I recently was invited to contribute an essay to a book being published by David Liverett, a wonderful artist from my hometown of Anderson. Writers were asked to choose one question that, if given the opportunity, we would want to ask God. Each essay is accompanied by a portrait of the author, created by David. Many hours of love and talent went into the portraits and it is an honor to be included. Here's my question for God:
“Suffer Little Children…”
My life is woven together with countless questions. Some have found answers; some remain a mystery. A few have faded; I’ve made peace with the unanswerable. But there are several tenacious tendrils of wonderment wound tightly around my heart that will not untangle nor let go.
Is it a boy or a girl? I had pondered this question while pregnant with our first child. On January 26, 1977, I got my answer, but discovered that I had been asking a moot question. Our son, Jason, was delivered by emergency C-section and lived only a few hours. “God, why did my baby die? Did I do something wrong? Is my faith so flawed that I need to learn a lesson through this tragedy?”
When I went to my follow up doctor’s visit after giving birth, the only question I had for my doctor stuck in my throat like a wad of cotton. It took several attempts before he could decipher my tearful mumbling, “Did he hurt?” I suppose my question was really for God. “Did my innocent child suffer pain while en utero?”
Christmas 1977 I again was pregnant and gender was definitely irrelevant: “Is this baby healthy?” “Will my baby live—or die?” were the questions that weighed upon my grieving yet expectant heart.
If given the opportunity to ask God one question, it would be this: “Why don’t you intervene when innocent children are suffering? I understand the concept of free will in your divine design, but can’t you make an exception where children are concerned!”
As a therapist, I work with survivors of childhood traumas perpetrated (intentionally, or not) on vulnerable children. Threads of infection spider out from the wound into the far reaches of spirit and personality, disfiguring a promising future…
Notice that I did not say that the wounded person is disfigured. All of humanity is created in God’s image and may be made whole by Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. God is in the business of reweaving the tattered shreds of our lives into something good.
When Joseph, son of Jacob, was reunited with his brothers in Egypt, he said to them, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)
Heavenly Father, open my heart and eyes to your presence in the midst of suffering. May I trust you will work it for good.