You can read the story of what happened to Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe here ----->



Healing from Emotional Sunburn

Some thoughts on the tragedies that invade our lives – in particular the story of Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe.  I hope the following is encouraging to anyone who has suffered a tragic loss.


Have you ever had a bad sunburn on your back and shoulders? You stayed out in the sun too long, and now you can’t stand even the slightest touch on the affected area of your skin. To relieve the pain, you put on some lotion and the lightest clothing you can find.


And then without warning, someone comes along and slaps you on the back and says, “How’s it going?” At that moment, it is going very badly and you gasp from the pain that shoots through your body.


That’s kind of how it is when tragedy strikes and another person comes up to you with a simplistic approach to your grief. “You shouldn’t feel that way – remember, God is in control.”


Honestly, those words can be like a big slap on a fiery sunburn. This article is meant to be a soothing ointment on those people who are really suffering every day. Something has happened in your life that just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t line up with anything you believe. For you, the two most important questions right now could be, “Can I trust God anymore,” and “Can I forgive God?”


For example, there is the story of what happened to Javad Marshall-Fields and Vivian Wolfe. You can read their story here.


They had just gotten engaged. Javad was doing what was right. He was brave, honest, a hard worker, and he and Vivian were cut down.


“God, if you are in control, why did evil triumph?” “God, why did you allow this – why didn’t you protect them?” There are lots of answers, but maybe none of them help the “sunburn.” When you wake up at night, and go down the hallway past your son or daughter’s bedroom and it is empty, and they will never be there – not ever – the words “Well, everything happens for a reason” don’t help.


And then the day comes one year after the funeral when you realize you won’t be attending a wedding for your children. It stings and you wince at the pain. You may think, “Please go away everyone, I need to be alone….”


You don’t need a slap on the back right then, or even the arm of someone who cares around your shoulder. The only thing that might help at all is if someone else says, “I’m sorry” and then just sits there beside you. There really isn't anyone who can help a bad sunburn. It just throbs and stings every time you move. You might get engrossed in something on television or have a meal in the kitchen and forget the sunburn a little, but it doesn’t go away.


And for those of you who are hurting right now, I offer some questions. I offer some thoughts that have helped me to deal with loss. They are questions that I am pondering and for which I may never find an answer while I am on the Earth.


  • 1. The first question will shake some people up. “Is everything that happens God’s will?” Personally, I don’t believe that everything that happens is necessarily God’s will. Others might ask me, “How can you say such a thing if you believe that God is in control – that God is sovereign?”
  • For me, I find a tremendous amount of comfort in the following verse:


    “Let no one say when he or she is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.”

    James 1:13


    Now, another question.

    2. What percentage of all human activity – good or bad - would you say that temptation is?


    James 1:13 declares that God doesn’t tempt anyone. He is not responsible for that. He does not tempt anyone. To me, this implies that God is not responsible for everything that happens. There is some percentage of human activity that God is not directly involved in.


    Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”


    I see God coming to the rescue of those who cry out to Him for help. Let me put it another way. God did not pull the trigger on the guns that killed Javad and Vivian. He did not tempt the people who did that. We just read that verse in James – “God does not tempt anyone.” But He does come to the rescue of those who cry out to Him.


    “As for me, I shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle, which is against me, for they are many who strive with me. God will hear and answer them – even the one who sits enthroned from of old…”


    Psalm 55:16-19a


    This verse talks about the battle which is against us. Whether we like it or not, we are in a battle. Not a peaceful battle – there is no such thing.  People get killed. People get hurt. Good people. People we love. Tragedy is a major part of any battle. And often the young and helpless, the good and the precious, the near and the dear are cut down.


    Is that comforting? Not to me!


    Actually, it tells me that there may be a period of time in my life when there is no comfort except in God Himself. And that is because of who God is (His character) and because “God will hear and answer them – even the One who sits enthroned from of old.”


    There will come a time when God will answer evil.


    “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.”


    Revelation 4:8


    God is holy.


    In other words, God can be trusted completely to bring everything to a close in a just and righteous manner, no matter how terrible the present time is.


    God has not forgotten me, and He “listens” when I “complain” (Psalm 55:16-19a).



    3. “So if God is all-powerful, why did He allow that to happen?” someone might ask.


    My answer – “I don’t know.”


    I know that Romans 8:28 says, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”


    And that provides me with some comfort. But it also encourages me to know that God doesn’t cause everything.


    Sometimes we say, “It was an act of God” when we don’t know what we are talking about. Maybe it was not an act of God.


    I think it is very tempting for us to say, “It was an act of God,” because then we can get out of a lot of personal responsibility! “Well, God controls everything, so there isn’t much we can do about it anyway.”


    God loves to feed the hungry, but He does it through people. God loves justice, but He carries it out most often through people. He is not responsible for what people do, but He will judge all people with perfect fairness and justice.


    “It is appointed to men (men and women, i.e., mankind) once to die and then the judgement.”

    Hebrews 9:27

    God has proven His motives and character by His beautiful creation, by His lovingkindness even to the wicked all through history, and by sending His one and only Son, Jesus Christ to give His life for us on the cross.

    I wrote the following poem for those who are suffering, who have “emotional sunburn.”


    I hope and pray

    That something I say

    Will help you today –

    From me to you.


    The Empty Room


    There is an empty room

    Where my son once was

    There is an empty place

    Where my daughter once lived

    I walk by their room

    Late at night

    With the ticking of a clock

    The only sound

    But they are no longer around


    Oh the silence

    Cuts my heart like a knife

    And only pictures

    Are left of their wonderful life

    Yes they were real

    Yes they were here

    Yes they talked and laughed

    And held on to my hand

    Oh my Lord in heaven

    How could You plan

    My life without them

    How could You give me

    This empty room

    In a house

    Where once was the sound of their voice

    Their footsteps

    Their laughter

    I once knew

    How can I go on

    Another night

    With this empty room

    What can I hang on to

    What will You give me

    To carry me through


    Sometimes all I can do is cry…


    But other times faith wells up in me

    Even in the silence

    And I can hear the angels in heaven

    Saying over and over

    “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God

    The Almighty

    Who was and is and is to come…”

    And I raise my hands

    Knowing that at the throne

    My child is giving praise with me

    To the Rescuer

    The Holy One

    And I shall see my dear child someday

    As the Savior with pierced hands

    Brings us together again…


    And right now I choose

    To worship the Lord

    In the garment of praise

    He has given to me

    By the gift of His Son

    On Calvary…


    Randy Stahla 9-9-06


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Blue Ballerina” was written for those who have lost someone because of a crime.