Joana appeared upstairs suddenly. Her face was a puzzling mix of pain and shock. Then the tears came. I just hugged her knowing something really bad had happened. “What is it Sweetheart?” Luz and I inquired. She choked out words that impacted our hearts like a sledgehammer, “Krystal...she’s gone…” We couldn’t believe what we were hearing. Krystal McCain, Joana’s friend since the 4th Grade and the daughter of people we deeply admired and cherished was dead. We asked all the natural questions, “How? When? Where? Are you sure!” There were no answers. This nightmare was real and no one knew why.
Our thoughts immediately shifted to her parents and family – Pastor Henry and Brenda, her sister and two brothers. The thoughts of what they were enduring – the loss. The pain. The situation seemed unbearable. After a long week, we headed to Detroit to pay our respects and support our friends.
Today was the day. Nearing the church, it was clear that this family was well-loved. The turnout was immense. Parking occupied several city blocks. The line for greeting the family during family hour resembled the line for a state funeral. Entering the door I received a pamphlet. It was an invitation. As I read the pamphlet, I realized I had already accepted this invitation and I smiled. Even in their grief, this family was reaching out to others inviting them to be blessed by walking in faith with Jesus and they have and I have.
Upon reaching the sanctuary, I saw the family on their feet, greeting every single visitor with a hug and a blessing. I witnessed a family in the midst of gut-wrenching grief resolved to make a statement to all who came to grieve alongside them. They were resolved to live out the reality in their lives of Christ in them, the Hope of Glory! My turn came and hugs were shared with energy and strength. I was blessed by the very people I came to bless, but the best was yet to come.
Hebrews 10:32-34 says that when Jesus followers suffer, they become spectacles.
“But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.”
The McCain family willingly presented themselves as a sanctified spectacle of transparency, tears, laughter, grief, joy, struggle and victory as they shared the reality of their pain through the security of their faith. The siblings shared their memories, loss and confidence in the Lord. The grandparents shred wisdom born of years of struggle and called everyone present to a deeper level of commitment. Brenda shared her thanks, her love and her confidence that Krystal would be well pleased with the event held in her memory. Pastor Henry, her father, displayed a trust in the Lord and strength in the Spirit that touched me and all present in the deepest places of our hearts. There were times I was so stirred by the vitality of the faith on display that I literally wanted to shout affirmations aloud as if my favorite team was winning the Super Bowl.
This family invited us into the inner sanctum of their unbearable experience and by doing so, left us all stirred, encouraged, emboldened and empowered to demonstrate our own faith with more gusto as we left the sanctuary than when we entered it. So powerful was the call to faith that a strong contingent of attenders not only left stirred, but departed the experience forever changed as they themselves embraced the way of following Jesus. The McCains were willing to bear the unbearable to honor a beautiful child and to glorify a Marvelous Savior. I will never forget beautiful Krystal. Neither will I forget the amazing family of which she is a part and the gift they gave hundreds of mourners on this never-to-be-forgotten Saturday afternoon.