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Cameron Cole: Hope When You Lose a Child

By June 15, 2021October 19th, 2021No Comments

On November 11th, 2013, Cameron Cole received a call from his wife he will never forget. Their three-year-old son Cam had died in his sleep. It has to be every parent’s worst nightmare. How do we survive? Where is God in that situation? Where can I find hope to go on?

Today’s podcast is one straight for the heart. Do you know families that have lost young children? Are you one of those families? If so, you are part of a fraternity that you never signed up for. This is where Cameron and Laurne Cole found themselves in 2013. How do you go on? Has God abandoned us? How do we process the sorrow?

With the pain raw, Cameron began meditating on Scriptures and truths that would sustain him in the days ahead. The result is the book Therefore I Have Hope: 12 Truths That Comfort, Sustain, and Redeem In Tragedy. And in today’s podcast we are going to meditate on some of those truths for those who are hurting. In addition, Cameron ends with wise pastoral advice to as to how to minister to families that are grieving.

Cameron Cole is Director of Children, Youth, and Family at Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama, as well Founding Chairman of Rooted Ministry, which is dedicated to fostering gospel-centered youth ministry. He is husband to Lauren and father to Knox, Hutch, and Mary Mathews.

But for now, let’s listen to Cameron Cole talk about having hope when you lose a child.



Resources From This Podcast

Therefore I Have Hope, by Cameron Cole

Rooted Ministry

Topics Covered in This Week’s Podcast

00:15 Introduction

03:47 The circumstances that led to the writing of Therefore I Have Hope

09:29 Trusting God for His grace

12:16 Applying the gospel to tragedy

17:41 Finding joy in the midst of The Worst

26:25 Ministering to those who have lost a child

34:48 For parents suffering the loss of a child now

Episode Transcript:

Chap: I’m Chap Bettis, and you’re listening to The Disciple-Making Parent, a podcast of The Apollos Project, where we seek to equip parents and churches to pass the gospel to their children.

Before we start, though, I want to remind you that we give away the audio book of The Disciple-Making Parent absolutely free. The Disciple-Making Parent is the centerpiece of our ministry. It’s been endorsed by Al Mohler and Tim Challies, among others. And we want to put it in your hands and you can have the audio book absolutely for free. So simply email audiobook@theapollosproject.com, that’s audiobook@theapollosproject.com, letting us know you heard about this offer on the podcast and we’ll get the audio book out to you right away.

But for now, let’s listen to Cameron Cole talk about having hope when you lose a child. Cameron, thanks for coming on the podcast.

Cameron: Yeah, thanks for having me. And anytime I can be on a podcast with a person wearing an Alabama hat and has a t-shirt on that says Alabama Dynasty, which people might start unsubscribing left and right from your podcast when they hear that’s what you’re wearing, but I’m always in. And Chap, you’re just one of the most gracious, godly people I’ve really ever encountered. You have such a great ministry. So I’m so honored to be on your podcast and I’m always so excited to get to have a conversation with you.

Chap: Well, thanks. Thanks. I appreciate that. And that’s why I do the podcast part, so people can’t see what I’m wearing. I don’t want to offend anybody who’s not an Alabama fan, but-

Cameron: Well, Hey, it could be worse. You could be me and have a face for radio.

 Chap: Well, we’re going to talk about your book today, Therefore I Have Hope: 12 Truths that Comfort, Sustain, and Redeem in Tragedy. And you went through your own really, really hard time- tragedy from that subtitle- and out of that came this book, which is to help us as we walk through hard times. Talk a little bit about your own story, your own tragedy, or as you called it in the book, “the worst.”

Cameron: Yeah. You know, everybody kind of has their worst nightmare. And for me, mine was two-fold. On one hand, I’ve now been a youth pastor for 16 full years at the time of my “worst.” And in 2013, I’d been in it for eight years and I’ve been a believer. I had a real conversion going into the third grade and I’m just had a really easy life for the most part- you know, I grew up with Christian parents who were really nice, told me they loved me every day, supported me in everything I did. And they were wealthy, I got to do a lot of fun things and got into the college I wanted to. And sports came easy. School came easy. Had plenty of friends, had one rough road with depression when I was in my early twenties.

