Not crushed by tragedy

Father experiences comfort in the midst of great sadness

David Key
David Key is a 9-time US National Finals Qualifier in team roping

The absolute worst feeling” is what David Key remembers most when he heard that his son Riley had died in a car crash, just months after turning 18.

At 1am, on June 27, 2009, his son’s truck hit a roadside guard rail, flipped over sideways and came to rest in a creek upside down. Another two of his three passengers also died.

“It was the absolute worst day of my life up to this point and I hope ever,” David recalls sadly.

At 6:30am, David’s father called with the terrible news.

“I did not expect that call, nor could I have been prepared for it. My father had a hard time telling me [the news].”

Unusually, David reports that because he and his son are born-again Christians, God had already prepared him to deal with this tragedy in an “awesome way”.

In the weeks before, David’s church had been teaching from God’s Word, the Bible, that everyone who knows Jesus personally is united with God forever.

As David explains, “Our human spirit and the Holy Spirit are connected and the Holy Spirit is our direct communication with God.”

“Our human spirit is the real us. When we die our immortal spirit leaves our mortal body and we either go to heaven or hell. I understood that even though we buried Riley’s body, he was not there. The real him is in Heaven.

“I know that Riley had surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ. I am so thankful that I’ll get to see him again when I get to Heaven.”

David says that on three different occasions God has reassured him that Riley is okay.

“God has shown Himself so real to me. In the church during the funeral service God confirmed to me that He had Riley and that he was okay. God has given me so much confirmation that Riley knew God and had a relationship with Him.”

David Key family
David with wife Josey and sons Kooper and Kase

Of his own decision to trust in Jesus Christ, David says that it took him 30 years.

“I had gone to church throughout my life, but had never accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour until I was 30 years old.

“I knew that God is real but I never surrendered my life to the Lord [until then]. I thank God that Riley did at 18 years old.”

In the aftermath of his family’s loss, David is grateful for God’s comfort, and his beautiful wife and two sons whom he “dearly loves”.

“If we have a relationship with God,” David expresses, “He will work out the details through time and the Holy Spirit is our comforter and our personal guide.”

David points out two extraordinary things that he has discovered about God: He is “so patient” and “His grace (undeserved love) is sufficient for any sin” because Jesus paid the death penalty we deserve.

“God just wants us to love Him and to have a relationship with Him,” David adds.

“Really, that’s all any father wants from his children. We want to be loved back and appreciated. It’s all about relationship.”

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