For much of my adult life I have associated February with Valentine’s Day, grant proposals and search committees. Then on February 21, 1996 my 21-year-old son Austin was killed by a drunk driver traveling on the wrong side of the Highway 121 near the DFW airport.
I was able to tell the drunk driver at his sentencing that I forgave him. I wished with all my heart that he would be freed from carrying this burden the rest of his life. Yet I felt anger. If my bitterness and pain was not from hating that man, why was I continuing to suffer?
There were times when I would be ambushed by anguish. I would groan deeply and double over, clutching my stomach with the pain of loss. I would yell at God and ask, “Why? Why did you take him from me? I can’t bear the pain!”
After all, since he is God, then He is at least ‘guilty’ of failing to render aid. If a heart surgeon is walking along the sidewalk, and a stranger drops to the ground at the surgeon’s feet in an apparent heart attack, we would revile the surgeon who passes by.
The surgeon, of all people, could have saved this stranger. He or she had it in his or her power to save the dying person and failed to render aid. We would shun such a person and even consider that surgeon evil. The surgeon may as well have killed the heart-stricken victim by negligence.
So it is with God, we reason in our hearts. He has the power to save, to heal, to raise the dead, to defend and protect. And yet He seems to pass on by.
When I was at the end of myself, God reached out and healed my bitterness. The help that I couldn’t give myself, God gave me. I discovered that I could still trust Him. Austin was God’s creation before he was my child.
I remember times when my children would come to me with a friend in tow and ask if the friend could stay the night.
‘Not tonight,’ was my answer.
“But why?” they would whine.
“Because I said so,” was my reply.
When they continued to plead, I would have to take them aside for a reprimand. I would explain that as their father, I had a much wider view of what was going on. I considered issues that never entered my child’s head.
Perhaps we were having a surprise party for my child that I didn’t want to give away, or perhaps I had simply planned for some exclusive family time that night. Whatever the reason, accepting my ‘No’ meant trusting me.
Why did God not protect my son from an early death? I do not know– but I do know that He is God. He can see much wider and deeper than I. And so we can place ourselves in no better care than the God who designed us and loves us.