I may never fully understand this side of Heaven why my girl had to leave us so early, but something weird and profound keeps pounding through my head that helps me to understand that there IS a reason. It doesn’t matter if I like that reason or not. What matters is that there IS a reason.
What if God Himself sat you down at the table and said this to you, in regard to your 16 month old “healthy” babygirl:
God: “Okay, I have a decision that I need you to make. This is going to be a tough one, but I’m going to let you make this decision. I see you like to have control and prefer for all of your prayers to be answered according to your own will, so this time I’m going to let you choose. Here are your options…
1. I will allow your baby girl to live to a very old age. She will be healthy, happy, and will have a lot of love to give. She will have lots of friends, and will do good things for others. She will have a great husband, great children, and beautiful grandchildren. She will be successful in whatever she decides to pursue in life, and will be present at every family gathering and every holiday for a very long time. You will have lots of wonderful memories together. She will travel the world, helping children in need, and she will put forth effort to feed the hungry. But, she will not ever come to truly know Me and accept the gift of salvation that I have to offer her. She will be so busy doing good, but will never take that step of faith that will enable her to have eternal life in Heaven. In other words, you will have a great time with her here on Earth, but after that, your time with her will be gone forever.
2. You will have to let her go now. She’s too young to understand how to make a choice to follow me. Her future in Heaven is sealed, because she will leave us before she is old enough to be held accountable for her choice whether or not to follow Me. You will miss her every minute of every day here on Earth. You will cry more tears over losing her than you ever imagined possible. You will be saddened all the days of your life over broken dreams and missed memories. You will not get to see her go off to kindergarten. You won’t get to see her bring home her first report card. You won’t get to see her in dance recital. You won’t get to see her graduate high school. You will miss watching her fall in love. You will not get to watch her walk down the wedding aisle. You will not get to cry as you watch her hold her newborn baby. She won’t be sitting across the table from you at Thanksgiving and Christmas. But, you will have the assurance of knowing where her soul is, and because you, too, are a follower of Christ, you will one day get to see your girl again. In fact, you will get to spend as much time with her as you want on the other side of Heaven. But you have to say goodbye to her for now.
Can you imagine having to make a choice like that? The proper Christian response would be “okay, God, take her now”, but who could make a decision like that? Who could stare something like that in the face and be able to make any kind of logical decision, and then feel good about it? Who could kiss their daughter goodbye on this side of Heaven, knowing that you were given an option to keep her here with you much longer?
I have had to kiss my daughter goodbye, but it wasn’t because I chose to let her go. I wasn’t given the option. I didn’t have the control that I once thought I possessed. But would I have wanted to make a choice like that? No. How terrible.
I miss Sadie with every ounce of my being. I would have died in her place if I was allowed that opportunity. We went to great measure to try to save her life here on Earth. We wanted her here with us, for Christmas, for birthdays, for weddings. We wanted to do life here with her. But one way in which I can rest assured is that I know where my girl is. I know I will see her again, and I know we will get to make lots of pretty amazing memories. I just have to wait a while before that happens. For that I am hopeful and grateful.
In the meantime, Sadie is right here in my heart. She is in lots of other people’s hearts, too, from what I am hearing and seeing. Her life is giving us an opportunity to realize close-up that there are needs, and we can help meet them. Her joy while she was here helps give us reason to spread joy to others. The fact that we know where she’s at gives us hope for the future, and a reason to push forward with confidence that the One who protects us knows far better than we do what is best for us. There are just some decisions that we have to let God make. And then we have to choose to trust Him. That will be reflected not by our words, but by the way we live our lives. That will be reflected by the condition of our hearts. And that will be reflected by our desire to help other people have the same peace that has filled our own hearts.
This doesn’t mean we are superhuman and will never shed a tear when our hearts have been torn into a million pieces. But it does mean that when we finish crying, we can stand up, speak up, and look up and know that He has us safely in His hands. That is, if we choose to put our faith in Him, through the good times AND the bad. He is there. He is able. He is good.