I remember the exact place where I was standing on campus at Ole Miss when my mom called with the news that Cameron Cole’s three-year-old son, Cam, had died. I don’t think I believed her at first. Surely, I had misheard what she said. There was just no way that this was happening. Why, God?

At the funeral two days later, I approached Cameron in the receiving line before the service and completely broke down, sobbing in the arms of a man who’d just lost his son. Without missing a beat, Cameron responded, “Christ has died, and Christ is risen, so we can get through this.” I know he believed and clung to that truth then and still does today because his new book, Therefore I Have Hope: 12 Truths That Comfort, Sustain, & Redeem in Tragedy, hinges entirely on that very sentence.

As Cameron explains, theological musings go out the window the second your Worst happens—the place where your mind goes when you think, “I don’t know if I could make it through ________”—and the only thing that matters, that remains unwavering, is the resurrected Jesus:

With my hand on my little boy’s chest, I declared to the doctors and nurses in the room, “If Christ isn’t risen, then I am completely screwed right now. I have no hope, and I am finished. But, you know what? Christ is risen from the dead. It’s true. This little boy is in heaven, and I will see him again. This situation utterly sucks, but I’m going to make it, because Christ really is risen and God really is good. I have hope.

Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, goes to great length to show the reality in which their faith was grounded. He lists a number of eyewitnesses who can attest to the bodily resurrection of Jesus and points to himself, Paul, as an unlikely but equally, or more, credible witness, having persecuted the church until he himself encountered Jesus (1 Corinthians 15). Paul recognizes the importance of solidifying this evidence for the Corinthians because “the entire faith lives and dies on an empty tomb. […] Disprove the resurrection and the entire Christian ship sinks.” Conversely, look to Paul’s words as evidence of an objective truth, and everything falls into place. Everything that Jesus said about himself and God and his grace and his love are all verified because Jesus rose from the dead, exactly as he said he would.

And yet, despite any head knowledge of and faith in the Gospel, that pit in your stomach and ache in your chest still can and will beg the question of how God could allow your Worst to happen: Is God really good if this happened? Is he as in control as he claims to be? On the surface, denying that God had any involvement in your Worst may appear comforting; it might seem easier to keep him out of it, to try to save God’s reputation. But to do so will rob you of all hope:

If God is not fully sovereign in your suffering, then you cannot trust that he is fully in control of your healing and recovery. If God’s hands are tied when the Worst enters your life, then maybe his powers are also limited in helping you.

By all human logic, God can’t simultaneously be good and sovereign in your Worst, but God operates on an entirely different plane. Cameron quickly points out that this perplexing characteristic of God manifests itself most clearly on the cross. The plan to bring redemption and forgiveness of sins to his beloved children somehow entailed the gruesome and humiliating death of Jesus. And if God wasn’t in control of the events leading up to the cross—the Last Supper, Judas’s betrayal, Jesus’ botched trial—and the moment when Jesus breathed his last, then we’re all going to find ourselves in a bit of a bind.

The cross is the prime example, but countless other stories of God’s coterminous goodness and sovereignty, at the cost of suffering on the part of his children, can be found all over the Bible: Joseph being sold into slavery, Job’s pain and loss, Paul’s imprisonment. Granted, hindsight is 20/20, and there are just as many Psalms lamenting God and begging him for relief. Nonetheless, if God is sovereign in even the most unimaginable of circumstances, then he also is constantly present in the midst of them, walking alongside you and feeling the pain with you as a loving parent would with his child.

Before his death, Jesus promised to the disciples his resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit as indicators that they would never be alone, that they would continue to have intimate relationships with their Father once Jesus physically left them. And this remains true whether we feel it or not. The warm and fuzzy are never guaranteed, and the presence or absence of those feelings do not negate God’s promises. When Jesus became the sin of the world on the cross, he also suffered the rejection and abandonment of his Father so that we would never be alone, even in our Worst, even when God feels a million miles away.

So, having established these and several more unshakable truths, we arrive at the beautiful, life-giving “therefore.” Therefore, we have hope. Hope beyond our Worst. Hope beyond the pain of this world. Hope beyond whatever challenges, large and small, you face today.

All of which makes heaven a fitting concluding note for Cameron’s book. In the midst of our Worst, scripture reminds us that this life is only temporary, a vapor, withering grass. But Jesus promises a perfect, eternal relationship with God in heaven where “He will wipe away every tear from [your] eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed” (Revelation 21:4). There is a light at the end of the tunnel, a finish line, even if it’s still clouded in the distance.

If Cameron were speaking in hypotheticals, theorizing about how one might survive their absolute worst nightmare, this book probably wouldn’t hold up. It’s easy for anyone with a basic knowledge of the Bible to spout out these truths. But every word of this book comes from the lips of a man who plummeted to the darkest of pits, was pulled back out by these twelve truths, and still, despite it all, proclaims them to be rock solid.

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:31-39)