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When We Don't Understand

Four years after the tragic loss of her daughter, Mary Beth Chapman sees God's gentle hand with her through it all.

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In the first dark hours of her grief, Mary Beth Chapman felt the nurturing arms of God wrap around her like a mother who gently rocks her infant and whispers, I've got you. I'm not going to forsake you. I know you don't understand. But I'm here.

It was assurance amid a time of pain like she and her husband, Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman, had never known.

They'd just lost their five-year-old adopted daughter, Maria, in an unimaginable tragedy. The Chapmans's teenage son, Will Franklin, accidentally hit Maria in his SUV while driving up to the family's home. Suddenly the life they were building—one brimming with Steven's music, a growing family of three biological children and three adopted Chinese girls, and a budding non-profit providing for orphans—came to a standstill.

As Mary Beth recounts in her bestselling book, Choosing to SEE, their story, the story they thought God was writing for them, dramatically changed.

That was four years ago. Since then, Mary Beth says God has patiently walked with her through each phase of her mourning, bringing restoration and new blessings along the way. He's also expanded their orphan ministry, Show Hope, beyond what they imagined possible.

Here, Mary Beth shares how God nurtured her as a parent cares for a child—meeting her in the infancy of her grief and bringing her up through providing comfort, protection, gentle correction, and a renewed passion in ministry.

After Maria's death, how did you sense God nurturing you?

In the beginning I needed to give myself permission to let it all out—to grieve, cry, and be mad. And God let me know he was with me in those moments, assuring me that the same God who was holding me in my grief was the God who was holding Maria in heaven and loving her. I likened my journey of loss to walking through a dark, dense forest. I couldn't see my way out. Yet I felt God hold my hand and say, I know you can't see me, but you've got to trust me.

Was there tangible evidence of God's care?

We had friends who would send the right Scripture verse or say the right thing just when we needed it. Also, while preparing for Maria's memorial service and choosing the spot where she'd be laid to rest, we saw all these ladybugs, which are a prominent symbol in Chinese adoption. I know that sounds crazy, but I think that kind of visual sign was what we needed during those first few days to know God was there.

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Corrie Cutrer

Corrie Cutrer is a writer who lives in Tennessee with her family. She's also a former assistant editor of Today's Christian Woman and recipient of several EPA writing awards. She is currently a regular contributor for Today's Christian Woman.

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Related Topics:Children; Hope; Sadness; Tragedy
From Issue:
Today's Christian Woman, 2012, May/June
Posted May 1, 2012

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When We Don't Understand