“Hope in Tragedy” — Words God Used

In Ezekial 37:5, Ezekiel is in a valley filled with dry, lifeless bones. He says, “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.”

God does this to everyone who believes, in one way or another. C. S. Lewis wrote that you can never enter Narnia the same way, and I believe that, similarly, entrance into the new life of Christ is not formulaic; it does not happen one way. For me, God used words to cause breath to enter me. When I walked into a memorial service in 2006, I was a walking pile of bones. It was June 4, and the speaker, Don Van Ryn, had recently learned that the young girl whom he had been told was his accident-surviving daughter was in fact not his own. His own daughter, Laura, had died, and professionals had not caught the case of mistaken identity until more than a month after the accident.

This is how Don started his daughter’s memorial service:

To those who ask, “How could this all have happened?” and would say, “You need to bring a lawsuit,” God calls me to a response of love and forgiveness. Jesus said, love and pray for those who do you harm. Jesus is our example. He himself suffered unjustly and forgave. He calls us to imitate him. We are here today to celebrate Laura’s life.

I invite you to hear the words of Jesus from the book of Matthew. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your father in heaven.”

It is common practice to say wonderful things about those that have passed away in a moment like this. But today I say in truth, this is how Laura lived her life. Her light shone and continues to shine before people in a way that profoundly affects us all for God’s glory. Someone on the blog stated, “I feel as though I have been blind for the first twenty-one years of my life. And your faith and devotion has shown me the light.” Our hope today is that all of us will see the one true light, Jesus.

–Don Van Ryn’s opening remarks at Laura’s memorial service, June 4, 2006, taken from Mistaken Identity

I will never forget how, with a single paragraph, Don unequivocally threw away the option of a home-run lawsuit in the name of Christ. In so doing, I instantly new of how dead I was, and I immediately wanted what Don had. His face was set like flint for Calvary.


About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

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