My strength is failing. My hand grows weary, and I have lost the will to rally one last time. My breath is rattled. It is time to say good-bye. I write to say I love you, and that I have no regrets. I will give your mother, my wife, a hug from you.
If I may, though, address the “issue”. I know you grow weary of hearing me talk of it again and again, but I can not help myself. When you were here last, you spewed out a challenge, asking how a loving God can afflict so much pain on your old father. Wondering, in anger, why He would give me the life He has, when I have faithfully served Him.
I do not remember these comments in anger, daughter, nor do I want you to be in grief that these were the last words exchanged. I understand them, even if I disagree with them. It is not as if they have never crossed my mind.
When I vowed to serve Christ, I meant for all eternity. It was a vow I cannot break, just like I refused to break the vow to your mother, when she was paralysed and I nursed her for three years, receiving nothing in return. And when, twenty-seven years ago, she passed on, I almost lost the will to live. But I had a precious seven-year old daughter who needed me, so I struggled on. You gave me a reason to live, daughter. And when I adopted my sister's son, after her tragic death, I found another reason to go on. You both gave such joy, mirrors of your mothers.
Tragedy struck again. The train accident took your brother's life when he was seventeen. And then cancer and pain hit me like a blow. I rallied, and struggled on, despite the continual pain. Strength was His to give.
I confess that I often felt like a rattler. Remember those toys a baby plays with. A little wooded toy, with beads inside. When you shake it, it rattles and makes noise. This, I figured, is what Satan was doing to me. Shaking and rattling up my life, daring me to curse God, just like he did to Job so long ago. But I have realized I am not Satan's to play with. I belong to Christ.
To answer your question, daughter: God's love does not mean that life won't hit hard. It means He will carry you through the bad times. His strength was there, daughter, every moment of every day. The struggles. The joys. Good times and bad.
But I joy in this. That through the hard times, Satan did not win. He would have loved to crush me. Break me. But I am reminded of these verses, by Paul. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed: we are perplexed, but not in despair: persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed”. (2Cor 4:8-9 KJV) Dear daughter, Christ makes this possible. It is hard to explain, and trying to would simply be like trying to explain a lovely dream. Impossible.
So I leave it to you to figure out. Just know that He is a God of love. It is enough.
* * *
The old man laid down his pen, picked up the letter to seal it, and sighed. The room had grown dark, and his breathing laboured hard. His strength failed, his head drooped. The paper drifted to the floor.
Heaven bowed to receive him.
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