Scenario One: Angela
Angela was sitting on the back porch steps enjoying the warmth of the spring sunshine. She had just finished reading a chapter from her Bible and was still thinking about the things she had read. She had read one of her favorite promises—we know that all things work together for good to them that love God (Romans 8:28).
“I love that promise, Lord,” she whispered. “You’re so good to me.”
Angela had given her heart to Jesus five years before and now, at age seventeen, she was already involved in her church. She dreamed of the future, when she could go into full-time ministry for God. Life was good, and God was good. It all fit together very nicely and it didn’t seem like life could get much better than it was right now.
The harsh ringing of the telephone in the house intruded into her thoughts. She heard her mother answer it and paid no further attention. That is, until she heard her mother say, “Oh no!” in a terrified voice. “I’ll be right down.”
Angela jumped up and ran into the house, almost colliding with her mother. “What happened?” she gasped. She had never seen her mother so agitated.
“It’s your father,” her mother said as she grabbed her purse and found her car keys. “He’s been in a bad wreck. The hospital wants me to come right away.” She paused, trying to collect herself. “The children will soon be home from school. Would you mind looking after them? I don’t know when I’ll be back, but I’ll stay in touch.”
Angela felt as if her heart had turned to stone. Her father? He was her best friend, the one person besides her mother whom she could really depend on. Surely God wouldn’t let him die. She dropped her Bible and sank to her knees beside the living room couch.
“Oh God, please be with Daddy! Please don’t let him die! We need him!” She choked back her tears and tried to remember the scripture she had just finished reading. Surely that promise meant that God was a good God who did good things and only allowed good things to happen to those who followed Him. He wouldn’t let her father die, or would he?
The rest of the day seemed to last forever. Afterwards she vaguely remembered making a bit of supper for her younger sisters. No one felt like eating and most of it ended up in the fridge or garbage.
But she would never forget the phone call. It was her mother and as soon as she heard her voice, her heart sank. “How’s Daddy?” she whispered.
There was a moment of silence. “He’s gone,” she heard her mother say. All the life had gone out of her voice, as if she had nothing left to live for. “Tell the girls. I’ll be home as soon as I can, but I have to give them some instructions concerning his body. I also need to make a few phone calls.”
Angela clutched the now dead phone in her hand for a few moments before slowly hanging up. Her sisters crowded around her. She knelt and wrapped her arms around them. “Daddy’s dead,” she gulped.
The following days were a blur and she could never really remember what happened or when it happened. The visitation, the funeral, the burial—it all blended together. But through it all she kept hearing the same words, repeating over and over in her mind, like a stuck record, “All things work together for good . . . all things work together for good . . . all things work together for good . . .”
It was the beginning of the end. Her girlish dreams had been shattered, and she grew up almost overnight. Her almost naïve faith in God buckled under the load, and she became more and more cynical.
It was the worst when she went to bed and tried to sleep.
“God, you PROMISED!” Even though she lay quietly, she was shouting inside. “You promised that all things would work together for good, if we love you. And I did love you.” She drove her fist into her pillow. “I TRUSTED YOU, God!”
Time healed some of the grief, and life gradually settled into a new normal. But along with the grief, her exuberance died within her. She was never the same again. She never sat on the back steps anymore reading her Bible. Her Bible was gathering dust on her book shelf. Nor did she bother praying. God hadn’t answered the most serious, desperate prayers she had ever prayed. Why should she bother?
It was all over.