But I mean, otherwise I had a very, very easy life, really cute, pretty sweet wife who was a missionary. And so I had this fear. If you’re me, of course you believe that God’s good. You know, of course you believe these promises of the Bible, but what if something really bad happened? You know, would I lose my faith and would I cause all these other kids lose their faith too? And so I identified the thing that would cause me to lose my faith as if my son died. And I had this just real kind of fixation on this fear that something would happen to him. And I would wake up in the middle of the night. And then the second part of that nightmare was that I will lose my faith and I would leave these kids high and dry and I’d become an angry bitter person and I’d just go sell life insurance.

And so my worst nightmare happened the afternoon of November 10th, 2013. My oldest child, Cameron, we were playing Legos. He lost a Lego and he just started to ask all these questions about heaven and he asked if we could go see Jesus. And I said, “Well, you can’t go see Jesus; he’s here now.” And then he asked, “Can we get in the car and go see Jesus?” And I said, “Well, you’ll see Jesus when you go to heaven, but until then we know that he’s with us through the Holy Spirit.” And then he said, “Am I going to see Adam and Eve in heaven?” “Well, yeah, God forgives our sins.” And then he said, “Well, I’m not gonna eat from the tree. I’m not gonna eat that. I’m not gonna eat the fruit.” And we all eat the fruit every day. We eat a steady diet of fruit from the tree and wisely, that’s why Jesus came. And then he said, “Jesus died on the cross. Jesus died for my sins,” and really, like a little three-year-old profession of faith.

And that was the last really substantive conversation I ever had with him. That night I went on a camp out and got a call from my wife the next morning telling me to get to the children’s hospital. And I was like, “What is going on?” And there was this kind of silence and this voice of terror. She said “Cam is dead.” And it was something that was obviously surreal and the worst moment of my life. She said he’d just mysteriously died in his sleep, which just doesn’t happen to children over the age of one. It’s just very, very, very rare that a child over the age of one would die in their sleep.

And so this was kind of a moment of truth where I expected that this will be the parting of ways between me and the Lord. That’s what I’d anticipated. But I was so surprised at what I said, and it was a Holy Spirit thing. But I said that Jesus rose from the dead. That means that God is good. And that this tragedy doesn’t change that fact. And I was surprised to find that my faith, over time, in Christ really grew stronger. I didn’t fall away from the Lord but actually grew closer to the Lord. And the thing that was so big is that in that month after I kept on saying to my wife, Lauren, I don’t know how a person could survive something like this if they didn’t believe in the sovereignty of God, or if they didn’t know about the hope of heaven or if they didn’t know about the possibility of joy and suffering, or if they didn’t really understand the gospel, if they didn’t really have a biblical view of sin or whatever. And I was finding that the things that are holding me together were biblical truths. Those were the things that were enabling me to have hope.

Now it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t completely miserable and in incredible sorrow, but spiritually, I did have a sense of hope that my life wasn’t over and that God had a way forward and the Lord was good for me and I could trust him. And so that’s the story that the book Therefore I Have Hope comes out of. I wrote down the truths that were holding me together for about a month. Then I made my own little personal confession and I would read it to just reorient myself to the narrative of hope that I was living under. And so the book is actually kind of working out that as 12 truths, that narrative for a person who’s in the midst of their worst. I talk about my own story in it, the foundation of the book, helping people understand how each one of those truths is instrumental to being able to have hope in suffering.

Chap: Yeah, that’s great. I think there’s all different types of suffering. There’s micro suffering, small suffering. What you’re talking about here is macro suffering, and it can be different things. Obviously losing a child has got to be the worst, but there’s also large macro sufferings as well. And so really, the truths here in the book are helpful in all different macro sufferings that we might be going through. Well, let’s talk about some of those truths. Your first chapter is on grace. So trusting the Lord for his grace, just to focus on the next day or the next hour. Talk a little bit about that.

