Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Sovereignty of God in "Mistaken Identity"

It's easy to praise God when life seems good and everything is going your way, but how do you respond when the worst tragedies imaginable happen in your life? It's easy to tell someone that they should turn to God for strength and comfort when they face trials, but what do you say when those trials happen to you? What do you say when that trial in your life is the loss of a child?

I came across an article about a new book that addresses some of those questions. It tells the story of how two families recovered from tragic loss through Faith in a Sovereign God and how mistaken identity would play a part in it. I thought the article was worth sharing as it points towards God's Sovereignty even when we don't understand it.

Whitney Cerak says in 'Mistaken Identity' book she still asks why she survived crash

by Dave Murray | The Grand Rapids Press

Wednesday March 26, 2008, 7:11 AM

GRAND RAPIDS -- There were hints, early on, that Laura Van Ryn's family missed.

While tending to the bandaged young woman in the hospital bed, the family did not recognize the clothes that staff in a Fort Wayne, Ind., hospital told them belonged to Laura.

Her brother noticed her teeth seemed different and, later, her sister was surprised to see her navel was pierced.

Their doubts grew when a Spectrum Health therapist in Grand Rapids asked the college student believed to be Van Ryn to write her name, and they saw what she printed in big letters: W-H-I-T-N-E-Y.

"I'm the only person I know who's listened to her own funeral," the 20-year-old says in the epilogue of a new book written by the families whose lives were intertwined in an ordeal of joy, sorrow and faith. "That was pretty weird."

Why did she survive the wreck on April 26, 2006, when four fellow students and a staff member from Taylor University in Upland, Ind., did not?

"I still don't get that," Cerak writes in "Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hope," released Tuesday. "Maybe I'm not supposed to. Even if I can't figure it out, I know that God has a purpose for it, even if I never completely understand what it may be."

Cerak, who grew up in Gaylord, spent five weeks in a coma while the parents of Laura Van Ryn stood vigil by her side, believing she was their daughter.

Authorities in Grant County, Ind., had confused the two young women during the chaotic aftermath of the collision between a semi-truck and a school van on Int.-69, midway between Indianapolis and Fort Wayne. Their blond hair and even some facial features were similar.

Whitney Cerak

Laura Van Ryn

Cerak's parents, Newell and Colleen Cerak, declined to view the body they believed was their daughter's, preferring to remember Whitney as she had appeared in life.

Meanwhile, Don and Susie Van Ryn, of Caledonia Township, believed her appearance had been altered by facial injuries. Only when she began mentioning strange names while slowly regaining consciousness did they suspect something was amiss, the 275-page book explains.

Clerks at two area Family Christian Stores said copies of "Mistaken Identity" were selling shortly after doors opened at 10 a.m.

Don and Susie Van Ryn wrote of how they spent five weeks at the bedside of a woman they believed to be their 22-year-old daughter. Their story is mingled with that of Newell and Colleen Cerak, of Gaylord, who thought they buried their 18-year-old daughter, only to discover she survived the crash.

Both families share how their faith provided the strength to accept what happened, and they wrote the book with Mark Tabb, a former Indiana pastor. It was published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.

"None of us are in any way unique or special. We are simply average people who have accepted God's love for us, demonstrated through Jesus Christ's death and resurrection," say the families in the prologue to "Mistaken Identity."


Whitney Cerak says two things about God that I think more people need to hear. The first thing she says is that God has a purpose for what happened.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28

God is Sovereign. God is in control. He has a plan and it is for the good of those who love Him. If we are to find comfort in anything, it should definitely be in the fact that God is ultimately working for our good.

The second thing she says is that she doesn't know God's purpose for this event and even if she never understands it, that's OK. God is Sovereign. God is in control. She admits that maybe she's not even supposed to know why this happened.

Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.


Paul & Gretchen said...

Well you have my attention with this book and hope to check it out one day. It does make you stand back and think about things. Not to long ago we heard a man speak at his 2 year olds funeral and the things he shared were amazing. He knew God had a plan and a reason for taking his baby boy and the Word God gave him for the people that day was challenging and powerful. It challenged me though to ask the question have I trusted my kids in the Lord's hands completely? Can I say they are yours Lord not mine Your will be done whatever the cost. The truth be known I'm not there yet.

Greg & Edna Silva said...

I know what you mean. We sat at a funeral for a 19 year old soldier from my unit who was killed in Iraq. His father said that no one took his son's life because his son freely gave it. He also told us that he trusted that the Lord had a purpose for the life and death of his son. I don't know if I could be that strong.


Anonymous said...

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