Question 1: Sojourner, I am amazed that you can recall stories of things that happened to you when you were so young. How do you do it?
Answer: Folks who study child development tell us that age three years is usually the earliest anyone is able to recall incidents from their childhood. To be honest with you, these three anecdotes are the only memories I have from when I was three years old, though I am certain that there are lots more, if I could only remember them! I would imagine the introduction of a new baby into the family made a big impression on me. The long trip that followed soon after her arrival, also, had two very memorable events; thus, these are the three happenings that stuck in my memory vault for nearly sixty years! My father was a commercial photographer at this time in my life so he made home movies of the 16mm type that we watched all through our growing up and beyond years. I can remember the activities on the family’s films sometimes but really cannot recall the events as they actually happened, other than the three I recorded in this series. If I could, however, I would be able to tell you about my first Christmas when I was a mere eight months minus five days old! Ha! Not likely you would believe my recollections from that high chair in the film, eh?!
Question 2: You wrote about what we would call the pre-mature death of adults but what about the children? Certainly, the death of a three-year-old child cannot mean that their mission/purpose on earth had been accomplished, can it?
Answer: That is an excellent question! There are a lot of answers to that question, of course. On the one hand, they seem not to have lived long enough to have accomplished what we would call “a mission” because we are thinking that it would be something that an adult would do as a part of their life’s work. This need not necessarily be true. The purpose of his or her life may have been something other than what his working life could or would accomplish. It may be something that God was working out in the lives of the people surrounding the child. Even nurses and medical folks who care for a terminally ill child are touched by the life of the sick little one. Sometimes the Lord has spoken to the individual caring for the patient in a way that would make a huge difference in the person’s life. Could that be part of the child’s mission? I hear you, dear Reader, and I would not have chosen that pain for any child either. But, I am not the Father Who knows everything about everyone; neither am I the One Who decides these things from a knowledge base that is unlimited. I can only know that God is trustworthy and loves the child more than I ever could but He still chooses this path or to not intervene when this path is set before the little one. There are so many reasons and, to us who seriously love and are committed to children, none of them seems just. I can say that I know that God is just no matter what it might look like to us and, truly, His ways and thoughts are not ours. The Psalm we looked at earlier says that the number of days that child was appointed to sojourn on this earth had already been decided by the Father who created the child and that is a given… however long or short that life. Still, it is something that we agonize over every time we learn of the demise of a child.
What about a tragic death from evil invading the happy life of a child? Oh, how that breaks my heart! One of my favorite books of all time is THE SHACK by William Paul Young. In it he has written a masterful story of fiction that so vividly portrays the heart of the Father, how the Trinity works together even though their personalities are so different and, in many cases, lend some valuable insight to some of life’s most difficult situations. The death of a child at the hand of an abuser has to be one of the situations at the top of the list of pain for any parent who loses a child. In Young’s book, he deals with this issue from the point of a grieving father. If you are one of the people advised not to read this book for any reason, please, give it a try and judge for yourself. It is not intended to be a book of doctrine, neither was it written by a scholar with the purpose of educating the public. It was, quite simply, written by a father who wanted his own children to gain an understanding of God as he had experienced Him. We have had the extreme pleasure of hearing Paul Young speak to our Sacramento church and can assure you that this is a truly humble man who has very obviously encountered our precious understanding God in a very real way! His book is a beautiful picture of the Triune God and, while one might not agree with every element of the doctrine he weaves through the story, one would have a hard time standing aloof and not getting involved in the wonderful spirit of the project! This little volume really puts a bit of light on just how it is that the God Who loves little children could “stand by” and let them be abducted and abused. The answer is that He isn’t “just standing by.”
****Oops, Wrong Lap… Coming Monday