Why Not Try This? …Reflect on the incredible hope the Second Coming of Jesus offers during times of tragedy

If you have never experienced a tragedy up close you have lived a more privileged life than most. Peter indicates that there will be suffering among believers throughout the world (1 Peter 5:9). But when tragedy and suffering come our way we have a different response than those who have not internalized the hope of the resurrection at the second coming of Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:13f.)

In July there were two drowning deaths that impacted the families of Carl Cosaert (WWC Theology Professor) and Mark Witas (Cascade Christian Academy Principal- Wenatchee, WA in the UC Conf). Here’s how Carl Cosaert expressed it in an e-mail:

Dear Friends,

Many of you know that my sixteen-year-old daughter Mindy Cosaert was involved in an accident last Sabbath afternoon near Leavenworth, WA. Mindy and her friend were attempting to cross an apparently calm part of the Tumwater river and were caught by an unexpectedly strong current and got pulled down some rapids. Her friend emerged unscathed but Mindy was not.

She was submerged under water for some 10 minutes before being pulled from a place further down the river. Another twenty-one year old girl Meghan Collier jumped in an attempt to save the two girls, but sustained numerous head injuries and ended up drowning in the process. Mindy was kept on life support at the Wenatchee hospital, as I desperately raced back from the country of Turkey. I arrived Monday night at 5:30 pm, but all attempts at restoring her to consciousness were unsuccessful. We learned last night that she was declared brain dead. She apparently had sustained a broken right arm during the accident, and both her lungs had collapsed. The official cause of her death was drowning. Since her body was unable to sustain itself any longer, we had the difficult task of finally having to turn off the ventilation tube late this morning. 

We invite you to attend her memorial service scheduled for this Sabbath [July 22] at the College Church at 4:30 pm.

We thank you for all your prayers and ask that you continue to pray for us as our family struggles to deal with a pain like nothing we have ever known before.

Carl P. Cosaert, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity

Walla Walla College

At Mindy’s memorial service Carl shared his personal struggle while waiting in an airport in Turkey for five hours. God led him to the story of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus back to life (Mark 5:22f. & Luke 8:41f.). Carl helped all of us relive the story in ways we never had before. We are all still waiting for the final verse to take place for Mindy when Jesus comes again and says “Little girl, I say to you, arise” (Mark 5:41).

Meghan Collier Doggett, age 21, the other young lady that drowned, lived with Mark Witas & family, principal at Cascade Christian Academy, our Adventist school in Wenatchee, WA. Her memorial service was the day before at the Wenatchee Seventh-day Adventist Church. Mark and others recounted how Meghan had experienced a difficult childhood but through the work of the Holy Spirit and the love and support of the school and church family she had become a spiritual leader among her peers.

Fortunately both girls had given lots of evidence of a whole-hearted commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Liza Vargas, the other girl who was miraculously spared, says that when she finally came to rest on a rock at the end of ¾ mile of rapids she rededicated her life to Jesus right there.

In times of tragedy the comfort of the Holy Spirit, the counsel of the Bible and the confidence in the resurrection and reunion that will take place with those who have died in Christ at the second coming of Jesus carry us through the pains of emptiness and loss.

Here are some reflections on tragedy and the hope we have in Jesus-

1. Life is uncertain & fragile. 1 Peter 1:24-25- For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,  25 but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

2. Death was not a part of God’s plan. When Lazarus died, Jesus cried. John 11:35- Jesus wept.

3. Walk with Jesus every day. 1 Thessalonians 5:15-19- Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.  16 Be joyful always;  17 pray continually;  18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire

4. Believers don’t have the same kind of sorrow as others. 1 Thessalonians 4:13- Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

5. Those who die in Christ will live again at the first resurrection when Jesus comes again. 1 Thessalonians 4:16- For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

6. When Jesus comes again there will be rejoicing & a great reunion of all those who love Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18- After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

  • We have this hope that burns within our hearts, hope in the coming of the Lord
  • We have this faith that Christ alone imparts, faith in the promise of His word
  • We believe the time is here when the nations far and near
  • Shall awaken, shout and sing, Halleluiah, Christ is King!
  • We have this hope that burns within our hearts, hope in the coming of the Lord

7. When we are tempted to blame ourselves or others or ask “What if…” questions, Jesus reminds us that He has power to resurrect and give life. John 11:21- “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. John 11:32- When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:25- Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies

8. Wherever you are at spiritually you can come to Jesus with your burdens & He will give you peace. Matthew 11:28-30- “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Nahum 1:7- The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. 1 Peter 5:7- Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

9. In God’s master plan, someday soon there will be no more sorrow. Revelation 21:3-4- And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

10. We have only one life and it will soon be gone… Revelation 14:13- Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

  • Only one life, it will soon be passed.
  • Only what’s done for Christ will last.

This tragedy is another reminder of why we must be bold in carrying out our mission- to let people know of a Crucified, Risen & Soon-coming Savior who will reunite family and friends at the resurrection when He returns! Maranatha- Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Blessings to you,
Dan Serns

Related link (added latter) “My Journey With Jairus” by Carl Cosaert, published in Adventist Review November 23, 2006

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Filed under Grief & Death, Pastoring, Second Coming, Why Not Try This?