How to Find Hope and Joy in the Face of Tragedy

Despite her sister’s murder, Dawn Smith Jordan allowed God to use her life in amazing ways.

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Posted in , Apr 21, 2016

How to find hope and joy in the of tragedy

Most of us have watched news footage of crimes that been committed against innocent folks and had our hearts ache for what they went through. We care, but after a few moments of empathy, we go back to our daily routines.

But for those who have been touched by those horrific events, life is never the same again.

I remember thinking about that a number of years ago when I watched a movie, Nightmare in Columbia County

It was the tragic story of 17-year-old Shari Smith who’d been abducted from her driveway, leading to national media attention and the largest manhunt that had ever been conducted in South Carolina.

After murdering Shari, her abductor placed eight phone calls to Shari’s family, often talking with her sister, Dawn, in chilling, heart-rending conversations. The murderer eventually gave Dawn directions to Shari’s body.

I couldn’t imagine the depths of grief and fear the Smiths went through, and I’d often wondered what happened to them in the years after that. So I looked forward to meeting Dawn Smith Jordan when I discovered that she’d do the music for the worship sessions at the Carolina Christian Writers Conference where I’d also be on faculty.

When Dawn stepped onto the platform, I immediately noticed her beauty. No surprise since she was crowned as Miss South Carolina (1986) and was 2nd runner-up to Miss America.

But what struck me was her joy. She literally glowed as she sang. Where so many people would have been bitter, allowing those horrible moments to ruin their lives, Dawn chose joy—and because of that, God’s been able to use her life in an amazing way.

Read More: Mornings with Jesus Devotional

I spent a little time with Dawn later that day at the conference. I asked her how she’d survived those awful days, and I loved her reply:  “The marvelous thing about God is that the deeper the tragedy, the greater the grace.”

Dawn said that part of the healing came from her sister, Shari: “Shari's murderer allowed her to write a letter of farewell to us, saying: ‘Please don't let this ruin your lives. Just keep living one day at a time for Jesus. Remember, everything works out for the good to those that love the Lord. Some good will come of this.’”

Dawn and Shari’s words are a vivid reminder that none of what we live through goes to waste. God can use all of it for His glory if we’ll tell others about what He’s done for us.

That’s what Dawn has accomplished, sharing her testimony across the country, proving that God can bring joy in the midst of our darkest days…if we’ll just let Him.

How could God use your life story to help someone else?

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