Even though I knew better, one of my first thoughts after I got the news that Dominic had run ahead to heaven was, “Is God punishing me?”
Because when something THIS awful happens, it seems logical to assume it is in response to a massive cosmic imbalance.
As a matter of fact, even though it sounds counter-intuitive, it’s almost more comforting to believe there is a discernible reason behind my son’s death than to swallow the truth I may have to live the rest of my years not knowing.
I combed through my life-searching every nook and cranny-for what I did that deserved this kind of retribution.
And while I, like all of us, have a closet full of sin, I could not find a single transgression that rose to the ranks of demanding my son’s life in payment.
But then I realized that any of my sins-whether I counted them big or small-DID demand payment.
And God sent HIS Son to pay for them.
To us, the greatest demonstration of God’s love for us has been his sending his only Son into the world to give us life through him. We see real love, not in that fact that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to make personal atonement for our sins.
I John 4:10 PHILLIPS
They HAVE been paid for. All of them. Every single one.
There is no sin debt outstanding.
That’s an important concept to grasp. It is absolutely critical that bereaved parents (and others who suffer horrible tragedies) get this theological point right.
God is not out to extract payment for sin.
Now, He may well allow us to suffer the natural consequences of our sinful actions. There may be things we must endure because of sinful choices we make.
But that is very different than suggesting God is visiting sickness or death or ill fortune on a heart because of unconfessed sin.
As a matter of fact, that was precisely the charge God Himself laid against Job’s friends when they simply would not let go of the idea that Job must have done something to justify his suffering.
After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. 8 Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” 9 So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.
Job 42:7-9 ESV
Even Job wanted God to explain Himself.
While the Lord showed up, He never did give Job an answer.
Instead HE asked the questions.
We like to think we can figure God out, dig up the reasons why this happens or that doesn’t.
Truth is, we’d do better to follow Job’s example once he encountered the Living God:
Oh, I am so small. How can I reply to You?
I’ll cover my mouth with my hand, for I’ve already said too much. (Job 40:4)
Before I knew only what I had heard of You,
but now I have seen You.
Therefore I realize the truth:
I disavow and mourn all I have said
and repent in dust and ash.
Job 40:4 ; Job 42:5,6 VOICE
God’s thoughts are not my thoughts, His ways are not my ways.
But He is perfect.
He is SO perfect that He has provided the once and for all sacrifice that satisfies the price of sin by the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
I may not understand (DO not understand!) why He has allowed my son’s death. But is was NOT punishment. God does not lie.
I can rest satisfied in that truth.