The “Ride the Ducks” tour disaster in Branson, Missouri, took the lives of seventeen people. On July 20, 2018 a fifteen-minute storm hit Table Rock Lake with 75-mile per hour winds. The violent storm hurled six-foot waves against the WWII-era amphibious boats.
One of these boats, Duck 07, was loaded with six families of thirty-one people. It capsized in the waves, killing more than half of its occupants.
One of the families aboard, the Colemans, lost all but two of its eleven members. Tia Coleman, one of the survivors, lost her husband and all three of her children.
Two of the families were couples. William Asher and Rosemarie Hamann were one. The other was Janice and William Bright. Both couples perished.
Twelve-year-old Alicia Dennison and her grandmother, Leslie Dennison, were also aboard Duck 07. Only Alicia survived when her grandmother, with her last bit of strength, thrust the girl forward to safety.
Fourteen-year-old Loren Smith emerged from the sunken boat only to find that her father, a church deacon, and her brother had drowned.
In addition to these families, one of the two crewmembers on Duck 07, Bob Williams—a deeply religious man—went down with the ship.
Then there were the nine members of the Keller-Collins family, which had been visiting from Texas. Against the backdrop of overwhelming loss and grief, the Keller-Collins family offered a prayer of thanksgiving and praise to God. Why? Because all nine members of this family survived. That’s right. Countering all the probabilities, this large family remained whole and intact through the disaster.
Joy in Darkness
But isn’t it appropriate that they all suffer a measure of “survivor’s guilt”? Out of respect for the grieving, shouldn’t they also grieve? Shouldn’t they turn their joy and praise to wailing?
Guilt is inevitable for all the survivors. But the Keller-Collins family has each other as a support group and it’s more appropriate that they view their survival as a gift from God. And even though we grieve for all the dead and bereaved, we must also rejoice with those whose survival is nothing short of miraculous.
You see, it’s essential to our mental and emotional survival to find the little bit of light within the darkness. That little bit of light is always present, no matter how great the darkness may be. It might seem irreverent, inappropriate, or heartless to focus on the one bright spot of this tragedy. For we are told to “weep with those who weep.” Yet we are also commanded to “rejoice with those who rejoice” (Rom. 12:15).
It is, therefore, equally worthy to protect joys of some as it is to console the sorrows of others. Not even the grief of the many should suppress the joy of the few. Nor should we allow disappointment, setbacks, and failures in our own lives eclipse the joys and victories we’ve known. For God adds joy to sorrow as a gift. It is essential to our survival that we protect and treasure it.
Dear Father in heaven, Your word tells me that “the joy of the LORD is my strength” (Neh. 8:10). It’s what helps me to keep my head above water and empowers me to survive. Help me to protect and treasure that joy—my own joy and the joy of others as well. Amen.
This article has been republished with permission from its original source.