April 2006 - Volume 10, Issue 9
When my mother said, "Did you hear what happened to Chris's daughter", I knew immediately the Chris she was talking about. It was "the" Chris. I hadn't heard his name in years. Back in our early twenties, we were engaged to be married, but as fate would have it things did not work out. Fresh out of university I wanted to move away to pursue a career. Living in a small town such as ours, I knew there was not a lot of opportunity here for me. He on the other hand was set on staying. His job was secure and he was very happy with his life here. That divide eventually widened and caused a permanent rift between us that would end just two short weeks before our proposed marriage ceremony. Ironically, I eventually wound up staying and settling down in our little town and he and his family moved to another province to find employment after the factory where he worked closed down.
I have since married and have two sons and Chris and his wife had both a girl and a boy. Although there were few details available, his daughter apparently had the croup and was taken to the hospital and died there a few days later. I could only imagine how devastated he must have been. The funeral was held back in our hometown where she would also be buried. My husband and I talked about me going to the funeral but after much consideration I decided against going. Our relationship had ended on bitter terms so I felt it best that I didn't attend, the last thing I wanted to do was stir up angry feelings at his family's time of grief.
We did get in touch with each about a year after the death of his daughter at which time he informed me that he was pursuing a lawsuit over her death. Apparently a drug not recommended for long-term use in children was used to sedate her. After four days of use, and her continued deterioration, she passed away at the tender age of six. He and his wife were now suing the government to have a coroner's inquest. However, after a lengthy court battle, it was determined that her death was from natural causes.
Needless to say, I have pondered his plight many times over the years. Although our breakup was devastating, I wondered if God in His wisdom was leading me away from further tragedy all those years ago or was it simply coincidence. Does God really participate in our lives so actively because He knows the future or does He for the most part let us lead our own lives without intervening? It certainly seemed, at least in my case, that He was involved in order to protect me from further grief. But why would He in turn let Chris and his family go through this grief? Why would He be watching out for me and not somebody else's family? These are questions that I have pondered over these few years. Although I feel invariably lucky to have not suffered such a loss; I feel guilty at the same time for being happy in my life and not having to face anything so terrible as the loss of a child.
God's own story in fact is about the loss of a child, His own. He sent His son to earth knowing full well what the conclusion would be. How could He let His own son, Jesus, be born knowing that He would die a terrible death? How could He let Mary, Christ's mother suffer so at the loss of her son? How could He give her a child, only to take him away before he had finished living his life? Mary not only lost her son, she witnessed his terrible and cruel death. I wonder, as a mother, did she run to the foot of the cross and beg the soldiers to let him down or did she steadfastly accept God's will and continue to submit herself? Couldn't God have found an easier way to allow human redemption without the loss of life? But then, if we asked each parent, what would be the one sacrifice that you could never make- the answer would undoubtedly be-their child.
One could offer us wealth beyond imagination, life long peace, fame and success or any other wish the imagination could conjure, but most parents would say they would not trade their child for any of these things! God too, felt this way. He wanted to prove a point in showing the world just how much He loved us. He sacrificed His own son so that the rest of mankind could receive salvation. So God does know first hand about the sorrow involved in the loss of a child! If Christ had not given His own life though, mankind would have been eliminated centuries ago by our own sinfulness. We can only assume that because God is all knowing that when a family experiences such a loss, there is always a reason even though it may take many years for the revelation to unfold or become clear.
One thing is for certain; no matter what our loss or sorrow is in life, God asks us to seek refuge in Him. For many however, it is easier to turn away and blame God for their misfortune than to trust in His will and purpose. It is, after all, human nature to question authority and the mysteries of life. He has given us so much, but at the same time, He has left so much unanswered. That is why He encourages us to believe with "child-like faith". This is a gift however that does not come easily for most, it is something that arrives slowly with time and grace and God's continued presence in our lives. We are to believe and trust without reasoning and that in of itself is sometimes a sign of weak-mindedness in today's society. But then what a lovely and perfect world it would be if only we all believed and trusted in God's plan without a single question or doubt.
No, life's trials are never easy and for some they are downright terrible. But if we believe and trust in God wholeheartedly, then we know that someday, further down the road we will all understand His purpose for all things, good and bad.
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