If you were to have met this awesome teenager over the last year, outside of the absence of hair, you wouldn’t ever know he was in a fight with cancer. Carson Sumpter was and will remain an inspiration and teacher to us all in clinging to grace during suffering.
You know, we all have those awful “I remember where I was when…” times. For me, it was receiving a call in the afternoon from someone close to Carson with an update from recent tests run. The words “it’s really worse than we thought” still send a pit to my stomach. I remember hanging up the phone thinking that moment would forever tarnish the happy memories I had of Carson if anything were to happen.
As always, Christ has an amazing way of instilling grace into those who are chosen to suffer, and Carson was no exception. That memory I thought would forever plague my recollection of Carson was dimmed one night as I, along with thousands of others, mostly kids Carson’s own age, heard this amazing young man give his testimony of how he was left with no choice but to cling to Christ. Before he went on, I asked him how he was feeling and he smiled saying, “I don’t know what I’m going to say, which is good I guess… Gives God all the room he wants to speak through me.” And that he did. Over four thousand people gathered that night and connected hands to pray for God’s will on Carson’s life. Today, God’s will was fulfilled and now, Carson is walking with Jesus.
Outside of wrestling with sadness today, I was reminded of Carson’s imprint on the lives of thousands of people. His grace and silent suffering has been a witness to countless people of what “clinging to Jesus” brings. It brings peace, laughter, joy, unshakable faith, and most of all, it brings others to Christ. Carson used his life situation that most would view as a “tragedy” and offered his life up as a sacrifice to lead others to Christ. Although he was only a teenager, as seen more as a little brother to me, I often took the time (when I wasn’t picking on him) to let him know just how much I looked up to him. Always smiling, always joking, and living life, clinging to Jesus.
So if you ever want to know what grace looks like, look to Christ who suffered silently for the redemption of all. And remember Carson, the great kid who suffered quietly and resolved his life to be in the hands of his Creator, no matter the pain or the outcome. That is what grace looks like.