One year ago today, a well-known evangelist lost his oldest son.
Reflecting on the anniversary of his son's death, evangelist Greg Laurie testifies that the Lord has been there for him in the midst of a devastating time.
When Christopher Laurie died at age 33 last July in an automobile accident, many wondered whether Greg Laurie would be able to continue his ministry and preach at the Harvest Crusades later that summer as he does annually throughout the United States.
He had a choice to make.
"Will I merely react emotionally to it, and live permanently under the cloud of grief, pain, and sometimes even despair? Or will I listen to what the Bible says about this and perhaps gain a new perspective?" Laurie wrote on his blog Thursday.
"Though I have spent plenty of time with the former, I work at living by the latter."
Although still grieving, Laurie went on to share the Gospel message to tens of thousands of people in Anaheim, Calif., Philadelphia and New York City that year.
His signature messages about heaven were even more compelling as he spoke of his son and his assurance that Christopher was alive in the presence of God.
"[O]ne day I will see him again. I don't just feel it. I know it," Laurie says in his blog. "Christopher David Laurie is my son, and he is alive."
The day of Christopher's fatal accident was the most devastating day in the evangelist's life.
The obvious question arises: Why does God allow suffering?
Answering the question a year later, Laurie said, "When you're in times of hardship you cling to God more tightly than in other times and you realize that the answer is God.
"I think it's a greater awareness of the fact that you need God, number one, and then God is with you, number two, and you cling to Him, you rely on Him. You're not so self-sufficient."
The Southern California evangelist did not let the tragedy destroy his faith. In fact, it pushed him to turn to God rather than away from Him. He couldn't imagine dealing with his son's death if he didn't have faith in Christ.
Another reason God allows suffering, Laurie noted, is so that the affected can help other people who have gone through a similar tragedy.
"I think God can really use you to help someone else so they don't lose hope and know that there's light at the end of the tunnel," Laurie said.
Now just a month away from his 20th annual Southern California evangelistic crusade, Laurie is again ready to give hope to thousands.
"We can pray and sometimes God will remove our problems. Sometimes He'll heal us of that infirmity, but sometimes our problems don't go away. But God is still with us," the evangelist says. "We have a greater hope than this life on this earth. It's a life in heaven and in the presence of God.
"For now all of our questions are not answered. ...But there will come a day until we see God face to face and all of our questions will be answered. Until then we need to walk by faith, we need to trust God and remember that His grace is sufficient for us."