Finding Hope After Tragedy
It’s possible to find hope after tragedy. Hope doesn’t come easily or quickly, but with God’s help I‘ve seen it happen. Here’s what I’ve learned.
The Article I Didn’t Want to Write About a Tragic Loss
There are many times that articles will write themselves. There are some that come by a way of necessity, and others will come out of nowhere. Some take days or weeks to write, while others will take an hour or two. I must let you know up front that this article has taken me nearly eight months to write for the simple reason of “I don’t want to.”
You’ll understand why.
On January 11, 2020, I was sitting with my bandmates during a break from our Saturday afternoon/evening rehearsal. We sat in the over-sized furniture out in the giant hallway of Pathway Church, called “The Crossing”, enjoying casual conversation. I was sitting with my back to the windows, so I never saw the fire trucks making the red and blue lights that reflected off the wall opposite of where I sat. The comments around the group were mostly out loud wondering what auto accident had occurred at the entrance to the church parking lot.
Had we known of the tragedy that had occurred less than a hundred yards from where we were practicing, I doubt we would have been able to continue on that very evening.
Raven Goff was a little girl that invaded my life six years ago. For a reason that only God knows, this little girl loved me. We played together on the front row of the church seats, and I even got to hold her after a long morning at church. (See photo) Throughout the years of her life, Raven would come into rehearsal and ask her mom if I was there. I sang for Raven in the nursery and got hugs from her on Sunday mornings before the service would start. Raven’s mom, Tanner Trujillo, plays piano at our church, and I’ve known her ever since I started singing there. Raven’s dad, Shane Goff, and I have played on the same softball team for several years now representing our church.
On January 11, 2020, Raven’s life was cut short. Because of a freak accident, Raven Goff was rushed to Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth by the red and blue lights we had seen that Saturday night. She would not recover from the injury she sustained to her head. Six years on this planet was not enough for any of us. With as much truth as I can muster, God only knows why Raven’s life ended so soon.
People prayed and begged God for a miracle. It would have indeed taken a miracle for the trauma sustained to be reversed. Instead, Raven received the ultimate healing. Other people received a miracle for their prayers as several of Raven’s organs were donated.
God’s Ravenous Reach for Strugglers
What happened since that tragic weekend has been nothing short of amazing. The social media hashtag “#RavenousReach” has gone around the world. Raven’s memorial service was viewed across the globe by people watching the live stream on the Internet. Tanner and her cousin/sidekick, Mary Ellen Smith, have launched a campaign to put bibles into the hands of anyone who makes a simple request for one. People that Tanner has never met have generously donated the funds necessary to provide these Bibles that people are hungry for.
People are hungry for the bread of Life. This bread only comes from one source: the words of God. #ReachForBread is the hashtag title of the effort to provide the bibles through social media contact. So, follow the dots and they get connected:
- A six-year-old suffers a devastating injury and succumbs to the injury.
- Tanner records daily videos of her ordeal and reveals her brokenness to the world.
- A massive outpouring of love for this family occurs in a small town in Texas but is viewed around the world by people who pick up the story on social media.
- Tanner and Mary Ellen launch an effort to put the word of God into the hands of people from all over the United States.
- Donations flood in to fund the effort of sending Bibles out.
God’s word is being sent out. In the cauldron of tragedy, hope is formed and takes over. This is nothing new for God.
A Promise From The Bible That God’s Word Will Satisfy You
God knows what he is doing:
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:6-11, HCSB)
The word of God is being sent out by ordinary people, not some huge ministry organization. Bibles are being sent to the people who are hungry for the bread of life. They are hungry for “Hope.” The efforts of Ravenous Reach are accomplishing the purpose of God’s plan. It’s so hard to see that through the grief, but what is being done to reach people with the “Agape” love of Christ is happening because of ordinary people doing to will of God.
Why Did Hope Come from This Tragedy?
Why did all of these good things happen? I have a theory.
If you’ve searched your way to this website looking for a prayer guide for your situation, you may have landed on this article. It wasn’t by accident. You needed to land here so you could read the next verse of scripture from the Bible:
“God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27, HCSB, emphasis mine)
Here’s hope: Jesus. And, yes, He is enough.
This is how I have resolved this issue within my own heart. This is the only way I can figure out that the loss of a young life makes sense. Over the last eight months I have wrestled with how to write this article and convey to the readers the sadness and grief that this life event took me through. I was in a moment of time when something horrific happened to people I know, and I was helpless, powerless, and confined to an observational perch. There were no words to say. Nothing to do but watch and wait as Raven and her family waded through a swamp of misery, pain, and emotions on levels I hope to never know. I have mourned the loss of Raven in my own way, and it has hit me hard at times. She loved me, unconditionally, and I loved her back. I will hold onto the memories of a toddler trying to tap her foot along with mine as the worship team sang to the “walkers and stalkers” in the nursery. I will hold onto surprise hugs, and the images I have in my mind of this blonde-haired girl climbing trees at the ballpark. Most of all, I will hold onto the image of those eyes that looked into mine with as much love as a child can have.
These memories I will treasure always.
Even in the death of a little girl, (again, for whatever reason we will never know this side of heaven) the word of God is being spread from one side of the world to the other. The Bible, the words of God to man, are being sent to various places in the United States where people are longing to get their hands on the words of hope found within the pages. You can find hope and peace through Jesus Christ. All it takes is the faith of a child, like Raven, who loved unconditionally without expecting anything in return.
Prayer for Hope After Tragedy
Pray with me: “Jesus, I need your peace and the hope that you give. I need you. I ask you to come into my life and fill up all of the empty places, including my heart. I ask for your living bread to give me everything I need to get through each and every day. I believe in you, and your promises to me. Be my hope, be my life, and let me be a light to shine in this dark world. For your beautiful name I pray, amen.”
(To donate a Bible you may contact Ravenous Reach at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Other Articles by David Shelton
Copyright David Shelton 2020. All rights reserved.