Cameron: Yeah. I can remember coming home from the hospital. Cam died in his bed, and so I come home from the hospital and we have to go into our house and go into his room. And so we did that right off the bat. And, you know, we were just sitting there thinking and crying, like, what are we going to do? And I can remember it was the Holy Spirit just giving me this sense of we just need the grace for today. That’s what it was, what we need. We just need the grace for today. And a few days later I saw a woman that I had gone to church with, her and her husband, for several years before they lost a child.

And we ran into each other and she said, look, this is how you’re going to have to play this. In the morning, you’re going to have to pray for grace to make it to lunchtime. At lunchtime you’re going to have to pray for grace to make it a dinner time, dinner time you have to pray for grace to make it to bedtime. And at bedtime, you had to pray for grace to sleep. And just this mentality of like, the Lord is a helper and the Lord, he rises up to show his compassion and the Lord gives us what we need and we don’t deserve it. We’re sinners. We don’t deserve it, but, but through Christ, God is generous and gracious to us. And so, you know, basically that’s what I say to people in a pastoral sense if I get the call- I’ve been working at a church for 16 years- I get the call to come be ringside for a tragedy.

What I say to people is, you’re going to need to focus on grace for the moment, grace for today. And I’ll ask people, “do you feel like you can make it through today? Like this one day?” And they’re usually like, yeah. “Well, God has given you the grace for today, but he has not given you the grace for tomorrow.” And he has not given me grace for 10 years from now. And so you have to have this really disciplined mentality of, just for today, just for today, you know, God give me the grace for today. And that’s what Jesus says to do anyhow. While Jesus says to live, let tomorrow worry about tomorrow, today has enough problems. And so just that daily grace mentality,

Chap: To me, that’s an outworking of 2 Corinthians 1 where Paul talks about the pressure that came upon them so that we might learn to rely on the Lord. And so, in one sense, we say, “Oh yeah, I rely on the Lord. I rely on the Lord.” And then yet when this weight is upon us and we can’t move in a sense, there is Paul saying, “I despaired even of life,” the grace just to get up out of bed in the morning, that’s really, that’s really good. Well, you also had a chapter on gospel. I appreciate Rooted Ministry, very gospel focused. But a lot of times I think that can be abstract. So how does that apply to a tragedy like this?

Cameron: Well, I think this chapter could have even been called Cross, because one of the biggest things that you’re struggling with when you enter into a tragedy or enter into your worst is you start to maybe not explicitly, but internally you start to question whether God is good. And that’s really what things kind of boil down to: is God good and is God in control? And you have a great reassurance in the cross. Like we know through the cross that God is for us and God is on our side. And you know that he’s good. And we know that he has our best interests at heart, and that enables us to trust him. If you don’t believe someone’s for you, you’re not going to trust them. And it doesn’t feel like God’s for you when you’re planning a funeral for a loved one.

But when we look to the cross, you want to shout it out, we know that the Lord is good. And then the cross, and the life, death, resurrection, and Ascension of Jesus that, you know, those gospel events create a narrative that we can live under. The narrative that we live under with the gospel is that we were dead in our sins and trespasses. We were hopeless and we were under the wrath of God and Jesus rescued us. And he has now brought us into his light, into his kingdom, into the new creation. And so we live under the Lordship of King Jesus. We have him as our good shepherd and he sent his Holy Spirit to dwell in us and to empower and sustain us in everything he calls us to. So it feels like the narrative of life gets made really disrupted when everything is thrown up in the air, when there’s a tragedy. And so going back to the gospel narrative of what Jesus did, but now, now the place that we live under his Lordship under his goodness under his blessing and favor, uh, gosh, it’s something we should have to revisit over and over again, that gospel narrative.

Chap: How did you and Lauren do that personally? Would you just remind yourself on a regular basis? Like, how would you walk through: You’ve got to be having all sorts of emotions, and again, you’re talking about this thought, God really is not good is the lie in my head. How did you do that practically and personally?

