Asking “Why?” can be a millstone.
I know what happened. I know when it happened. I know how it happened. I know to whom it happened. The entire USAFA family knows the answers to all those questions.
None of us know why. And the weight of not knowing why is unbearable.
Why did Cadet Christopher Scott Ryong Adams need to leave us? Why will all the hopes and dreams and promises go unfulfilled? We will never know. It’s God’s plan, not ours.
I often tell my kids that there are a lot of things I don’t understand about our world, so I’m compiling a list. When I die, I will sit down with God and He can finally explain it all. I will add Christopher Scott Ryong Adams to that list.
The prayers went beyond his family, beyond USAFA. My Facebook feed (including posts to Naval Academy parent pages I am a part of) was filled with parents’ pleas for the cadet and his family. First, prayers for healing. Then, prayers for a miracle. Now, prayers for peace.
Some will wonder why the prayers went unanswered. I do not. In my experience, there are three answers to prayer – Yes, No, and Not Now.
We all prayed for healing. We all prayed for a miracle. God answered all those prayers. The answer was No.
I asked why the answer was no. God answers, “Not Now.” The weight is crushing.
We all know what our kids sign up for when they accept an appointment to a military academy – academic rigor, physical and emotional challenges, incredible opportunities, and, yes, jobs that can put you in life-threatening positions, positions of sacrifice. And perhaps with the latter, the “Why?” is more easily answered. If Chris became an Air Force pilot and died during a military mission, the tears would be for a man who was doing what he was meant to do. If Chris had served for many years and lived the long life we all hope for, his passing would have been marked as a milestone for a man who fulfilled his dream and protected his country.
But we’ll never know where his potential and drive and passion could have taken him.
We all know our sons and daughters are going to lose members of their squadron, their class, and others with whom they attend USAFA. That’s the nature of the military, whether it’s during a training exercise, some inexplicable act of violence, or military actions. But I’ve come to learn that we must be prepared to lose some of these beloved people well before their time. My son lost a few during his four years at the Naval Academy, including one Midshipman who collapsed during PRT and a star football player who was found slumped in his dorm room. His response was simple – “The whole Brigade is hurting.”
And now, so are we. There is no answer for “Why?” And the weight is paralyzing.
I have no words to console or comfort other than to say the grief is ours, not his. He is in a better place while we are left here to grieve his absence.
And I am reminded again of a line from a song that sustained me through many dark times: “There are no answers, only reasons to be strong.”
A prayer of comfort adapted for the family
Lord, we pray that the family of Christopher Scott Ryong Adams feel the peace of your love and comfort in their grief. They raised a young man prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for his country though You called him home according to Your plan. Help them keep his memory alive to inspire others and help his fellow cadets through this time of loss and mourning. We pray that You give the family the strength to cope with the daily challenges of his absence in the days, weeks, months, and years to come. Amen.