Monday, July 14, 2008

Life Is A Precarious Thing

Several weeks ago my youngest son got a nasty virus or something equally ugly. Within hours his hearing in one ear was gone, and his other ear was also affected. He's a music therapist who's been playing keyboards and guitar for over 25 years; music is a major part of his life, but now he can hardly hear it. Good Witch and I have been trying to deal with this tragedy, but it's hard. Our boy has lived an exemplary life - how could he deserve this? It's an age-old question, a question that is always asked when bad things happen to good people.

If we were living in biblical or medieval times the answer would be easy, but perhaps unsatisifactory. God did it, either as punishment for bad conduct or as a "test" like Job's. Nothing happened by accident for those people. But we are living in the modern world and we need a more sophisticated answer.

My answer is that "things happen" in the natural world. Bad things happen to both good people and bad people all the time, and good things happen to all kinds of people all the time, too. Some people get struck by lightning, others win the lottery. Grief or joy results from these accidents of life, depending on what kind of accident happens to you or someone you love.

My pastor preached on this topic yesterday. His conclusion regarding God was that God has complete freedom to act, but may or may not choose to do so. Consequently, God may or may not have caused this tragedy, but has certainly (so far) felt that corrective action was not the appropriate response. And although he did not say this, he probably would have added that "who are we to question God". I agree with him on that unstated point.

The upshot is that I am left with grief. One of my precious children has a new and painful burden to bear, a burden that I can do almost nothing to assuage. His brave response is one of acceptance; take the blow and go on. That reflects his history, since he once took a severe blow (a broken neck) like a hero as a teenager. I know him well, and I know he will truly accept whatever is the final outcome of this ordeal, and he will go on to maximize his contribution to his family and the world. Yet this knowledge makes me no less angry, frustrated, and depressed. I want to shake my fist at fate and scream "Why him???????" But I know it's to no avail.

I once lost control of my little car on a mountain road in West Virginia, driving too fast. I should have gone over the cliff and died, but somehow I didn't. I came home to my family that night as if nothing had happened. My youngest son, this one, was not yet born. I survived, and he is alive but now challenged by sudden hearing loss. Chance works both ways, and life is a precarious thing. We take the cards that are dealt to us, win or lose, and we wait to see what the next hand brings.

Dear God, who made the universe and my son, hear my prayer: May those who listen to your voice find peace in this life and forevermore.


Anonymous said...

I remember many years ago when my cousin Scottie was in a motorcycle accident and lost his leg. It was much harder for his mother and father than it was for him. I think parents often define themselves as The Fixer of Problems, and sometimes life throws things at you that just can't be fixed.

I'm sorry your family is going through this. I'm adding my own prayers to yours, and keeping you all in my thoughts.

Ron Davison said...

I am so sorry to hear that your son's hearing problem was not relieved, but I'm confident that he has what it takes to re-define his life. That is one of the beauties of life - it is plastic, finding new ways to express itself.