Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Unwavering Faith in the Wake of Tragedy 

A lot of things change in a person when he or she becomes a parent. The most significant for me was the way I react to news of a tragedy involving a child, any child. This sort of news story invokes in me a highly emotional response as my imagination conjures up the “what if that was my child” scenario. With this in mind, read on about a local tragedy involving three brothers killed as a result of an automobile accident this past weekend.

Here is an excerpt from a Minneapolis Star Tribune article about the car crash:

Brothers Matthew, 20; Jacob, 17, and Justin, 16, were killed after their car was hit about 7:35 p.m. Sunday by an oncoming car trying to pass a third vehicle a mile east of Farmington on Hwy. 50. Matthew, who was driving, and Justin died at the scene. Jacob died early Monday at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

The other car was driven by Boe E. Barlage, 22, of Farmington. He was in serious condition Monday at Regions.

Dakota County Sheriff Don Gudmundson said the preliminary investigation indicates that Barlage was talking on his cell phone while driving west toward Farmington on the two-lane road. Witnesses said he pulled out on the 55-mile-per-hour highway to pass a third car, saw an oncoming car and pulled back toward the right ditch. Then he overcorrected and spun back into the Backstroms' car, Gudmundson said. He said it is too early to say whether any charges will be filed.

Imagine your reaction to this news as a parent of the boys. I can imagine myself overwhelmed by tears of pain and anguish. I can imagine myself being unable to carry on a conversation with anyone, being so filled with despair. I can imagine wanting to place blame and having anger well up inside of me. Yet, as another excerpt from the article shows, these parents had quite a different reaction.

"They were the love of our lives," said Nathan Backstrom, a pilot.

“So many things happen that we don't have answers for," he said softly as friends and relatives stood on the front porch of the home in Hampton Township. "God is in control. We don't know all the answers, but he does and we know that someday we will know."

…"Two of our pastors and friends were at the hospital and were praying for us and sang with us as Jake passed away," Connie Backstrom said. She said she read parts of Psalm 34, which she remembered reading after the oldest of her five boys was born. "It says praise the Lord always, even when we don't understand," she said, standing by her husband's side Monday as they faced a bank of reporters and TV cameras.

"I prayed for sons," she said. "God never said how long I could keep them." She recalled Matthew was born without a diaphragm and needed immediate surgery, and God "gave me another 20 years. Justin had severe asthma, and we almost lost him a few times in the hospital. We had 16 years with him."

…"Many have asked how are we doing," Nathan Backstrom said during the hilltop news conference. "My answer is God is faithful. Justin, Jacob and Matthew each had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and they are now in the presence of their Lord and Savior. Our prayer is that because of this lives will be changed and God will be glorified."

This story does give God that glory to which Nathan Backstrom refers. Please pray with me that many people will read this and find or renew their faith and for the continued faith and strength of the Backstroms.

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