McDowell Technical Community College

Mine Creek Baptist Church

Trusting God….Even When Its Hard

By Preacher Chris Rathbone

Mitchell County

Sitting here in front of this computer to write right now is a struggle. This has been a tough week for many in our small community. Another high school student has passed away. This is two years in a row that Mitchell High School students and staff has had to deal with the death of a student. Another young life that seemingly ended way too soon. Another child, sibling, grandchild, friend, etc., gone so sudden has left family and friends in a state of shock.

Even as a preacher I have to admit that I struggle when something that seems like such a tragedy happens. The right words seem impossible to find… if there are any. There’s no way that any of us who have not experienced the loss of a child can even begin to have any understanding of what that feels like. My heart has wondered, my mind has thought, and I’ve asked myself, “What if that was my child?” Even asking that question, we have no answer because we haven’t experienced it. Our family has shed tears this week, but not from the same pain others have in their hearts. In a small community, you are often allowed the privilege to get to know people. You watch their kids grow up with yours. Sometimes you get to coach these kids in youth sports, watching them play on the same teams as your own kids. You grow to love them and get to interact with and know their families. They have the same classes in school with your own children. Often we see ourselves as a family more than just a community. We celebrate successes and blessings together and mourn together in tragedy.  We are privileged to share life with people that we have grown to know and love over the years.

With a heavy heart, I travelled out to Mitchell High School the next morning. The school had planned an assembly for the students who wanted to come. Several other ministers were there, hoping to somehow help. So many people I know had prayed for a miracle that never came. The look on everyone’s face, from the students to the teachers and staff, expressed the heavy burden each one was carrying. Broken hearts were longing for healing. Questions in their minds and knowing there were no easy answers. Ministers praying for the right words, knowing that no matter what we said, the hurt in everyone’s heart was something all of us were just going to have go through.

In tough times like this, personally, I struggle with thinking of all the potential that seems to be lost when a person dies so young. Thinking of all the life they had left to live, the other lives they could have impacted, the ways they could have contributed to their community and especially to the work of the Gospel of Christ.  I’m tempted to think, “Lord, I believe I would’ve done things differently.” I’m just being honest. And then…..God begins to work.

One by one teachers, staff, and students begin to stand up and testify of how this young man had impacted their lives. How that his life was a great example of faithfulness to Christ. Teachers talked of his commitment to excellence in his studies. Friends began to tell of his willingness to be a friend to all. There were stories of how he showed respect to his teachers and leaders. Coaches remembered his hard work in striving to be better in whatever he did. One by one I listened to classmates speak of his devotion to his Savior Jesus, how he loved to talk about the Lord, his commitment to morning devotions and daily Bible reading. Even as tears of mourning flowed down faces, voices all over the room echoed the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Of how His death and resurrection has conquered the grave and secured eternal life to those who would give their lives to Christ. Students were quoting scripture and reading from their Bibles. Even though they were sorrowing, they were not sorrowing as those who have no hope! Much of the same happened at the memorial service. Worship songs were sung, memories of this young man’s influence and life were shared by family, and faithful men of God shared the hope of the Gospel of Jesus.

In all this God reminded me that there’s more involved in the things of this life than just the here and now. There’s a bigger picture being painted by God himself, there’s a greater plan being fulfilled, and an eternal salvation that is being preached to hearts of those who need it. Even though you and I may never understand, never have the answers to questions in our hearts, or ever see God’s great plan now, one day when we are spending eternity with Jesus our Savior, all things will be made plain. That my friends is what will help us all to trust God…..even when it’s hard.

Praying for the hurting,

Preacher Chris

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not on thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:5-6