Last Friday 17-year-old Sarah Hammering died in a church bus accident in Atlanta, GA. on her way to a mission trip. As I watched the video clip of her mother Karen read Sarah’s journal for reporters, I was tremendously moved. Sarah referenced Bible verses and reflected on participating in God’s divine nature, loving and serving the children of Botswana whom she called her “little buddies” and confidence in God’s desire to do great things. What a doll.
Her family looked shocked yet determined to wrestle eternal good from their sudden reality: a heap of metal, tire marks and luggage scattered across Camp Creek Parkway. Though stunned by grief, The Hammering’s default reaction was to seek a higher purpose. Let this one fact be known: Sarah will not have died in vain. This family is determined not to let this happen. The Bible verses their daughter journaled about will impact people whom she has never met.
This determination reminds me of the many ways to process loss. One way is to bring good, the other is to want everyone in the world to feel the pain you feel. King Solomon encounters the later in 1 Kings 3:16-28 where two mothers fight for custody of an infant. The women who lived in the same home each claimed that the living baby was hers. #sisterwivesprobs? After listening to each case, Solomon brilliantly asks for a sword to cut the baby as to give each mother half. The true mother begs him to let the child live while the mourning mother says, “do it!” If I have to suffer, then let everyone suffer is her attitude. It is a noble choice and only one born of God which can be on the front lines of fire fighting even after one’s home is a smoldering heap of ashes.
What God has covered this family with is the peace which passes all understanding. Not that their road will be easy but it can be eventually surprisingly beautiful as God redeems this incredible loss. Despite our most valiant effort to live a painless life, no one I have ever met has been able to pull that one off. In the season of trial there will be just two choices: living a life we really don’t want to live or not living at all. We can accept the challenge before us moment by moment with grace and dig in or choose to be miserable. We can take a deep breath and be part of the solution or scream because our lives should not be this way.
I am inspired by this family. I implore you to pray as I know the millions of prayers have been the gas in our family’s tank for eight years this July.
“Gradually we learn to trust the wounds and failures of life, which are much better teachers than our supposed successes.” -Therese of Lisceaux