After the 1992 the car accident that killed his daughter Beth, his eldest child from his first marriage, John Ramsey writes that his “immature faith in God plummeted to bedrock,” in his new memoir, “The Other Side of Suffering: The Father of JonBenét Ramsey Tells the Story of His Journey from Grief to Grace.”
Over time, Ramsey writes, he began to heal from Beth’s death and became convicted about the truth of the Bible. Then JonBenét, his 6-year-old daughter with second wife Patsy, went missing and was later found dead in the basement of their family home. JonBenét’s murderer was never found, and for years the Ramseys found themselves subject to police investigations into their role in her death. The Ramseys were later exonerated and the Boulder Police Department issued an apology for implicating them in their daughter’s murder.
“Where was God?,” Ramsey asked himself amidst his suffering.
Through the death of his two daughters, and later wife Patsy to ovarian cancer in 2006, Ramsey writes that he began to identify himself with Job, the long-suffering Old Testament figure who lost his members of his family and his wealth but was later rewarded by God for his faithfulness. Ramsey writes:
“Life simply isn’t always fair. God put us on this earth to deal with the unfairness of life armed with His strength, power and wisdom, but forewarns us that life will be difficult at times. Job asked God Why? but he did not get an answer.
“Patsy and I asked Why ? Why was our child murdered? Why did the police accuse us? Why did the Boulder police not investigate all the leads that came to them. Why?”
In the wake of his first daughter’s death, Ramsey writes that his faith was evolving and maturing—just as his daughter was found murdered. “When JonBenét died, I had no doubt she was in Heaven with God. My deep agony was for my loss, not JonBenét’s. I had lost a part of my future on earth.”
“One of my spiritual mentors, a man who taught me how to study the Bible after Beth’s death, told me ‘John, I believe JonBenét and Beth did not spend one more day or one less day on this earth than God intended for their lives.’ That thought was difficult for me to accept and understand. It illustrates the apparent conflict between man’s free will and the sovereignty of God,” Ramsey writes.
Still, deep mysteries remained for him. “I believe man’s free will gone wrong resulted in JonBenét’s murder. But was it God’s sovereignty that allowed such a terrible thing to happen?”
While coming to terms with his questions, Ramsey writes: “I had accepted that Jesus was exactly who he said he was. God, who came to earth in the form of a man to both teach us and provide a sacrifice for a God of perfect justice. I began to think of myself as a follower of Jesus, not an Episcopalian or Presbyterian [the churches Ramsey attended previously]. It made things so simple and clear.”
For Ramsey, it is the story of Job that has encouraged him throughout the series of tragedies, and that gives him hope for the future, writing, ”I must accept that He works all things together for good, even though I don’t understand the reasons or purpose of suffering. I must remind myself I don’t have the eternal picture. I can only see what is before my eyes. I don’t have vision for the unseen.”
“Job reached his peace at last,” Ramsey writes, echoing his own evolution. “’But now my eye sees You,’ he declared in Job 42:5, and what beautiful five simple words those are.”
“Now my eye sees You.”