Last night I had an epiphany. I realized for the first time how I could come to completely turn my back on God. This is no confession, let me be clear. I’m not writing this because I feel guilty about it. I merely realized that there are things in life that could crush my faith and this is an honest journal on the experience. God won’t judge me for it, I promise.
My sister Katie died when I was 15 years old. The pain was real but drove me toward God, not away. The opposite was true for my father, who wanted nothing to do with God before Katie’s death and much less after. The one time I brought it up sparked a conversation I’ll never forget. He told me he didn’t believe in God. If God was real and loved us, how could He let Katie die? How could his little girl be gone forever? What kind of loving God would allow that to happen? At 16 year old, I didn't have the answer.
Fast forward 10 years and I’m in the same boat again, except this time it was my dad who was dying. After suffering from a sudden stroke, he had two options; fight for an existence of dependence on others and zero quality of life or pull the plug and end it. He chose the latter. He never was very good at relying on others to get things done and his impatience may have killed him anyways.
My father’s death only strengthened my already well founded faith. I lead him through the sinners prayer while he lay in the hospital and he confirmed several times that he had accepted Jesus as his savior. He claimed he wasn’t afraid to die (he was stubborn too) and I was no longer afraid that he would. In fact, his salvation made the entire process strangely peaceful for me.
Fast forward to last night. My three year old son has been fighting an illness for five days now, his temperature consistently above 103 degrees. We finally gave in and took him to the doctor yesterday only to find out, as usual, that it’s a viral infection and there’s nothing we can do but wait it out. Overlapping Tylenol and Advil around the clock, we struggled to try to keep his temps below 104 degrees.
At around 0200 he woke us all up crying. The meds had worn off while he slept. His whole body was on fire and no doubt in pain. As I kicked myself for not setting an alarm to keep him medicated, I mixed the painkillers with some grape juice. Unfortunately, after five days of this routine, he didn’t trust the mixture and could immediately taste the medicine. He threw up. His pillow, his blanket, his bed sheets; everything needed to be washed.
Exhausted, my wife and I tried to get him to take the meds in other ways. As he continued to writhe in pain and scream at the thought of tasting the medication one more time, I wondered why; why is he being allowed to go through this? There is only One who can help him right now but He isn't doing it; why?
My wife was eventually able to get him to take the meds and I put him back to bed. As I laid there next to him, I couldn’t help but notice the elephant in the room. If I feel this way now, what would happen if one of my kids died? I knew the answer right away. I would take it up with The Big Guy. I would respond in much the same way my father did. If you exist, how could you let this happen!? I felt strange because for all those years I didn't understand why my dad blamed God for my sister's death. But at that very moment, as I thought about my own son dying, it instantly became clear.
I don’t know where I would end up; where that road would take me. I want to believe I would find an answer through the pain and hold onto my faith in a loving God, but I can’t be sure. I have long recognized that we live in a world where evil reigns and bad things can happen to good people. I can still believe in Him after an event like 9/11 or while groups like ISIS torture and kill innocent people. But when it come to my own kids, all bets are off. The idea that God, who loves me more than I love my kids, would allow me to see them suffer and/or die is one that I can't wrap my head around. I have no idea what would happen.
It’s nothing I’ll lose sleep over though. I will live today with intention and gratefulness, doing my best with what time I have and the people I love. As the turtle from Kung Fu Panda puts it, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift... that's why it is called the present." Always listen to the turtle.
Do Good || Be Strong || Fear Nothing