Cameron: You know, for us there were a number of ways. I think we’re really blessed to have a community of people who are praying for us and who were sending us scripture a lot, and we’d get people sending us a scripture encouragement regularly in the first six months. And, and then I think we were both in the word ourselves. I read, I studied the book of Revelation. I studied all of Paul’s letters in the first year. And so I think that was, you know, we were consuming lots of good stuff just because we needed it. We were so desperate to be connected to Jesus, so desperate to be reminded of his promises. And so that’s hard. That can be really hard for people. A lot of times reading your Bible or listening to a podcast for whatever reason can be really painful. But you know, I think a prayer that a person can pray and ask others to pray for them in is that in the midst of a tragedy that they could be in the word and they could be listening to sermons and things of that nature that are encouraging. So that’s part of how we did it.

Chap: In a minute, we’re going to talk about what couples or what individuals can do to help others who have gone through this. And one is just right here: giving scripture. And I wonder if people feel like they’re afraid to say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, but scripture really is a good thing.

Cameron: Yeah, and I think that’s some pastoral wisdom there that you just kind of alluded to, Chap, because a lot of times people will like the first couple of days and the first week, feel like they have to have like the magic bullet and say the perfect thing, or have the perfect Bible verse. And I would say this: the first couple of days, you don’t you don’t need to be sending a ton of scripture to somebody. I would say that’s more valuable- and this is just my personal perspective, and you chime in, you’re a pastor. My personal perspective is that it’s more valuable in the long haul. A couple of weeks down the road, a few months down the road, six months down the road, a year down the road. That’s when that’s a really valuable way to minister to somebody.

And even as you were just talking about being in the word yourself, even if it feels flat, I mean, I know Psalm 1:19, “It was good for me to be afflicted that I might learn your decrees.” And I don’t think I’ve had macro suffering in my family like you have, but during difficult times that I’ve walked through it and I’m just searching, I’m just reading the scripture. And then verses just pop up. I feel like, man, that is a particular promise. My heart has been plowed up by the suffering and those verses, often God will just directly speak to me. So that’s good. Hmm. Well, you had a chapter on joy. The worst can bring deep joy. That’s kind of surprising. Talk about that.

Cameron: Yeah, totally. I know that sounds surprising. But I would say that some of those dark moments in the year after cam died were some of the most joyful too. And I’m not saying they’re happy, because your heart has an incredible amount of sorrow at the emotional level. But spiritually speaking, there is this sense of incredible intimacy with God. You know, my son’s funeral was one of the most joyful experiences of my life because, just the gospel and the resurrection of Jesus and the hope of heaven, God was so, so real in that moment. And it was a very much like a spiritual rubber meets the road moment of now what? This is real, and Jesus did die. And he did rise from the grave and his death was effective for salvation. And my son was blessed to have received that.  And he professed that and he is with God now, and I’m going to see him again, this is not permanent. And like, goodness, in a dark, dark time when you’re at your own child’s funeral for that to be real, that elicits some incredible joy. And then when you’re in the deep weakness and despair and just desperation that you’re feeling, you just call out to the Lord. And when the Lord comes to you in that, there’s just incredible joy and you feel so close to God. And so, yeah, I just think there was such joy in the intimacy I experienced with God, because I was so dependent upon him and calling out to him all the time. I had so many people praying for me. I think that was a factor.

And then also too, seeing the Lord work, seeing the way that God would answer prayers and that God would come through in different ways that that created a lot of joy too. So I think one of the most compelling things about being a Christian is the prospect of having joy, even in terrible circumstances. If you don’t have Jesus in your life, you’re largely going to be a slave to your circumstances. And when things are bad, you’re going to kind of be down when things are good, you’re going to be happy, but it’s very unstable. Whereas if Jesus is the center of your satisfaction, well, then, you can have joy no matter what’s going on. And I think that John Piper has a really good word in terms of seeking glorify God, by finding joy in him. And I think that’s something to really encourage kids in so that when things are bad, they know, you know what, I’m really sad. I’m really disappointed. I’m really hurt, but I can turn to Jesus and I can find joy in Jesus. I’m not a slave to complete and utter misery. I can have joy in Christ and that’s my misery.

