"The death will be horrible. It will sap you of strength and steal your dreams and haunt you for years to come."
The parent hesitated. "Will I have to watch this child suffer a slow, painful wasting away?"
"No. This death will be sudden and violent," the Father admitted.
"Perhaps that will be more bearable?" There was a pause and then the parent asked, "But 6 to 10 years--this child will be so young; still full of youthful innocence."
"Oh, indeed." the Father whispered sadly. "It is always hardest to see the innocent suffer and die. It will plunge you into an agony of darkness which will feel interminable and leave you raging at the injustice of it all." (Matthew 27:45)
"I don't understand," said the parent and then fell silent.
"There is no understanding to be had, although you will spend many sleepless nights trying to make sense of the irrational. You'll often awake hoping it is just a bad dream, but you'll only move into another day of a living nightmare."
The parent neither responded nor lifted his eyes from the floor.
"There is more." The Father spoke gently but clearly. "Other children will die with your child and it will be near Christmastime. the loss will be beyond anyone's comprehension. You'll have already purchased gifts for this child, already wrapped and hidden them for placing under your tree later. But the child you'd hoped would awake Christmas morning and gleefully unwrap those packages will be gone. You'll have to decide what to do with those gifts. Every future Christmas, every carol and decoration will be a reminder of your terrible loss. 'And a sword will pierce your own soul, too.' (Luke 2:35) It will feel irrational and insulting that others are unaware of your grief and that they celebrate unmindful of your pain."
"You say that other children will die, too. Will there be some measure of comfort in sharing my grief with other parents?"
"It will most likely compound your grief. Everyone experiences grief so personally and uniquely, it is hard to feel understood. Many well-meaning people will try to comfort you, but some of them will only exacerbate your pain. 'Each heart knows its own bitterness and no one else can share its joy.' You will feel very alone and often misunderstood. But I understand and I will be with you!"
"Will that ease my pain?"
"Well," the Father said carefully, "it will when you are able to discern my presence and compassion. I will offer you healing and transcendence. (II Corinthians 1:3, 4) But for awhile the magnitude of your pain may block your ability to feel my presence. You may even feel it dishonors the memory of your child to accept my healing, but I will never give up on you. I will weep with you; my tears will match your own. (Romans 12:15) This will be a consuming agony. For a time, you may even blame me."
"But aren't you to blame? Can't you prevent this tragedy?"
"I am bound to hold my power in abeyance in order not to interfere with free will. These horrors were never my will from the beginning, but portions of my power have been imprisoned by forces of evil which were invited to inhabit the earth by human choice." (Genesis 3:6,7)
"Then, as much as I long for this child, even for its short lifetime, I think I must decline this offer. The risk is too great. I could never enjoy a single day of this child's life while anticipating such a tragic end."
"You won't remember this conversation," the Father assured the parent. "You'll rejoice at the birth and everyday of your child's young life. you'll delight as you watch your child grow physically, intellectually, spiritually, and socially. (Luke 2:52) It will be a very happy time!"
"I want to be able to experience and celebrate the birth of this child!"
"Oh," the Father said wistfullly, "I know how to celebrate a birth! Think a new star and choirs of angels!" (Matthew 2:2; Luke 2:13, 14)
"But I never want to experience the death of my child!"
"I understand," the Father affirmed. "I know intimately what it is to witness the violent and unjust death of a dearly loved Son. I knew it would be horrible for you to undergo. In my own case, I had solace in knowing that great good would come from the life and death of my child. It will always be best for you at this time of year to focus on the birth of my child instead of on the death of your own."
"I'm not sure I can do that. This great good that comes from your son's death--will good come from my child's death?"
"I promise that it will. While I cannot prevent every evil, I can guarantee that I will bring good from every tragedy." (Romans 8:28)
"What possible good," the parent challenged, "could you bring from my child's death?"
"I could tell you all the details, but this problem is not solved by foreknowledge. It is solved by faith alone. Can you trust me with this?"
The parent frowned and cleared his throat. He reflected for awhile on what he already knew of this Father. "I trust you," he said quietly and resolutely. "Bless me with this child."
Linda Brumley is the author of the book My Beggar's Purse and Other Spiritual Thoughts, and a blog of the same name. This article was originally published at http://mybeggarspurse.blogspot.com/.
Linda Brumley, along with her husband, Ron, has served in the ministry in San Diego, Chicago, Denver and Seattle. She is currently a women’s ministry leader in the Seattle Church of Christ. Her greatest joy in life is friends and family (four children and ten grandchildren). Because she feels so blessed to have learned from older women in her life, she hopes to offer that same blessing to young women that God enables her to influence for him.