By Whaid Rose

Reflections on the passing of David Ross and words of encouragement to Makayla, her girls, and the Artios Community

Life in our fallen world presents us with regular occasions to grieve. We grieve job change, loss of health, divorce, and major life transitions.

But nothing rocks our world like the death of a loved one, which is what Makayla Ross, Artios’ Co-Director, just experienced. Walking with her husband David through the valley of the shadow of death for weeks, Makayla watched him take his last breath this past Sunday evening, May 16th.

This isn’t the outcome I and many others throughout our church (here in the USA and around the world) were desperately praying for.

That a bout with COVID-19 would mark the end of David Ross’ testimony seemed unthinkable. That this bright young man with such promise would be cut off in the prime of life doesn’t make sense. That Makayla would become a widow, and that their three precious little girls will have to grow up without their daddy, just isn’t fair.

Occasions like this evoke questions, even doubt, and invite us to ponder the role of suffering in the Christian experience. And they point us to the cross, the ultimate story of suffering and loss, out of which has come the greatest good.

So like Job, who, in the vortex of grief after losing ten children on the same day, we join with Makayla in saying, “The Lord gives, and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

So on behalf of the Artios Christian College family, I extend condolence and prayers for Makayla and her girls. Please know that we truly care and join you in your grief at this time. David came down with COVID just weeks into his new appointment as Dean of Academic Affairs of Artios Christian College, making this a multi-layered loss for the Artios community.

In the introduction to C. S. Lewis’ book, A Grief Observed, Douglas Gresham, Lewis’ step-son, writes the following about Lewis’ experience when his wife died:

“C. S. Lewis, the writer of so much that is so clear and so right, the thinker whose acuity of mind and clarity of expression enabled us to understand so much, this strong and determined Christian, he too fell headlong into the vortex of whirling thoughts and feelings and dizzily groped for support and guidance deep in the dark chasm of grief.”

If grief was as real and difficult for someone as bright as C. S. Lewis, we can’t escape it. Everyone grieves, and we do so in different ways. While some ways of grieving are healthier than others, at the end of the day there’s no one right way to grieve. The important thing is that we end up at Jesus, who Scripture says is “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

Seeing Jesus weep at the grave of Lazarus not only gives us permission to grieve but encourages us in the process. It calls to mind the mystery of faith and suffering captured by our Lord when He assured Lazarus’ grief-stricken sisters that this, too, is for the glory of God (John 11:40). And it points us to “sustaining grace,” which John Piper describes it this way:

“No grace to bar what is not bliss,

Nor flight from all distress—but this:

Grace that orders our trial and our pain,

And then is there to sustain.”

May His grace sustain us through this difficult time.

In resurrection hope,

Whaid Rose

The Artios Center