One year ago yesterday, my second son Justin was born. 10 days later on October 27th he died.* He is now buried in a family plot in my wife's hometown. We just came home today, and I am rather emotionally dead. Not tired, but I just am not feeling much right now.
That said, I've been thinking about the nature of pain and suffering in the life of a Christian. Many people have been impressed with how Esther and I have dealt with Justin's passing. Our story regarding Justin has encouraged and even helped many people who surround us. I don't think that this is why Justin died, for all death and tragedy is first and foremost tied to the fallen nature of the world, but I am happy that God has been able to use Justin's brief life for His glory, and for helping others.
I do not understand those who find solace in the notion that when bad things happen to them, that it was designed by God. Sure, knowing that something going on may have a good reason behind it may make me feel better when I don't get the job I want, or maybe even if I get in a car crash. But when it comes to my newborn son dying? Not really. We have to remember that according to Scripture there are things which happen which God didn't want to have happen. The hope we have in Christ and security that we find in Christ are grounded both in the sense that He will help us in this life, but more in that in the end He wins.
In the end, I am comforted by knowing that I will see him again. He is OK. He might be disconnected from his body, but that is only temporary. That may not stop me from being sad, but I would probably be distraught without such assurance.
I remember an atheist who once commented that Christians don't really believe in what we say we do, because we are still sad when someone dies. Because, you know, no one cries when someone moves away. Not really the best example of reasoning. But I think it also underestimates the weight of empty arms. When you expect to be holding an infant, and there is no infant to hold, your arms... ache. It is not just about life vs. death, but the is vs. the ought. Sorrow, anger, etc... they come when the is and the ought don't line up. And though Justin is fine, it is still not the way things ought to be.
But one day, one day, the is will be the same as the ought, and on that day, we'll see Justin, and get to find out what his life has been like.
*Don't chide me about the math. It was 10 days.