To Strengthen a Grieving Mother

Song: "God Will Make a Way"

 

"I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert" (Isa. 43:19).

Many songs that are meaningful to Christians were born during a dark period in someone's life. A deep tragedy was the background for one of Don Moen's most influential and widely known songs. The message in the lyrics and the beauty of the melody have caused it to cross over from the genre of praise and worship to other categories of Christian music.

The following is how Don related his story to me about his song: "My wife's sister and her husband, Craig and Susan Phelps, were involved in a car accident during a ski trip they were taking from their home in Oklahoma to a resort in Colorado. Way out somewhere in the Texas panhandle their van was hit by an eighteen-wheeler. The truck hit a rear panel of the van with such force that all four of their children were thrown out.

"The children had just left their seats, where they were buckled in, to lie down for a nap on a bed' positioned in the rear of the van. In the darkness only the crying of their severely injured children made it possible for Mom and Dad to find them-all except one-their nine-year-old son, Jeremy, who they finally located lying by a nearby fence. He was already dead. His neck had been broken.

"Craig, a medical doctor, picked up his son and tried to revive him, but God said to him, Jeremy is with me. You deal with those who are living.' They sat for forty-five minutes, out in the wilderness, waiting for an ambulance.

"They asked me to sing at the funeral, so I boarded a plane the next day, March 19, 1987, and headed for Oklahoma. As I sat on the plane, wondering what I should say to them, I began to read in the book of Isaiah. My eyes went to chapter 43, verse 19, I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.' Instantly, the Lord gave me a song to sing to them. I sketched it out on a legal pad, intending to sing it at the funeral, but they had already planned to ask me to sing Henry Smith's Give Thanks,' so I sang their request instead.

"After the funeral, I was sitting with them, holding them in my arms. I cried with them, and through my tears I said, The Lord gave me a song for you.' And I began singing, God will make a waywhere there seems to be no way.'"

Don continued, "I made a taped copy of the song for Susan to play on her small cassette player just above her kitchen sink. I knew that when all of the people had gone, and everything was said and done, that there would be days when she needed to hear that God was working in ways she couldn't see."

God does work in many ways that we do not understand. Young Jeremy's friends heard that he had become a Christian before the accident. Many of them began to ask how they might know Christ so that they could go to heaven when they died. Jeremy's mother later related how she made a quick decision between the time she got out of the van and the time they found her son. She knew that she had to make a choice between becoming bitter and angry and accepting God's plan for their family at that time. Good things happened as a result of making the decision to embrace God's will no matter what that would mean in their lives. She later agreed that God really did make a way for them.

At first Don protested F. G. Baldwin's suggestion that the song be recorded, citing that it was "much too simple." But after discussing it with the staff at Integrity, the song was placed in an album titled Eternal God.

In times of trial, and especially in times of extreme trial, we need to be assured that we have a God who loves us and will provide for our every need.

© 2008 by Lindsay Terry. Used by permission.

Lindsay Terry has been a song historian for more than 40 years, and has written widely on the background of great hymns and worship songs including the books I Could Sing of Your Love Forever (2008), from which this piece is excerpted, and The Sacrifice of Praise (2002).

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