Message from the Alumni Director
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.” Genesis 50:20
Have you ever experienced a time of loss? The loss of a job, your health, a committed relationship, a marriage, a dream, a child, or a loved one? Throughout life’s journey the road is often met with hardship — difficult seasons that seem unjust and unfair.
On Facing Loss
Dr. Rob Hildebrand shared with our student body in chapel this past week about his own journey of loss. At 24 years of age, he lost both of his parents in a terrible automobile accident. On the eve of what was anticipated to be a beautiful event — the wedding of a close family friend — Rob’s mother and father, along with the parents of the bride, were traveling home when struck by another vehicle that had failed to adhere to a stop sign. The impact was severe, taking the life of both his parents, as well as the father of the bride. As you can imagine, it was a pretty emotional retelling of events as he recounted this incredible time of loss in his own life.
He walked through what was described as being “a dark night of the soul” — orphaned and feeling more alone than ever before. He was wrestling with intense and weighted emotions while trying to discern the voice of the Lord saying, “I love you, and it is going to be OK.” All the while the enemy, not too far away, kept calling, “This is so unfair, and you don’t deserve this!”
“These are life defining moments,” Rob said. In times of loss, when faced with difficult decisions, what we do with our pain matters. As Dr. Hildebrand chose to trust the Lord, he was able to forgive the man responsible for taking what was most precious to him. When wrongful things happen to us, we can either choose to hold on to bitterness and allow it to consume our lives, or we can choose to trust God’s sovereignty and experience the freedom that comes when we do.
Joseph’s story in the Old Testament reminds us of God’s power demonstrated through the act of such forgiveness. As one who had every right to hold onto bitterness — hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused, forgotten in prison — Joseph chose to honor God and God used his life for the greater purpose of saving hundreds of thousands of people. “You intended to harm me,” Joseph said, “but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
Grief And Forgiveness
Closing our time together, Dr. Hildebrand read for us the letter he had written after his parents were taken in the accident. Below is a paraphrased portion of that letter:
“Dear Sir,… I’m told that you were the one driving the car that killed my parents on the night of September 8, 1995.… I’ve wanted to tell you since the moment I first heard of the crash…I forgive you!… I believe there is a God who sovereignly controls the course of human events.... He uses and guides these events toward some greater good.… I’m confident that this God is still at work despite the pain that this event has brought to me and my brothers. I also want you to experience this forgiveness because I am a man who has had his sins forgiven by this same God.… This path has not always been easy…but God has been faithful…. We have not allowed our pain and our anger to consume us. We have not harbored that bitterness in our hearts. We have found freedom from it and I hope that you can find this same freedom….”
While we may not always understand the reasoning behind our difficult circumstances, my prayer is that He would give us faith to stand firm in what we know to be true about Him. And as we do, may we grow in learning to trust a God who is good and sovereign while always at work in the lives of His children.
Remembering a greater plan and a greater purpose,
Michelle M. Peel, BA ’00, MA ‘10
Director of Alumni Relations