Chap: That’s really good. I certainly haven’t studied, but I remember a friend who lost a child telling me that it seemed like non-Christians who had lost a child like that. Ant that’s where their life stopped. And you write in the book about that thankless fraternity being in New York and, and on the bench that’s that was put there by some family that lost a child and feeling an immediate connection to them. And, and so there is this deep bonding. And yet I think as Christians we’re able to go forward. Not without pain. I had another friend talk. He said “There’s scars. And then there’s amputations. And this right now, losing my child, it feels like an amputation.” But having said that, therefore we do have hope even amidst the sadness. Talk a little bit about the chapter on sin. So to mention sin to suffering, people sounds a little, we want to be a little tentative or hesitant. And yet that might be one of your more important chapters. Talk, fill us in on the subject there.

Cameron: Yeah, I think that one of the things I’m really thankful for that saved me from a lot of inner turmoil and misery is that coming into Cam’s death, I had a very full theology of sin. Like I recognized that- and this is hard word, but this is true. This is scripturally true- the second that any of us sin we deserve to die and we deserve to be in hell. One sin, that’s it, boom, done. And that any of us are alive is because we’ve been sustained by God’s mercy, that any of us are not currently alienated from God and eternally under his judgment right now is because of Jesus, because of his grace. And so as a product of that, when you know that the gospel, that everything you have is a product of grace through the life, death, and resurrection Jesus and that the only thing you’ve earned is judgment, that’s actually a very, very freeing thing that protects you in a tragedy. Because one of the worst things that can happen to a person is they become bitter or they feel like God has sold them out or done them wrong and they’ve been treated unfairly by God.

And I mean, I totally understand that feeling. I would go down that road but the thing that protected me from getting into that very dark and, well, just icky miserable place was to remember, God doesn’t owe me anything. You know, Jesus lived a perfect life and he died on a cross and it was because of me. If Jesus, he lived a perfect life, he suffered more than I did, why in the world would I think that, I am owed a more comfortable and less painful life than the Lord Jesus Christ. You know? And so I think that when we don’t have a biblically full view of sin we can become entitled, , and we can completely torpedo our relationship with God because we feel like, I have been a good Christian. I’ve done the right things, man. Like, I quote Matt Chandler. I didn’t have premarital sex. I didn’t go to Terminator 2. But we fall into that, like, God owes me better than this. And, boy, that’ll drive a rift between you and God like nothing else.  And it’s not true. It’s not tre because, like I’ve said, the only thing God owes me is his judgment for my sins against the holy God and what he has given me is salvation.  He’s given me the righteousness of Jesus that I didn’t earn, that Jesus earned. That’s not fair.

There was a lady who I mentioned in the book and she’s just a saint. She’s a saint. She’s one of the most just kind and loving people and pure hearted people I’ve ever met. And when she got cancer, everybody was like, “Why you? You’re just like the greatest person ever.” And she would say back to them, “Why not me? Why not me?” That’s a hard word. And I think that if that’s more of a word of preparation for people, to prepare them to suffer, which is important. Like I think that as a parent or youth pastor something we have to be thinking about is, how do we prepare kids to suffer, because it’s going to happen. And when we soft pedal sin, and we don’t say some of those hard things that I just said in the last few minutes, it does not help them. It really makes them susceptible to bitterness and entitlement when tragedy comes.

Chap: Yeah. That’s really good. I remember one pastor, I heard one pastor say one time, he said, “My job as a pastor is to prepare my people to suffer because whenever it happens, we’re always surprised”. We always ask why me, and you’re right. That is a hard word. And certainly that’s not what you say when someone’s in the midst of it, but you’ve got to have that. You’ve got to have that focus, or you got to have that foundation beforehand so when that suffering comes, we’ll come out on the other side better. I I’ve said to many people, suffering is going to change you. It’s going to change you for the better or it’s, you’re going to come out bitter. And how you walk through it is really important.

