“My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life”-Psalm 119:50
Death. Loss. Pain.
These are just a few words that describe what students at GCU have been going through this past semester.... four wonderful students were called home to our King, into the arms of our loving Father...but the aching inside our chests, the tears shed, and the sadness this campus has faced have been overwhelming…but it has not overtaken us. It's brought us down...down to our knees in prayer, surrendering pain and mourning together.
On Monday, April 9th, the student body (more like student family) here at GCU was hit by the unexpected, tragic, and heartbreaking loss of a brother in Christ. The devastation spread throughout campus like a wildfire, passersby went by with tear-stained faces and silence lingered among groups of friends as the sorrow and pain sunk in.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.”-John 16:20
But there's something different about how GCU handles grief, something so unique and rare among college campuses: no one is in it alone. The tears are shared together, the silence and remembrance sit heavy in the hearts of those gathered, and people hug strangers with warm and caring embraces. And this smoke that so often becomes suffocating and deadly, begins to be overtaken by the love and pure compassion of those mourning together as a community, as a family of brothers and sisters in Christ.
As I sat in Chapel on this day, tears flowed down and burned my cheeks as pastor Tim re-shared the horrific news to those who hadn’t heard. Hundreds upon hundreds of college students and not a sound could be heard except for the snuffling of noses.
As he read the names, each one made my heart grow heavier and heavier, and as I looked up at my GCU family there wasn't a dry eye in sight. Hazy wet gazes were met throughout the room and a sense of understanding and unity was shared at that moment.
After an amen was shared the room erupted in the most sorrowful, longing, and beautiful sound of worship and praise was echoed throughout the room in the coming together of a powerful voice formed by the GCU family.
Words can barely describe or bring justice to this moment, this moment where the sound of voices shared was louder than I've ever heard at one of GCU's Chapel services in the three years I've been here.
As I write these words I'm filled with sorrow but also awe. Complete awe of the God we serve and love. I’m left in amazement at how great His love is and how it’s so powerful that it can mend together even the most shattered and broken hearts together, and create something more beautiful than before. I'm blown away by how he can bring beauty from the pain and turn a tragedy into a triumph...
The flames still burn and the smoke still stings our lungs, each breath still feels heavy, but we're still breathing. We're pushing through knowing the flames will eventually be tamed and that our lifeline, our oxygen mask, comes through the shared love for Christ within this humbling and embracing family of GCU.
“We joke a lot about the four pillars of GCU because we’re forced to watch the same introduction video millions of times throughout our time here but when tragedy strikes we cling to them. The pillar of Christian Camaraderie especially.”-Amanda Holt (GCU student)
“If you were to ask 10 students what they love most about GCU, 9/10 would say “the people here”.People walk onto this campus and all they can say is, “wow”.The difference first and foremost is God’s outpouring of blessing upon this campus. God is doing BIG things here.Secondly, on this campus you find the most amazing people, who are so incredibly friendly, loving and passionate.We celebrate together the joys of life. But when hard things happen, we run to God and into each other’s arms. Knowing that any stranger on their way to class, GCBC, or some event would stop and ask you how you’re doing, and be willing to be there for you in prayer and support.Tragedy is poison in this broken world we live in. Thankfully, we’ve been given the antidote: Jesus.” -Austin Rockwell (GCU student)