Unspeakable Tragedy, Unimaginable Grace

Inspiration MinistriesBy Inspiration Ministries6 Minutes

How would you respond to a heartbreaking loss? As the story of Gentry and Hadley illustrates, God can provide hope amid even life’s greatest heartbreaks.

People thought they had it all. Gentry and Hadley were a beautiful young Christian couple, madly in love and serving as worship leaders in their church. After a few years of marriage, they had welcomed their first son, Dobbs, who was a true gift from the Lord. Because of his infectious laugh, friends and family soon nicknamed him “the joy baby.”

Dobbs hadn’t even reached two years old when this family of three discovered they soon would have a new addition: another “joy baby” was on the way!

At 36 weeks pregnant, Hadley took a trip with Gentry and Dobbs to the Carolina coast to attend a family wedding. Amid the hurriedness and stress before the ceremony, young Dobbs amazed his mom and dad by comforting them with a Bible verse he had recently learned: “Be still and know that I am God.”

From Heavenly…to Heaven

As Gentry and Hadley would later recall, the wedding was a “heavenly” occasion. Still feeling the afterglow of the ceremony as they drove home, Hadley turned and reminded Dobbs, “I love you, buddy.” It never crossed her mind that this would be the last time she would ever be able to tell him she loved him on this side of Heaven.

While stopped at a red light, their car was suddenly slammed into by a large box truck. In addition to being on drugs, the distracted truck driver was texting at the time of the collision and had rammed them at full speed.

In an instant, everything completely changed for this young family. Within minutes, paramedics were surrounding them and rushing them individually to the hospital.

At the hospital, Gentry learned that Dobbs was “with Jesus now,” as his heartbroken parents put it. This loving father sobbed as his parents held him tightly.

Gentry had to share the news with Hadley, who had undergone an emergency Cesarean section to deliver their unborn baby, Reed. Unable to believe the news about Dobbs, she cried out in anguish, “No! This can’t be!”

Gentry and Hadley turned their focus to comforting baby Reed as he took his final breaths. While holding their dying newborn child, they sang praises to God as they wept at the realization of their new reality – life without children.

Working All Things for Good

People love to quote Paul’s words in Romans 8:28 about God’s ability to turn around any situation and use it for good. However, what good could possibly result from a horrific tragedy like this? It seemed like a huge victory for the devil, the thief who always comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). And what about the negligent truck driver who had turned their heavenly day into such a hellish nightmare?

Grief is a painful ordeal under the best of circumstances. But the pain is even worse if a loved one dies when they’ve barely begun to live – and especially if the death has been caused by someone’s negligent or evil act.

Yet, as an important step in being healed of their grief, Gentry and Hadley were compelled by God to publicly forgive the man who caused the accident that killed their two little boys. Their powerful example ignited a chain reaction of forgiveness, impacting many people around the world who had suffered a personal loss or injustice.

There also was an amazing flood of donations from people who wanted to help with the family’s medical and burial expenses. So deeply were people’s hearts touched by this tragedy that all expenses were covered, and an additional $150,000 remained.

Gentry and Hadley prayed and determined that the money would be used to build a Christian school in Haiti, named in memory of Dobbs and Reed. There the message of salvation through Christ is now continually shared with hundreds of children.

Look What God Has Done!

A couple of years after the accident that claimed the life of their two sons, Gentry and Hadley experienced the most amazing part of their redemption story: They were surprised by a new pregnancy – with twin boys! To them, it was God’s way of restoring to them an earthly family to love and care for.

Hadley shares, “We named our twin boys after their brothers in Heaven. Isaiah Dobbs and Amos Reed are a beautiful part of God’s redemption to our story.”

Through it all, God has shown Himself faithful. “We’ve learned that no matter what we go through…no matter how hard it is…even in the face of death…there is always hope with Christ,” Hadley says. “And we can joyfully look forward to the day when we’ll be reunited as a family in Heaven!” As Gentry likes to say, “It’s not over until it’s good, because God is good!”