press & media have chosen to not talk too much about the older brother in question is because the chapman family [i have heard through friends in nashville] that they focus away from that story.

  60. [...] the hope in the steven curtis chapman’s family tragedy Update 5/25:  An article in the Tennessean entitled, 2,000 mourn Chapman girl, Stand by Brother, as the Chapman [...] [...]

  61. Patti Jo Brown says:

    I understand I too lost my son in a tragic car accident. He was one of my six children. Only God knows. My heart and prayers are with all the Chapmans during this difficult time. Sometimes you just have to take time to cry and let Jesus do the healing. In God’s Love, Patti Jo Brown

  62. [...] to this blog in search of information about the Chapman tragedy, we might all be drawn to the compelling love and grace of Christ.  Here’s the entire post [via Jim's blog]: For those who couldn’t be here, I thought [...]

  63. [...] Check out this post: the hope in the steven curtis chapman’s family tragedy.  Eugene Cho (a pastor) did a post about Steve Chapman’s daughter’s death (she was a [...]

  64. [...] Someone wrote some poignant thoughts on the tragedy in the Steven Curtis Chapman family. [...]

  65. Laura Woods says:

    Madrugada, not all Christians believe the doctrine about being “utterly depraved.” That’s a distinctive teaching of only some Protestants; I think it comes from the teachings of John Calvin. I suggest you investigate the Eastern Orthodox family of Churches; I think your beliefs will fit in with ours. More and more Christians in the Western Hemisphere are becoming Orthodox Christians. I am one of them.

  66. Bobbie B says:

    God says everything works together for good, not that everything that happens to us is good. How Great is our God in the midst of a tragedy and how faithful He is to us. I pray for a havest of souls that others may have that blessed assurance and can say “Jesus is mine”
    Keepng The Rocks Silent

  67. Sue S. says:

    This is what I know:
    We are designed by God’s hand
    We are saved by God’s Son
    We are filled with His Spirit
    We are walking in the circumstances of God’s sovereign will

    I pray that God will give us the courage, strength and grace to glorify Him in All that we say and o.

    This is all that I know for sure.

  68. Sue S. says:

    This is what I know:
    We are designed by God’s hand
    We are saved by God’s Son
    We are filled with His Spirit
    We are walking in the circumstances of God’s sovereign will

    I pray that God will give us the courage, strength and grace to glorify Him in All that we say and do.

    This is all that I know for sure.

  69. [...] I am writing this post and sharing Houser’s summary in hopes that with numerous folks coming to this blog in search of information about the Chapman tragedy, we might all be drawn to the compelling love and grace of Christ. [...]

  70. Zadok says:

    Eugene,
    I’m curious about your ‘short answer’ that we are depraved and live by grace. It doesn’t seem to be an answer but an excuse to continue with the status quo. From the pulpit, conversation, and here, you often remind us that we are depraved people who aren’t perfect, and while this can serve as an honest and humble assessment of our humanity and need for a gracious God, it doesn’t further any discussion towards a better understanding of the nature of things. True, the church is not perfect, and that self-criticism must be worn on the sleeve–just look at the failure of the Catholic church to acknowledge its sex abuse scandal–but we shouldn’t use this posture to silence our critics who are hoping for a richer and more beautiful Kingdom.
    Zadok

  71. Zadok says:

    …your ‘long answer’ by the way, is spot on my friend.

  72. eugenecho says:

    zadok: good thoughts.

    if “depraved and live by grace” is the only answer, then i think it’s an excuse that continues with status quo.

    for me, it’s intended to say that we can’t do it alone. we need help. we need community. we need grace from others. and lastly, we need God’s help in helping usher in a new work…

    if it’s a stand alone statement, it’s dangerous. but if it’s part of the larger narrative story of:

    god’s creation.
    imago dei
    sin, rebellion and depravity
    incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection
    restoration, redemption, and reconciliation

    then, i believe it’s a very important admission.

    unfortunately, people, including me, can abuse that to be the excuse that exculpates us from action and responsibility.

    my classic example is when i tell my wife in response to my selfishness or wickedness: “but i’m not perfect…”

    which is another way of saying, “I’m depraved…”
    lame-o.

  73. paige says:

    I have no smile in the midst of a trial
    but i have grace to stand and all i need
    IS A DOSE OF FAITH
    and a willingness to His plan

    Sometimes it just may be Gods will
    that someone I love die
    Sometimes it may not be His plan
    for me to laugh but instead to cry

    Sometimes when I am in great pain
    And there’s nothing I can do
    It’s then when your refining me
    To make me more like you.

    Written by : Paige Minyard – me

    my heart goes out to you.

  74. [...] Eugene Cho: Where is the hope in the steven curtis chapman tragedy? [...]

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