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Living Your Christian Faith When Your World Crashes Down Around You

The story of Steven Curtis Chapman, Todd Smith of Selah and Nicol Sponberg

By

Steven Curtis Chapman

Steven Curtis Chapman

Sparrow Records
It's very easy to look at Christians that are in the spotlight and admire how strong their faith is. It seems like they have it all and God is blessing them at every turn. They have "achieved" and while most of us never go any farther than simply admiring them, there are those who listen to that little nagging buzz in their heads that says, "Of course they are filled to the brim with faith. God is blessing everything in their lives. If they had to suffer like 'normal people' they wouldn't be so perfectly pro-Jesus." (Think of Satan talking to God about Job in Job 1:9-11)

    "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face."

Dove award winners Steven Curtis Chapman, Todd Smith of Selah and Todd's sister, Nicol Sponberg, formerly of Selah have all spent a great deal of time in the spotlight. They have all shown us, through their lives and their music, that their faith is great. However, for those who listen to the whispers of the enemy, they aren't "normal people" with "ordinary problems." They live those "charmed" lives that seem so utterly perfect and easy to be faithful in.

At least they did ...

In the past 50 days, those three "charmed ones" have each suffered loss that would cripple most of us. They have each lost a child.

It started on April 7th when Todd Smith and his wife Angie welcomed their daughter Audrey Caroline into the world and watched her leave it a mere 2 1/2 hours later.

The following month, on May 21st, Steven Curtis Chapman, his wife Mary Beth and the rest of the family were celebrating their oldest son's upcoming graduation from high school and their oldest daughter's engagement when tragedy struck. Their youngest adopted daughter, 5-year-old Maria Sue, was hit by an SUV in the driveway of the family home. She died after arriving at Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital. To add to the tragedy, the SUV was driven by one of her brothers. Not only did the Chapman's lose a child that day, they also had to watch helplessly as another one of their children was torn apart by grief and a sense of blame.

Six short days later, on May 27th, Nicole Sponberg and her husband Greg put their 10-week-old son Luke to bed at the end of a "normal" day. When they went in to check on him a short time later, they found him not breathing. Paramedics were called but they couldn't resuscitate him. SIDS, which causes about 2,500 deaths per year in the United States, (according to the The American SIDS Institute) was the cause.

The number of Dove awards you have on your mantle, the number of gold records you have on your wall and the number of concert halls you've sold out doesn't matter a bit when you're burying your child. The charmed lives that we were all able to admire from a distance suddenly weren't so charmed anymore.

But what of the actual people? What about Todd Smith? Steven Curtis Chapman? Nicol Sponberg? Not the "Christian Music Stars" but the people; the parents; the ones who are grieving? Now that things aren't going so great, how is their faith faring?

While I haven't personally spoken with them, I have spoken with people close to them and read some of their own writings. By all accounts, they are hurting and grieving but they are holding fast to their faith. They aren't ranting at God, turning their backs on Him because they feel like He turned His back on them the day their children died. Instead they are leaning on Jesus, having Him carry the burden that is too great for them to bear.

    Matthew 11:29-30 - take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest to your souls; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Before April 7th, May 21st and May 27th, Todd Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman and Nicol Sponberg all had my admiration due to their musical talent and obvious hearts for ministry. Now they have my admiration because of their extreme and beautiful faith.

"I'm so very sorry" seems so lacking when you're talking to someone who has just lost a child. No words in our language seem to be able to adequately convey the depth of sorrow for their loss. So to Todd, Steven and Nicole I can only say this ... Stay strong in your faith and lean on the only one who is strong enough to carry the depth of your sorrow. And never forget Isaiah 40:31 ...

    "but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

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