Well, let’s finish up. Talk to individuals, not necessarily couples, individuals who would like to help people who the situation has come upon them. Like I said, I can think of six couples that I know of that have lost children. What are some things to do? And then what are some things not to do? We’ve already talked about giving scripture down the road, but what are some things to say, to do, to not say, to not do?

Cameron: Yeah, sure. Well, let’s talk about some things not to do, I would say, two things not to do first off- and this is true across the board- but it can be a very risky thing to try to share common experience. You know, like you may have had lost your parent when you were eight years old and you’re talking to someone who’s lost a child and you’re trying to make that comparison. Hey, what you went through is really hard and really tough. And there’s just a lot of risk because you’d have a lot of people try to do that, try to share a common experience. That is almost insulting, but you’re telling me, you’re trying to compare these two things. And so I would say refrain from sharing common experiences, even when I talked to people, who’ve lost children, I’ll say, “In some ways I know what you’re going through, but also I don’t because I didn’t lose your child. You’re the only one who lost your child in your way. And so no one, but you can know what it’s like for you to lose your special child.” And so I would be really careful about trying to build a bond or make connections via sharing common experience.

The second thing I would say is, do not let fear of awkwardness deter you from entering into the situation. I can remember just a really tragic situation as a youth pastor, where I had a student whose parents both died in a plane crash, and the student had gone to gone to college. And so it was me and another local youth pastor who kind of knew him. And so I called him and I was like, “Hey, we need to get over there. We need to go just enter into the child’s house and see the child and be there.”  And the other guy’s like, “Man, it’s a little awkward. I’m not really sure what to say.” And he kind of hesitated and he didn’t go. And I will say, I think people can be really aware of who avoids them and it can be really, really hurtful, the person who doesn’t acknowledge it at all. And so here, let me tell you how you deal with awkwardness. You just enter in and you say, “I don’t know what to say.” You know, “I just don’t know what to say. I wish I had the magic words, but I’m just so sorry. And I love you and I care about you and I just want to show up so that you see that you’re important to me, and I’m here.”  Just to say, “I don’t know what to say. “

That’s a great thing to say. It dispels all the awkwardness. So those are some things. Don’t avoid the situation. And don’t try to share a common experience. Things to do: show up for one, pray for them. That really matters. And then here’s the thing: after about three months, people kind of start to move on and that’s when things get really lonely. I know someone who lost a child about five or six months ago, I’m going to send him an email right after this conversation just to say, Hey, this was a very lonely time for me because I thought a lot of people had forgotten. And I just want to let you know that I’m praying for you. I still remember, and I know that you’re in such a, so much sorrow right now. So you know, that doesn’t just end, that doesn’t just stop at like, six months.

I can remember going and had some students who they had lost their dad. And it was about four years previous. And so after Cam died, I went and got together with each of them. And I was like, how is this for you now? And did just be cognizant that at big moments in life, at transition points for the person who’s lost a loved one, lost a spouse, lost a child, lost a sibling, lost a parent, their absence is going to be felt. That student I’m talking about, when she gets married, whenever that happens, she’s going to feel that her dad is not the one walking her down the aisle. There’s going to be some sadness. And so to have that awareness that, to show up for them for life and just to acknowledge that, Hey, I know that your dad died 15 years ago, but I also know that there is probably some sadness that he’s not here at your graduation, or he’s not here at your wedding or whatever it is that that goes a long way was a really long way.

And last thing I would say is remember anniversaries. Put them in your phone, put a reminder on them because the anniversary of a loved one’s death, particularly death of a child, it’s an awful day. I think I’ve had seven of those now and they’re miserable, you know? And it is just so special to us, the people who on November the 11th, shoot us a text or give us a call. Or we’ll even have people who send us flowers every year. It’s just amazing.

