“Why won’t God save my dad?” I never thought the day would come when my 10-year-old son would ask a question so thought-provoking that it would leave me utterly speechless.
The days and weeks leading up to the question had been, shall I say, hard. At the time, I was a single mother of three who had just repatriated back from Abu Dhabi to America. Coming “home” should have been a relatively easy transition, but the tenants occupying our house refused to leave despite the 30-day notice to vacate and their failure to pay rent. We were literally still living out of our suitcases, occupying two rooms in the home of one of my generous besties. I couldn’t help but think that this was not how moving back to America was supposed to play out.
Within 72 hours of landing, I had called the kid’s father to let him know that we had arrived. He informed me that he would be having a biopsy completed because doctors thought he might have cancer.
Two weeks later, he updated me and explained that he indeed had cancer and that it was Stage 4.
How was I supposed to explain to children who had left their friends and school and had moved from another country only to be “homeless” in America that their father had Stage 4 cancer and was not expected to live much longer?
THIS WAS TOO MUCH!
As a parent, I knew the importance of keeping an open line of communication with each of them. One day, I decided that Za and I needed some one-on-one time. I was watching my caring, genuine, and compassionate kid slowly exhibit some out-of-character behaviors. I decided to take a walk with him to find out how he was adjusting to all of the changes. As we walked down the driveway and before we could make it to the sidewalk, he hit me with the most unexpected question: “If God loves me, why won’t he save my Daddy?” Here was my child who reads the Bible for pleasure and can lead a prayer like a seasoned Baptist deacon, rightfully questioning the acts of God.
For a person who spent several Sundays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in the pews, and had done my fair rotation of summer vacation Bible school, I was speechless. I couldn’t draw on the words of one sermon that would help me explain to my 10-year-old that although God has the ability to heal all, and despite the fact that I’d been telling him to pray for his father every night, there was still a possibility that his father could lose this battle.
“Sometimes the question is not how to find the answer, but how to live without one.” -Unknown
What I did know is that I was not going to tell him to not question God, nor was I going to end the conversation. I’ve taught my children to respectfully question anything that they don’t understand and here he was implementing one of the key lessons I’d taught him. It was clear that even at 10 years old he was seeking wisdom and understanding.
We walked the block, him with tears pouring down his face, as he continued to question the why’s and how’s behind who God chooses to save and who he decides to leave fatherless. With words full of anger, my son made a very logical statement that was met with my silence. I had nothing! I was simply using all of my energy to continuously swallow the lump in my throat that was holding every emotion and tear that filled me. Now was my time to be his strength, I could not break! But it was also the time to provide clarity!
When I could finally muster up words to console him, I vaguely remember discussing God’s Will, the power of prayer, the importance of making memories, and that his father was still here to fight! I don’t know if any of it made sense to him or if my words were even coherent!
As a mother, I was at a crossroads because for him I was his source of truth and guidance. In his young mind, Mom is supposed to know everything and have all the answers. After walking an entire block, I still don’t know if he left with the answers and clarity he needed. As time has passed, I still have not concluded what I perceive as a sufficient answer to his question.
And now I am left to answer the question, “If God loves me, Why DIDN’T God save my dad?”