Saturday, March 31, 2012

Triumph from Tragedy

As the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advance Response Team helicopter lifted from the highway with their injured daughter strapped inside, a dazed Gary and Cindy Besaw clung to the knowledge that she was alive and stabilized. Even when cautioned by one of the EMTs that his daughter Chrissy had sustained a head injury, Gary's first thoughts were of how that would affect her future, not her death.

It was a miracle she was alive, they said. And God was in the miracle.

He had left his signs of assurance all along the way, hadn’t he?

First of all, Gary and Cindy had planned to stop on their way from Michigan to visit a brother, but unable to reach him, continued home where they were that Sunday morning in May when the phone rang.

A nurse was following right behind the truck that struck the car Chrissy was riding in. She climbed in the crushed car, saw that Chrissy wasn’t breathing, and performed CPR, reviving her.

The reasons to believe God’s hand of intervention continued.

It normally would have taken the Dartmouth helicopter twenty to thirty minutes to get from Lebanon, New Hampshire to the crash site, but “miraculously” it was taking part in a field day event minutes away.

Desperate to reach their son as well as their pastor, Cindy called the number of the cell phone their son had called from the night before, although certain that the woman would have turned it off during the church service.  But the phone was on vibrate, not off, and the woman made the unusual decision to step out of the service and answer it.

With groups of people gathered for prayer and one of the finest pediatric neurosurgeons in the country working on their daughter, the Besaws read the signs and relaxed as best they could: God was in control.

They didn’t expect that within the next few hours their daughter would die.

Had they misinterpreted the signs? Was not God not in each of them? Why then, this outcome?

In seeking to understand God, so many of us delight in the “good” things as indications of his favor and presence, but get totally baffled by the “bad.” God tells us repeatedly that he desires that we know him, and yet when his ways are not our ways, when the situation is contrary to what our human reasoning concludes, we wonder what went wrong.

As did the two on the road to Emmaus who “were hoping that it was He [Jesus] who was going to redeem Israel.”—Luke 24:21, and yet witnessed his death as an ordinary man.

But does he not show us, as we are remembering this Easter/Passover season that it took a death to bring life? That it took the blood of a lamb, painted on a doorpost, applied to a sinful heart, to bring redemption?

That sometimes the signs are not what they seem, as God showed the Besaws.

Gary and Cindy never imagined the triumphs that followed the tragedy of their daughter’s death. Triumphs that that brought glory to God and salvation to many. In retrospect, seeing through the lens of God's love, they saw he was indeed in the signs. Anchored on the unshakeable foundation of God’s love, Gary was able to say, “Since I know that what happened was motivated by His love, I am satisfied.”
Heartfelt thanks to the Besaws who allowed me to read Gary’s manuscript, A Peanut Learns to Dance: How one girl’s tragedy transformed the Christian community. I will keep you posted if this makes its way to publication.

 Vivacious Chris Besaw died in a violent car crash weeks at the end of her junior year in high school. She was one of my students—the one who could make me laugh even in the middle of a lesson on the SAT essay.

I pray for you stopping here, may your hope be skewered strongly on the promise that regardless of what the situation may look like, He is the One who overturns death and makes triumphs out of tragedies.


  1. Powerful story of faith in action. I especially appreciated how you tied it into Easter. After all, are not all our stories tied to His? Beautiful, Marcia. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Marcia,

    Do you know if this book has been published yet?



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