I just finished Mary Beth Chapman’s book Choosing to See. It follows her personal journey from youth when she desired a stable, planned, predictable life through the many events that cause her to have to let go of that desire and to trust her Sovereign Lord for all things. She thought she would marry an accoutant- she ended up marrying Steven Curtis Chapman and living a musician’s lifestyle. After marrying, she thought they would wait to have children and they ended up having her first child very early in their marriage. She settles in to a new first home and experiences a fire that destroys all the stable things she has. She learns to stand by a musician as he makes his big break and works with record companies- many ups and downs.
God was using these moments to prepare her for what would be the most significant tragedy she would experience. Her own sweet son accidentally hitting her youngest daughter who was running up to see him as he drove in their driveway. Unbelievable anguish. Heart-stopping, life-altering pain.
Her book walks through the year and a half that follows that day- the cries of her heart, the brokeness that touched every part of their lives, the sweet reminders of her little one, the community of believers that came alongside to care for and pray for them, the ways that God moved in her heart to keep her believing He is good and He can handle her pain and questions and tears and anger and sadness. Her writing is very transparent and her words bring tears, laughter, and comfort at the same time.
I look from afar at this sweet family and hate what they are all having to endure. The pain of living on this side of heaven, where we experience death and suffering in ways that seem unbearable. And yet this book reminds us that spring is coming ( Chapman’s latest song) and that in the midst of pain, there can be joy- like two of her children getting married, one graduating from high school, the opening of a home in China named for their little one they lost that ministers to orphans who need medical attention and God’s love. The mingling of joy and sorrow- on this side of heaven.
But when He returns there will be no more pain, no more sorrow for the former things will pass away and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. Until that time, we have to fix our eyes on Jesus- and Mary Beth shows us all how to do that with openness and grace.