24 Jun Grieving the Loss of Stephen Hampton
By now, sufficient time seems to have passed to share publicly about this week’s loss of Stephen Hampton. At a too young age of about 21, and recently graduated from Wheaton College in Chicago, Illinois, Stephen was apparently struck and killed by a train on Sunday, June 17 in Germany. Click here to read Wheaton’s public statement on Stephen’s death. (UPDATE on Wed., June 27, 2007: For some reason, Wheaton seems to have completely removed the notice about Stephen’s death from their website, so the link will get you nowhere. Sorry. I have had a number of people emailing me regarding information on Stephen’s memorial. As soon as I know when and where it is, I will post it on the blog.)
Stephen was practically born and raised at NewHeart. The youngest of three brothers, his parents are strong and committed believers in Jesus. The Hampton family was a vital part of NewHeart for most of Stephen’s life.
I will never forget Stephen’s dry and quick wit. For such a young man, Stephen was a deep thinker, always questioning and searching God’s Word for Who God really is and all He really stands for. Stephen always wanted to be sure that who he was lined up with who God wanted him to be.
Stephen always struck me as someone who not only said he was going to change his world (and he did say so often!), but would actually do it. Stephen was going places!
I never questioned whether or not one place Stephen would go would be heaven, but I never would have thought he would go this early (not that any of us think such about our youngest ones). My heart has been wrenched this week, so I cannot imagine the heartbreak and loss that his parents, family, and closer friends are feeling. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to them as they deal with this senseless tragedy.
Anytime someone so young is snatched from our supposed grip in this life, we’re left with the unanswerable questions. Why? Why now? Why so young? What purpose does this loss serve? I have no answers to the questions, only the questions along with those who ask them.
What I do know is that we stand on this side of eternity and God stands on the other. I believe things look completely different to Him than they do to us. His Word declares it so in Isaiah 55:8-9 ….
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I don’t and won’t pretend to know the gravity of the loss those closer to Stephen than I am may feel or experience right now. All I CAN say is that God is with us through the darkest of days and the deepest of valleys. He stands not just upon the mountaintops waiting for us to arrive there, but walks with us through the raging rivers that threaten to steal our joy and cripple our faith.
Through the grief, I declare my stand with the Hampton’s for strength, comfort, peace, grace, and courage.