My father died at the age of 49, when I was only 21. At the time, my mom had all 7 of my younger siblings still at home and my ‘baby’ sister was only 6. Dad’s death was a complete shock. He was working on a car. The car fell on him, and he died.
Though memories of those early days of grieving are hazy, I know there was plenty of anger mixed in with the sadness. How could God have allowed that jack to slip? It made me look at some of the hymns we sang in church with a jaundiced eye. Words that used to seem comforting felt almost mocking to me for awhile.
To get back to a point of peace, I eventually had accept that God is sovereign, that He is God and I am not. I chose to trust that He had allowed the death of my father for a reason beyond my understanding. For my own peace and happiness, the best thing for me to do was to let go of that anger, and just trust.
Maybe someday I will know why my dad died. Maybe I won’t. Certainly my family was greatly blessed at many points since my dad died. Are those blessing great enough to ‘cancel out’ the sadness we felt at the loss of our father? I don’t know about that. But I know that we all have seen the loving works of God in our lives since then. We were wounded. But we were not deserted.
I have found that as I parent these precious new girls of mine, who had the great sadness of watching their Ethiopian mother die, I am again reading the hymns in church with little twinges of pain. I can imagine how they must be questioning the goodness of God. This morning I pointed to a verse in John 15 promising that God will answer our prayers, and reminded the girls that we need to keep praying that their friend Tsion will find a family.
“OK,” said my 12 year old, “we pray my mom will come back too.” Her smile was rueful. She knew that prayer would not be answered in the way that she wished. And so I am sure it gave her less confidence to pray for her friend. And yet we still prayed.
I want so much for my children (all of them!) to have faith in the goodness of God, to believe that He really does have a plan for their lives, to have a hope that their future will be bright. And yet that past sadness casts a long shadow.
I will do my best to help them have hope for the future. I will point to God’s work in our lives every chance I have. But in the end I guess it comes back to faith again. I need to have faith that God will work to heal their hearts. To have faith that He will give them peace and joy and hope for the future.
I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27:13-14