So, you know, I always say, pastoral care, show up, shut up, show up again, show up immediately, just be there. And I say, shut up, don’t try to have the perfect words. You are not going to save the day. There’s nothing you’re going to say that’s going to save the day, just be there. Your presence really matters. And then show up again, be the person who has the pastoral wisdom to like continue to show up for them for life. Because with these tragic losses, you just don’t ever outrun it until you see Jesus’ face to face. That doesn’t mean that you’re miserable. I’m as happy as I’ve ever been in my life. I’m flourishing. I’m so thankful for the life the Lord has given me. And I’m not saying that like I would pick or choose or sign up to lose a child and you know, whatever God ordains is right. And I’m grateful for what the Lord has given me through that. I’m grateful for the opportunities we have to minister and to serve as a result of this. So it’s not to say I’m grateful that he died, but I, and the Lord has been generous and gracious to me through that tragedy.

And I’m thankful for the Lord has given me out of it. And so those two things can be simultaneously true. And so I think for, for Lauren and me to show up for people who lose children and just be like, Your life’s not ruined. It’s really not. It’s You’ve got a long road to hoe and you’ve got a wound you’re going to carry for the rest of your life, and I’m really joyful. I’m excited about today and I’m excited about tomorrow and maybe we’ll pick up another national title -it’s coming, Chap. You never know.

Chap: Yeah, that’s really good, and that’s just an easy way. So besides pastors, just regular people, I think can minister. Scripture tells us to minister to the widow and the orphan and, you know, okay, I should send some money overseas. That’s can kind of be an abstract verse, but when somebody loses a spouse, when somebody loses their parents, they are an orphan. And one way you can care for them is what you’re talking about, which is to say, be there long-term if you’re close, and then also the anniversaries. Would you say, because I’ve thought of this with one of the families that I stay in touch with, it’s not the day. It’s the week before the day.

Cameron: I think that’s particularly true in the early going, you know what I mean? There’s a sense of dread in the first few years leading up to that day. And so, yeah, I think that’s a really wise thing. Like a few days before say, “I want to let you know I know what Tuesday is, and we’ll be praying for you and you’re on my heart.” It goes a long way.

Chap: We’ll finish up by speaking directly to parents who are in this thankless fraternity. What would you say if you had someone in front of you?

Cameron: I have a couple of people who are, I have a former student who’s lost a child in the last month. So that’s a kid that was in my youth group 16 years ago. So everything’s kind of coming full circle in that way. But I think the first thing I say is, “Your life is not ruined.” My God really is a healer. And I can remember Nancy Guthrie. Nancy and her husband had lost two children and they have retreats for people who’ve lost children like three times a year. And she said that God is a healer. And that just stuck with me. Yeah, you’re right, God can heal the heart and the God can heal your heart. There’s that limp that you’ll have, but that limp doesn’t have to dominate your life.

So I think just to trust the Lord and know that he can restore you and that you’re not done. We know some older family friends of ours; they lost a child 20 years before Cam died. And he said, this was our prayer. And this is my prayer for you. That there would be a day when our daughter’s memory would bring us incredible joy, and that that the dominant feeling when her name was mentioned is the joy that she was our daughter and the joy of who she was, and the joy that she’s with Jesus now. So there really is hope that God can restore you and heal you, and you’re not finished.

Chap: And in your situation- not everybody’s situation- but in your situation one year later, what?

Cameron: Yeah, on the one-year anniversary of our son’s funeral, our third child Hutch was born. That was not a C-section and that was not scheduled or an induction. My wife’s water broke at one in the morning we made a mad dash to the hospital. We were there for 17 minutes before William Hutchins Cole the Fourth game into the world. And so the Lord was really kind to us to bless us with another boy. It was an incredible kindness to kind of communicate to us Oh, I see you. And I’m for you. And I’m with you. I’m not done with you that he came on that anniversary. It was very much an incredible, like poetic- you know, there was death on this day and there’s a new life on this day.

Chap: Well, this has been great. And the book is Therefore I Have Hope, which is really just personally pressing, great scriptural teaching with an event that really is the worst. So thanks for writing it, Cameron.

Cameron: Well, thanks be to God for being so gracious to me and enabling me to do it. And thanks for having me on the podcast. Always lovely to talk to you.

Chap: Well, I love your Rooted Ministry, and we’re going to have you back.

Cameron. Thanks, man. I’m looking forward to it. God bless you.