In the death-defeating language of the Bible, last week Andrew James Chase—beloved son and grandson—fell asleep in Jesus.

He was 4½ days young.

He came into the world early. He entered by C-Section three months before his due date. Weight: 1 lb. 12 oz. Length: 12 inches.

He entered wounded and gutsy. Wounded because he had Down syndrome and associated complications. Andrew James had lung and heart trouble and cranial bleeding. Gutsy because as a nurse said, “He doesn’t like being messed with.” (The gutsy part brought smiles to both his grandfathers’ faces!)

His father and mother (Peter and Meredith Chase), maternal grandparents (Larry and Mary Lyn Barnett), and paternal grandparents (Sue and I), asked, sought, and knocked, crying to the Father of mercies and God of all comfort to spare Andrew James.

He didn’t.

On his third day, our precious boy had successful surgery. On his fourth day his condition deteriorated. On his fifth day he was taken off his ventilator. Twenty minutes later he was in the presence of Jesus.

Peace in the Valley

We’re finding many sweet things as we walk through the valley of the shadow. I share two:

1. We’re finding that the love of Christians is practical. It’s a Good Samaritan that doesn’t just talk about helping those mugged on life’s Jericho Road. It reaches out in palpable ways. We’ve had hundreds of Christian Samaritans showing us love through prayers; pastoral visits; words of encouragement; phone calls; texts; posts; errands run; chores performed; and meals—to mention just a few of their “labors of love” (1 Thessalonians 1:2). All done spontaneously, voluntarily, and generously. Why? Because they follow a Lord who says, “Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (1 John 13:34).

So, to every Christian who showered us with love, each of us in the Chase/Barnett family says, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:4).

2. We are finding that the soul-bracing, God-honoring truths of Grace Focused Optimism work in the worst of times.

Echoing Dickens, the loss of a child is “the worst of times.”

And echoing Paul, “I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not” when I say that Christian grief over the loss of a child is both similar to the grief of unbelievers and different from theirs.

Like unbelievers we hurt. Unlike them, we have help that make us “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).

Like unbelievers in the death of a loved one, we hurt. Our heart’s pain now is severer than the bodily agonies of kidney stones and labor pains—combined. Again and again, we experience shoulder-shaking, tear-flooding, stomach-churning sobbing.

We hurt.

But unlike unbelievers, we’re being helped. We say to God’s glory, the wonder drug powerful truths of Grace-Focused Optimism are enabling us to manage our pain in a Christian way.

Optimism Amid our Pain

We are optimistic because our heavenly Father is the One who is dealing with us. Andrew James didn’t come or leave early by chance. We say about his 4 and ½ days what Jesus said to Pilate: “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). Jesus was talking about His and, through Him, our Father—Abba. Andrew James’ disease and death and our disappointment and distress have ABBA’S fingerprints on them. These things have happened because Abba saw fit for them to happen.

This makes us optimistic amid our pain.

We are optimistic because our Father always deals with us in love. He hasn’t allowed this because He’s mad at us. He’s allowed it because He’s mad about us. Do we feel loved? Frankly, no. Do we believe Father’s love is in this? Yes. And our belief isn’t what an atheist describes as “an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable.” It’s no mirage because it’s believing the most trustworthy Person there is.

Our Abba.

If Abba were ever going to break His word it would have been when His Son cried in agony from the cross. But He gave His word that He’d save us through the death of His Son (Genesis 3:15). When the time came for Him to keep that promise He kept it (2 Corinthians 1:18-20). And, my friends, if He kept THAT promise can we doubt that He’s keeping His promise to us that “the Lord disciplines those He LOVES” (Hebrews 12:5-6, emphasis mine)? No, a thousand times! He’s acting in love in everything He’s doing with Andrew James.

This makes us optimistic amid our pain.

We are optimistic because in love our heavenly Father is carrying out His grace Purpose for us through our experience with Andrew James. His Grace Purpose is to “wipe away all (our) tears” (Revelation 21:4.) by making us perfectly and permanently happy by making us perfectly and permanently like Jesus. That’s His definition of “good” (Romans 8:28-29). It’s the most loving thing He can do for us. And He’s doing that now.

An example: we’re relying more and more on Abba the way an infant relies on its parents. This childlikeness is the essence of Christ-likeness (Matthew 18:2-4). But since Abba multi-tasks, we have no doubt that there are many other ways He’ll use this to help us and others become more like His Son. And we know that His Grace Purpose will produce Grace Praise when Jesus returns and we see that in everything, including our experience with Andrew James, Abba has been our “good, good Father.”

This makes us optimistic amid our pain.

The Fight for Optimism

 In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress Christian and Hopeful come to the river they must cross to enter glory. Death. Christian’s afraid. Hopeful’s not. He steps in then turns back and says, “Be of good cheer, my brother for I have felt the bottom and it is good.”

The fight of faith is the fight to remain optimistic about God in pessimistic circumstances. No doubt we will have to fight every day, all day long, for many days to come. Please pray daily for us that we might be “strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Ephesians 6:10).

Still, we would dishonor our loving Father if we failed to confess that we have thus far found His grace sufficient as He continues demonstrating His strength to us in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Again and again, we are finding that as we focus on His grace He keeps us optimistic about Him. And we believe with John Newton that the grace that has led us safe thus far will safely bring us home.

We are finding Grace-Focused Optimism enabling us to say to all of our dear friends in Christ:


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3 Responses to “Be of Good Cheer, My Brother; I Feel the Bottom and It is Good”: Reflections on the Death of Andrew James Chase
  1. So beautifully written and shared at such a difficult time. Surely our Savior will use Andrew James and the testimony of the faithful that surrounded him to witness to many. I am heart broken for you and my prayers are with you. Love, Lynne Patterson

  2. This is really great Charley. Thank you for sharing and being so genuine. Such a good read. He is a trustworthy Lord even through the dark times. That is what I wanted and needed to hear the most! I know that, but I have to be reminded he makes no mistakes!


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