Yesterday, NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series was in Michigan for the Pure Michigan 400—and for the second consecutive week, one of NASCAR’s biggest stars was not driving. Tony Stewart is still dealing with the aftereffects of the fatal accident that took the life of driver Kevin Ward, Jr. a week ago in upstate New York. While the friends and family of young Ward were grieving the loss of a loved one, Stewart was coping with that moment on a dark, dimly lit track when Ward stepped away from his wrecked car and Tony hit him. Sport is supposed to be about fun and competition, but that night brought the reality of a true “life and death” moment to everyone there.
While Ward’s family, Stewart, and the fans who witnessed the event continue to deal with this moment of tragedy, it is a reminder to all of us that tragedy is a profound part of life. So how do we respond to tragedy when it visits us? Where do we turn for hope? Much of that depends on whether the resources we access are limited to what we have in ourselves and our circles of relationships, or whether we can turn to the God of heaven to help us in life’s dark moments.
Jesus offered us hope that transcends this life when He said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 NASB).
That hope is critical when, like the person to whom Jesus spoke those words, we have seen a loved one taken in death. For all who have trusted Christ, even the tragedy of death can be infused with hope—for Christ has conquered the grave.
It has been said that followers of Christ never say goodbye for the last time. This is absolutely true, for there is a reunion that awaits those who share faith in the Savior. When tragedy strikes, the promise of seeing one another again does not take away the pain and grief of deep loss, but it does give us hope. And that hope can make all the difference in the aftermath of tragedy.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain