Wednesday, April 13, 2016

How do you comfort your seminary students when their best friend just died serving a mission?

It's been all over the Utah news. Yesterday Elder David Hampton died while serving a mission in Taiwan. I discovered that he used to attend the private school where I teach seminary, and his best friend is in my class. 

What can I tell my class to offer comfort, peace, and perspective in what feels like such tragedy for their friend? 

Click here for a video about David and his family on KSL News. The faith of his parents is incredibly inspiring. 

The missionary mom in me can't even begin to imagine how it must have felt to receive that phone call. My heart goes out to Cyndi and Steve! 

Could God have protected Elder David Hampton on his bike? Yes, God can do anything. Then why didn't He? I don't know. But He knows. 

And that's what faith is about -- trusting that God intervenes when it is His will and plan, and that when He doesn't intervene to save a life of a precious young man serving Him, then God has a reason and we will understand it someday. 

Here are a few quotes I may discuss with my class. 

"On the other side of the veil, there are perhaps seventy billion people. They need the same gospel, and releases occur here to aid the Lord's work there. Each release of a righteous individual from this life is also a call to new labors. Those who have true hope understand this.  Therefore, though we miss the departed righteous so much here, hundreds may feel their touch there. One day, those hundreds will thank the bereaved for gracefully forgoing the extended association with choice individuals here, in order that they could help hundreds there"  (Neal A. Maxwell, Notwithstanding My Weakness, p. 55).

"Now, as you and I look at our lives… we sometimes do not understand that through which we are passing, but, being submissive, we can trust Him.  The day will come, brothers and sisters, when the tapestry of your life will be unfolded, and you will see divine design all through it, and praise God for the experience and the tutoring which, in His goodness, He has given you” (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Devotional, 9 Feb. 1988, BYU-Hawaii, 8).

"We do not control what I call the great transfer board in the sky. The inconveniences that are sometimes associated with release from our labors here are necessary in order to accelerate the work there. Heavenly Father can’t do His work with ten times more people than we have on this planet, except He will on occasion take some of the very best sisters and brothers. The conditions of termination here, painful though they are, are a part of the conditions of acceleration there. Thus we are back to faith in the timing of God, and to be able to say Thy timing be done, even when we do not fully understand it" (Neal A. Maxwell, "Glorify Christ" Address to CES Religious Educators, 2 Feb. 2001).

“All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, … purifies our hearts … and makes us more tender and charitable, … and it is through … toil and tribulation, that we gain the education … which will make us more like our Father and Mother in heaven"  (Orson F. Whitney, in Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972), 98).

I just remembered my favorite book to give as a gift when someone loses a loved one. 

It is Making Sense of Suffering by Wayne Brickey. He was the bishop of our BYU Married Student Housing Ward, and I adore him. The reason I named my daughter Grace is because Bishop Brickey taught me about Christ's grace. It is a beautiful book with his son, Jospeh Brickey's amazing artwork throughout. And the short chapters are like healing balm on a broken heart. The book spoke deeply to me years ago when I was struggling with depression, and I know it has helped countless other people through times of intense challenges. If I had pulled out my repeatedly-loaned-out-and-beloved copy of this book before writing this post, I would have found a gold mine of quotes for this topic. 


Sharon Haynie said...

of comfort Becky. Three years ago, my Seminary class lost one of our own from a brain tumor. His absence is still felt by all of us and we know that he is watching us and helping us from the other side. Your sensitivity to this will help your class understand why this happened and hopefully time will help heal the pain. May the Lord comfort all of you.

Sharon Haynie said...

Some of my words got lost. Your words and thoughts are beautiful.

Becky Edwards said...

Sharon, Wow, what an enormous trial for your seminary class to go through. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words.

Debbie Carroll said...

Pat's sister died 6 days before David. She didn't have a testimony of the gospel. We like to think David might be teaching her the gospel. This helps me with the loss of my nephew.