Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Of Grace and "God-things"

I received an email from a dear friend today:

Our daughter... was born today. We earnestly thank God...for she had a "natural knot." Her umbilical cord had become tied into a perfect knot, an uncommon condition, but very dangerous and often fatal for the baby when/if the knot becomes tight, cutting off blood and nutrients to the baby. The doctor showed us in wonder that the knot was taught, but had remained unconstricted, and even admitted that God Himself must have been involved. "These are rare, but almost always disastrous. God was certainly looking after you," the doctor confided to me alone while [mother] was in recovery.

Last week, while back in Jersey to clean the apartment, I was upstairs. The stairwell is very steep, but Chloe has been very good on them, always using the rail. However, having set down the stepstool for a moment on the landing, I turned to the blinds I was cleaning not a few seconds when there was a thunderous sound of something falling down the stairs. I turned. The footstool was gone. But so was Chloe.

My first thought was, "My three year old daughter is dead." All the emotions, experience and theology that go with that sentence passed through my body and mind in the split second which it took me to analyze that indeed, I could not longer hear my daughter anywhere upstairs. The sound of my wife crying, "O my God," downstairs, and no (to be expected) crying coming from my daughter only furthered my certainty.

My daughter is dead. God has taken her. This is the most horrible thing that could ever happen to me. This is God's good and gracious will. How will we ever survive? We will survive. I must be strong, for Meridith will be weak. I must mourn later, for now I must help her mourn. God is gracious. He doesn't waste pain. There is a reason. I will never know it. Though he slay me, yet I will praise him. Now...I'm going to sprint down the stairs.

Having climbed onto the stool, somehow, she had toppled it straight backward and down some 20 steps, with her in? on? under? it. She lay at the foot of the stairs, her head resting on a garbage bag full of plastic bags which we had neglected to recycle the week before. Meridith was still near hysterical, checking her face and mouth as Chloe at last realized the fearful experience she had had and began to cry.

There was not even a bruise on her. She might as well have floated down while the stool tumbled.

Now, I certainly cannot claim the special intervention of angels (as so many are wont to do with boldness,) but I cannot help but be amazed at the amazing PROVIDENTIAL grace of God. With all the many disasters, miseries and deaths of our present broken world, how much more grave the perdition would be if the Father did not extend his gracious care to the wicked and the just alike. The simple statistical irregularities through which he preserves all humankind daily, attested to by the omnipresence of stories such as my friends and my own, are staggering.

How much more so then shall we rejoice that over and above this love, he has showered upon us the inheritance and restoration of sonship in Jesus Christ? How fantastic to know that infant girl has been preserved for her baptism, that Chloe still lives to rejoice in singing the Alleluias of Easter, and that all of us who have been called out of darkness can not only see the hand of God in the little miracles of daily survival, but also believe in the true mysteries: that God became man for us in a time not so long ago, and that, even now, he continues that Israel by giving himself for our feast of life, taking sin and death away, replacing the tyranny of the devil with the total mercy of a Father who loves even sinners like you and me.

Not a bad thought. Not a bad thought at all.

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