“Is Daddy going to be ok?”
At 10:30 p.m. on December 23, one of my children was brave enough to utter the burning question that I didn’t have the courage to ask. I was scrambling to get out of our house and follow the ambulance to the emergency room. Only minutes earlier, my healthy, strong, full-of-life husband had suffered a stroke. I had no idea what the next hours and days would hold. But the question demanded an answer.
How does a parent offer hope and comfort when the reality of circumstance is a dangerously wild animal—unpredictable and threatening to destroy more than we could bear to imagine?
We plan and read parenting articles and labor over decisions that we think will define our kids’ lives, but the truest tests of parenting (and of life) arrive unannounced and unanticipated. Pop quizzes turn out to be final exams, revealing the truest truths about what we believe.
Every fiber of my momma-being wanted to reassure my children that everything would be ok. That they had nothing to worry about. I wanted that same reassurance for myself. But somehow, we all would have known that I was offering a shiny pink band-aid to cover the gaping wound inflicted by the children in the Garden.
“I don’t know,” I responded. “But we’ll pray that he’ll be ok, and no matter what happens, the Lord loves us and will provide what we need.”
In the days and weeks that followed, my hopeful declaration proved to be true. The Christ we’ve read about and talked about and sung about is, indeed, alive and with us. He loves us and provides, even in the most unthinkable circumstances, all that we need.
The Gospel of Mark assures that “He has risen…he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you” (16:6-7 ESV).
Eugene Peterson offers a tangible, real-life application:
In every visit, every meeting I attend, every appointment I keep, I have been anticipated. The risen Christ got there ahead of me. The risen Christ is in that room already. What is he doing? What is he saying? What is going on?. . . I have taken to quoting before every visit or meeting: ‘He is risen. . . he is going before you to 1020 Emmorton Road; there you will see him as he told you.’ Later in the day it will be: ‘He is risen . . . he is going before you to St. John’s hospital; there you will see him, as he told you.’ When I arrive and enter the room, I am not so much wondering what I am going to do or say that will be pastoral as I am alert and observant for what the risen Christ has been doing that is making a gospel story out of this life.
The promise is true.
“He is risen. . . he is going to the bonus room before you, where you’ll tell your children goodbye and answer hard, hard questions.”
“He is risen. . . he is going before you to the emergency room.”
“He is risen. . . he is going before you to the neuro-intensive care unit.”
“He is risen. . . he is going into your children’s bedrooms, steeped with fear and tears on behalf of their beloved daddy, before you.”
“He is risen. . . he is going before you to every speech therapy and cardiologist and neurologist appointment.”
“He is risen. . . he is going before you to all the places where you’ll be faced with unknowns—about health and work and life in the future.”
It’s the answer to all the pop quizzes that life will spring upon you and upon me:
He is risen.
And he is going before you.
Tell it out with joyful voice:
He has burst His three days’ prison;
Let the whole wide earth rejoice:
Death is conquered, we are free,
Christ has won the victory.
New Year’s Eve 2015. May we never forget.
_ _ _
Given all that has transpired in our family through these past months, I haven’t written anything since before Christmas. It was my great honor to write this piece in collaboration with other artists from my church community as part of an Easter devotional series, Out of the Depths. Take a few minutes to listen to Christ is Risen. Words by Cecil F. Alexander. Music by my friend, Stewart Fenters.