Suffering Without Despair

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On Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 44-year-old Ingrid Williams, wife of Oklahoma City Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams, was killed in a head-on collision when the driver of the oncoming vehicle crossed over into Ingrid’s lane going twice the legal speed limit. Ingrid died the next day.  She left behind her husband, Monty Williams, and their five children, ages 5 to 17.

The shock waves that followed the announcement of her death reverberated beyond the sports world.  As the news spread, the outpouring of emotion from those who knew Monty and Ingrid gave all of us who didn’t know them a sense that Ingrid and Monty were very special. Monty’s basketball career as both player and coach had brought them into the lives of many people.  It was clear that Ingrid and Monty, Despite having five children of their own to raise, Ingrid and Monty clearly felt called to serve others. Not only did they welcome into their family NBA players who needed comfort and counsel, but they also actively supporting prison ministries, adults with disabilities, homeless mothers, at-risk children and others – all without any fanfare.

Monty’s 7-minute tribute during Ingrid’s funeral has been widely watched – if you haven’t seen it, it is more than worth your time to do so.

There is no doubt that Monty Williams is suffering, but many people on social media expressed astonishment at how he seemed to be suffering without despair, wondering how that was possible.  I don’t think we have to wonder because I believe Monty gave us the answer as part of his 7-minute tribute:

“God is good.”

“God is love.”

"All of this will work out.”

“As hard as this is for me and my family, and for you, this will work out. “

Think about that. This 44-year-old man, whose wife had just been killed, who now has the sole responsibility for raising five children, and who by all accounts was blessed with a truly exceptional marriage, says, “All of this will work out.”  And you can just sense that he truly believes this.

How can he say that? How can he believe that?

Again, the answer is in Monty’s 7-minute tribute:

“I know this because I’ve seen this in my life.  See, back in 1990, at the University of Notre Dame, I had a doctor look me in the face and say, “You’re gonna die if you keep playing basketball.” And I had testing done. Test after test, shipping me all over the place trying to find a way for me to play, and it didn’t work out.”

"And I kept that from Ingrid. She knew I was having some tests done, but she didn’t know the severity of the situation.

"So, my career was over at the age of 18, and we had a press conference, and I left the press conference by myself and I went to her dorm room and I told her what happened. And the very next words out of her mouth after we probably cried a little bit, she said, “Honey, Jesus can heal your heart.”

"And I’m evidence that God can work it out.”

"I don’t care what you’re going through. This is hard for my family, but this will work out. And my wife would punch me if I were to sit up here and whine about what’s going on. That doesn’t take away the pain. But it will work out because God causes all things to work out. You just can’t quit. You can’t give in.”

Monty Williams is not naïve. He knows how difficult the road ahead will be for he and his children. But he knows with certainty that things will work out because he can look back on his life and see how God worked things out during past difficulties and challenges.

Most of us will thankfully never face the kind of suffering that Monty Williams currently faces, but we all will most definitely suffer.  The question is, will we suffer with or without despair?

Monty Williams is suffering without despair because he chooses to look back on his life and see that “God causes all things to work out.”

Each of us has personal examples from our lives as well that are evidence that “God causes all things to work out.”  Take inventory of your examples.  Ponder them. Thank God for them.  Then draw on them when suffering enters your life.  If you do, then just like Monty Williams you will suffer, but you will suffer without despair.