During our many years in South Africa, many orphan children suffering from HIV-AIDS came to our feeding centers. They were young children, just babies actually, and they contracted HIV-AIDS through horrible circumstances too painful to even mention here. We lost many many of those young children to AIDS. The numbers were in the hundreds. I asked God, "WHY? Why God does this take place under Your watchful presence?"
One of my reasons for returning to the United States, was to escape this plaguing "WHY" question settling into a more insular life away from such heart wrenching experiences. However, this past week while serving on the Fire Ground, another little one passed away in the flames of a horrible fire. Once again, I found myself faced with the daunting, troubling, and at times maddening question, "God, WHY?"
Unfortunately, it is not the first death of a child in my chaplaincy here in Northern Minnesota where I live. Nor, has such tragedies confined themselves to those outside my family as we still struggle with the loss of a little one not more than two years ago. Such pain is not confined just to Africa I've discovered. And, the question continues to surface, "Why God, oh why, does this happen? Why God, do you allow this?" Here is where that question brings me as I ponder along.
What if upon arriving in heaven, one's first glimpse is that of landscaped gardens filled with rolling fields bursting with beautiful, colorful, richly scented, healthy flowers as far as the eye can see? And, stepping forward in that first moment, what if heaven is a place where within the pedals of each flower is the face of a child who passed from this life too soon, too early, and too tragically? And, what if each flower is actually a child? And, that child is a child in fields of children appearing as we knew them only perfect and healthy in every way. And, what if heaven is a place filled with such children just being children who forever laugh, coo, smile, and play?
What if heaven is a place where every parent, every grandparent, every sister, every brother, and every friend remembers not the losses of this life, but rather our beautiful wonderful children gained in the next?
What if, heaven is such a place filled with children? Then truly, every tear will be wiped away, and every painful memory forgotten.
Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.