A few years my mother called me out of the blue to tell me that Cam, the 3-year-old of a good family friend, had died suddenly and unexpectedly in his sleep.
Despite exhaustive testing, no explanation or medical reason has been discovered for this sweet boy’s passing. One night he went to sleep as usual, and the next morning his mother found her perfect child completely lifeless.
This is what Cameron, the author of this book, calls his Worst. A devoted Christian and the director of children, youth, and family at an Epispocal Church in Birmingham, Alabama, this book details “twelve key theological truths — truths that became his lifeline of the midst of unthinkable grief.”
This book is special to me because I grew up with Cameron, the bereaved father. My mother and his are the best of friends. She gave me a baby shower for my first son. I, like others in our community, felt their loss on a deep personal level. We have also personally been uplifted by the extreme faith in God that Cameron and his family have shown throughout their last 6 years of hell.
I’m not recommending this book because I agree with all of his points. In fact, he and I differ on perhaps the most important spiritual reaction and tenant one has while experiencing his/her Worst: did this happen for a reason?
Cameron maintains that “My trail is not a random accident. Nothing comes into my life but through God’s perfect discretion. God remains in control of all circumstances. He has a hand in my painful circumstances…”
I do not believe my daughter’s death was ordained by God. I believe it was a random, stupid accident because random, stupid accidents happen in our earthly world.
But here’s where our beliefs converge: As he says in the closing clause of the above quote, “which means that his hand can extend to redeem my life.” Meaning God is there to support us through our Worst. “Even though I dwell in darkness and anguish, God can rescue me.”
God’s “maximum support” is what I cling to. Cameron does as well, but his understanding of his Worst is more rooted in the context that it happened according to God’s plan. I don’t think God has a master plan…. but I do think he loves us and cries with us with our sinful world brings us pain. It doesn’t mean he’s not omnipotent in my book, just that he has chosen not to exercise that power over us.
Below are the “12 truths that comfort, sustain, and redeem in tragedy” Cameron discusses in his book, a work which flourishes through his beaming love and reliance on Scripture to lead him through the darkness into God’s light.