Joe looked away and let out a quivering breath. He lifted the water glass and a tear traced down his cheek. He had finally agreed that God didn’t cause evil, but still questioned why bad things like cancer happen to innocent children.
I had told Joe all about my granddaughter with epilepsy, and how my son didn’t blame God but counted his blessings even through the hurt.
And I told him about the girl who asked me to pray for her dad’s car to break down. She said, “It’s embarrassing. He drives me to school in that car, and the door I get out is a different color than the rest of the car. It’s soooo ugly.” She felt like her embarrassment was the biggest problem in the world. But I knew her father. I knew he was a good man that loved his family and was doing his best. No matter how ugly their car door, they were rich in what was of value. His daughter just didn’t see the big picture.
I said, "We can’t see the big picture either. But we can trust that our Father loves us and will always do what’s best for us. And in that we are rich—no matter how ugly the doors we have to walk through."
I talked and talked and talked. I just wanted to comfort my hurting friend, but I was running out of things to say.
Joe made a sad laugh. “Thims—that’s what I called her. She was a premie. No bigger than a thimble.”
I smiled and nodded and took another sip of water.
He rubbed wet from his eyes with the back of his hand. “We’d play ring-around-the-rosy. She loved that game.” He shook his head and stared back in time. “We played so much it made me dizzy.” Joe choked out a sad sound and I could barely make out the words. “Today woulda been Thims birthday.”
Oh God…help. I prayed inside.
About that the door clicked and my granddaughter bounced out, singing to herself she skipped toward the yard. I was glad. I didn’t want to be bothered with her non-stop chatter right now. But, too late. She stopped her skipping and singing when she saw the look on Joe’s face. She stared at Joe but walked to me and crawled into my lap. “What-a-matter with that man?” She whispered through cupped hands into my ear.” Her whisper was loud enough for Joe to hear, too.
He cleared his throat and leaned forward as if to get up. But I found my voice.
“Joe is sad cuz he misses his granddaughter, she was about your age and she got real bad sick and…” I couldn’t bring myself to finish.
Her little hands cupped my face and she looked me square in the eyes. “Did she die?” How could her innocent voice udder such a question? I gave her a tiny nod. She slid off my lap and said,“Was she one of them school kids that got dead cuz of that bad man?”
How does she know about that? I wondered.
“Teacher told us ‘bout it at church.” She answered my question before I could ask. “And I know somethin’ else.” She placed her little hand on Joe’s big weathered farm hand. “Them’s not dead.”
Joe startled and started to pull his hand away from hers, but stopped. They just stared at each other forever—or for a few seconds. I couldn’t tell. Time. Stood. Still. She patted his hand ever so slightly. Joe’s lips quivered, “Thim?”
“Yep, them’s not dead. Little kids don’t die you know—they go to heaven and play ring-'round-the-rosy with Jesus, that’s all.” She patted his hand harder. “So don’t be sad.”
He scooped her up in his arms. I thought she’d be scared but instead she smiled and simply patted Joe on the back of his head.
I had to laugh—and cry just a little.
The next thing you know she slid down and asked Joe, “Will you play ring-'round-the-rosy with me?”
He did. We did. And we laughed until we were dizzy and then we all falled down—because after all, them’s not dead.
Out of the mouth of babes thou hast perfected praise. Mt. 21:16~