“Please call. It’s an emergency.”

I received a text message last week, quickly calling back my mom, only to hear the traumatic news that my cousin was missing in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon.

As the pieces came together over the next few days, it became clear that our precious Cameron died in a tragic accident while snow-shoe hiking.

Heavy with grief for a life lost all too soon, we now undulate between rage, sadness, shock, and a twisted hope that this is all a nightmare. Like Tom Sawyer, Cam’ll show up at his own funeral. His mom will ring his neck and we’ll all have a good laugh.

But, that’s not going to happen.

My family traveled to Oregon, in his footsteps. Only to realize, without doubt, that an end had come.

A light had gone out.

Empty chairs sit at empty tables.

And so, we grieve.

I’m thick with it now and I have no answers.

I have no way, nor any desire, to wrap this up neatly in a bow.

I do have a lot of questions: How could God let this happen? Why didn’t He stop it? Is God who He claims to be?

But, I’ve learned I don’t have to sort out all of those answers right now; I just get to be sad with my sweet family. 

And I am.

I do find some comfort in knowing that God created each of us with unique personalities. He knows us fully and is not surprised by our grief. 

He knows some of us need tears, stories, and photos. Others need silence or screams. Some need music and pints of Guinness.

Indeed, He is a God who knows us intimately and knows death intimately. He has suffered for, and now, suffers with us.

But, how are we supposed experience any real comfort while in the grip of death’s prideful cruelty?

Crowder’s song, I AM, says,

There’s no space that His love can’t reach
There’s no place where we can’t find peace
There’s no end to amazing grace…
I am
Holding on to You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on 
I am

If there was ever a place your love and peace needed to reach, Oh God, it is here.

During a recent sermon, my husband said this: â€œGod’s joy is found in the dirt and the dust, in the most unexpected places of life.”

So, I echo: if there were ever a more unexpected place to find joy, Oh God, it would be here. 

Please give us glimpses. Help us cling to you in the middle of this storm. Remind us of your unending amazing grace. We so desperately need you now. 

Kevin and I are co-officiating a wedding ceremony this weekend. I’ve never been so thankful for these human, yet sacred, rituals. They serve as a reminder that things are cyclical—we will always carry our grief with us, but even in our pain, there is joy somewhere in the world.  
So, we grieve our boisterous and joy-filled Cameron as we live – one day at a time. 

All the while, stuck within that most miraculous and painful paradox: the kingdom and presence of God is already here, but not yet complete. 

Already and Not Yet, rolled into one.  

We endure brokenness alongside beauty, winter along with spring, and midnight together with the resplendent sunrise. 

Our deepest sorrows mingle with the most astonishing thing of all  hope. 

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