A couple of riveting news stories today caught my eye while I was workin on my fitness this afternoon at the gym. One was about a father-son rescue from being in the open waters of the Atlantic for 12 hours off the Florida Coast. For hours there was no rescue signs or helicopters or boats insight and they were at the mercy of a rip-tide. The 12-year-old son, Christopher, is autistic and mostly nonverbal except for being able to recite some catchphrases from some of his favorite Disney movies. Christopher and his 46-year-old father, Walter, shouted some of these back and forth to each other as they fought to stay alive and waited to be rescued on the open sea. "To infinity!" Dad shouted, "And beyond!" came his son's reply. Christopher's autism allowed to him not have fear in this situation because of his fascination with water and its soothing effect on him. Walter says Christopher's laughing and giddiness during this frightening situation is what help to keep him relatively calm and hopeful himself during moments when it all seemed like a lost cause. Eventually after getting separated from each other and fighting against stinging jellyfish, the two were rescued by the coast guard and reunited. You can watch the father's reaction to the coast guard in the aftermath as he thanks them and yells "the coast guard ROCKS!!"
The second story was much more tragic. Five years ago this week, husband and father of 4 Robert Rogers lost his wife and young children to drowning when a flash flood swept their minivan off a Kansas highway in September of 2003. Rogers, a former mechanical engineer, now spends his time traveling around the country speaking to people about finding hope in the midst of tragedy and has dedicated himself to an extraordinary charity project: he will build 5 orphanages on 5 different continents, each in honor to one of his family members that he lost in the flood. So far, one such children's home in honor of his wife, "Melissa Home", has been opened Russia and houses 8 teenage girls. Construction on a second one has begun in Rwanda.
In the face of unthinkable loss and tragedy, Rogers has maintained that he never became bitter towards God and his faith has remained intact. He stated that he didn't see the point of being angry, but wanted to do something constructive by telling his story to others and opening the five orphanages.
Both of these stories quieted me a bit inside because I felt blown away by them. Both are stories of survival, but only one is of rescue. Both are examples of how God can turn the burdens of our lives into blessings. He can bring good out of the bad. "Even when a man lost his entire family in some freaky flashflood?" I asked myself today..YES.
And how a parent must feel when their child is diagnosed with Autism...I can only imagine. Surely there are worse things, but this one can be daunting nonetheless. It amazes me to think about how the fact that it was 12 year old Christopher's 'illness' or 'disability' that helped him and his father to survive those harrowing 12 hours out to sea. together and apart.
Furthermore, I felt blown away by Robert Roger's reaction to the unspeakable loss he has endured. Though he STILL grieves and cries for his loss years later, he is/was not bitter. or angry, or wtf God! Would I react like that? Would I remain strong in my knowledge of who God is? I am being challenged today about these things, but also reminded about how mighty He is in the midst of any circumstance we might face.
I encourage you to read the rest of the news stories in their fullness via the links I've included. They are rich with emotion and inspiration.
burdens into blessings.
this has been my prayer for the troubles I've been facing and I have seen Him do it.