My wife, Andrea, and I were just married and moved over 500 miles away. It was our first house in a quaint neighborhood in Little Rock, Arkansas. We moved there to serve with FamilyLife, a ministry to families. It was an exciting and fearful experience all at the same time.
As we got to know our neighbors, we connected with a similar young family who was a little ahead of us with children. Rob and Kerry Tittle lived about four or five houses down from us. They were very friendly and welcomed us. We immediately knew they were followers of Christ.
Eventually they moved to another house in Little Rock to accommodate their growing family and we moved to Ohio. Like many old friends we were able to stay somewhat connected to them through Facebook.
Fast-forward about 15 years and now they have nine children and Rob is working at FamilyLife.
In mid-2014, fifty reported tornadoes touched down across the country in various places. One was outside Little Rock in a small community called Mayflower where the Tittles currently lived. Apparently the Tittles had no basement and had to get under their stairs for protection from the storm. Kerry and seven of the children were able to make it to the shelter but Rob and two of their daughters did not make it. They were tragically killed in the tornado.
Many times we hear about deaths in the news but may not think too much about it until it hits closer to home. Then we begin to ask questions like: “Why them?” “Why now?” “God, why would you leave Kerry with seven children to care for and raise without Rob?” “How will they manage?”
There are no easy answers and many times any answer we try to give can be perceived as just a cliché. However, for the follower of Christ, clichés are often truths that are difficult to hear when we are “in the moment”. It isn’t until we can take a breath, go to the Father in prayer, search out the Scripture for comfort, that He begins to share with us that “Yes, this is truth and you can trust Me in spite of the circumstances.”
Here are some of the truths from Scripture that God showed me:
“Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.” (James 4:14)
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once…” (Hebrews 9:27)
“’DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:54b-57)
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
It is true that Kerry Tittle will have some difficult days ahead without Rob and two of her precious daughters. However, Jesus has promised to never leave her nor forsake her. (Hebrews 13:5) The Father has great plans for them as they trust Him and receive love and care from His body (the church). It may not seem like a short time now, but in light of eternity, it will be a very short time until Rob and Kerry are reunited in heaven with the Father.
William “Carey” Northington of One Master Ministries in Xenia may be contacted at www.OneMaster.org.