Tragedy’s Silver Lining

Photo by Simone Viani on Unsplash

by Teena Myers

Jerry and Kathy’s strong willed seventeen-year-old son rejected their faith in God, leaving them one option-tough love. They gave him permission to move out and live life his way. One month before Christmas, he packed and moved in with two friends.

Christmas Eve Jerry took their daughter for last-minute shopping. Kathy spent the morning decorating and contemplating the joy of opening long awaited presents. Thoughts of family reminded her of their son’s struggle. She turned on the television to distract her thoughts.

The Greatest Story Ever Told, about Jesus’ life and sufferings reminded her about Thornton Wilder’s The Eighth Day. Wilder challenged the reader to understand their lives as a great landscape that extends far beyond what the eye of our experience can see. One experience so singularly horrible as Jesus’ crucifixion set in motion a chain of events that blessed future generations. Tragedy may appear to be random, but that does not mean it is. It may fit into a scheme that surpasses even what our imaginations dare to think.

She went to the kitchen to make coffee and heard a low cry coming from outside. She opened the door and a bloody young man with a grotesquely enlarged head covered with contusions fell onto the floor at her feet. His left eye was swollen shut; patches of hair and scalp were missing. She didn’t recognize the face; she recognized the clothes. Her son had come home.

“I’m sorry I hurt you, Mom. I love your more than you know,” he mumbled.

Tears streamed down her face. She fell to the floor, pulled him into her arms and prayed, “Lord, take my life in place of my sons.”

“Kathy, I have already taken your life. I want your son’s,” whispered the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit.

Her arms tightened around his limp body. “Son, fight for your life. Call on Jesus, and you will live.” She gently laid him on the kitchen floor. “I’m going to call 911 and your Dad, I’ll be right back.”

They stood in the hospital emergency room and watched their son whisked behind closed doors. Jerry’s sister and her husband arrived. They walked the corridors, praying and waiting. Hours later they received word their son had responded to treatment.

A greater miracle eclipsed his complete recovery. The morning their son was discharged from the hospital, Kathy awoke to rays of the sun streaming through her window. “This is the day you have prayed and waited for,” resounded in her heart. Recognizing the Lord’s voice, she bolted out of bed, jolting her husband from a sound sleep.

“Where are you going?”

“To the hospital,” she replied.

She sat by her son’s bedside, full of emotion. “Be quiet,” echoed in her mind, withholding a torrent of words threating to burst from her lips.

He opened his eyes. “You’re here early.”

Be quiet.

She drew her lips tightly together lest the wrong word shatter a holy moment in time.

He rubbed his eye and looked at her, deep in thought. “Mom, I am ready to live–I mean really live. Please help me.”

For the first time in his life, he had expressed a desire to yield to the direction of the Holy Spirit.

That Christmas started with tragedy but ended with joy when God gave her more than she could imagine. Her son had returned to accept her faith.

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