I was walking through the house, intent on tasks I had ahead of me to prepare for the unfortunate funeral we had coming up in a few days’ time. I walked past the couch when my 5-year-old son looked up at me, his big, brown eyes wide with undeniable concern and fear.
“Mom, Uncle David died??” he asked, waiting on my reply, tears starting to brim in his eyes. I stopped abruptly, unsure of how to answer, suddenly realizing he found out the news sooner than I had anticipated.
I wasn’t sure how to respond right away. Our son had been alive for the death of his great-grandfather a few years ago, but now at the age of 5, this was the first time he could grasp the concept of death and that his great-uncle would not return. Uncle David’s death had been so sudden, so unexpected, that the shock waves rolled through all of us and our community in ways for which we still can’t account.
“Yeah, buddy, Uncle David died”.
“Why did Uncle David die?”
“I’m not sure buddy. Sometimes things happen and we don’t know why. Sometimes they don’t make sense and they’re not fair.”
At this point, I had no idea where the questions would lead next. My son was trying to process this huge information he had just learned minutes before, and I could see the wheels turning in his little head, trying to make sense of something that did not make sense to any of us. Our Uncle David was a bright and vivacious man, his face always adorned with a smile. He was a family man who loved his family fully and completely, and who lived to serve others before himself. He was a fixture in our small community, working for the town and a faithful member of our church for the last year and a half. And now, he was gone, from a sudden and inexplicable medical complication that seemingly appeared out of thin air. It just did not make sense. I took a breath, steeling myself for whatever questions were coming next.
“Mom, is Uncle David in Heaven?”
“You bet he is! He’s in beautiful Heaven right now, looking down on us”.
“So he’s with God? And God’s taking care of him?”
“Yes, he’s with God. God’s taking care of him now”.
“And he’s hanging out with Poppy?” (Poppy was our dog we had lost recently).
I smiled a little and replied, “Yeah, buddy, he’s hanging out with Poppy now too”.
And that was the end of it. It was final. Done. Complete. My son’s demeanor completely changed. The fear in his eyes was gone, the brimming tears dried up, and a smile returned to his face. God was undeniably there with us in that moment.
I was astounded at this interaction my son and I had in a manner of maybe less than two minutes. What made the biggest impression on me in that moment was the certainty and assurance that radiated from my 5-year-old after he peppered me with questions. He was undeniably confident. He was sure. He knew exactly where Uncle David was. He knew exactly who he was hanging out with up in Heaven. He knew Uncle David wasn’t alone and that God was taking care of him. My son then went on with his day with this newfound knowledge and confidence that our uncle was ok. To be honest, I kind of envied my son’s certainty in that moment.
It made me pause and think about the certainty of my own faith and confidence in God. I believe in Jesus and have accepted Him as my Lord and Savior, but there are moments when my faith gets shaken, tested, and stretched. I’ll even venture to say that many adults may echo this sentiment as well. In Matthew 18:3-5, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me” (NIV).
Young children got it right. They don’t doubt or question what they know, see, believe, and understand. They think in concrete and simple ways, and the world makes sense to them. They can do anything. Their faith, their joy is simply unshakable. But as they grow and develop, the world tightens its strong grip and robs them of innocence; we adults are the ones who tend to over complicate, confuse, and mishandle simple things in our short lives, and forget what truly matters…more like, Who truly matters. John 1:10 states, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him” (NIV). If only we were to have childlike faith like Jesus had instructed, we would recognize Him and the blessings He bestows upon us each and every day in this world, even when things don’t make sense and life gets hard. My son misses our uncle, but he knows he’s with God up in Heaven. There is no doubt, no question about where our uncle is anymore, and my son is happy in living in that assurance, and so am I.
Jesus wants us to believe in Him: without doubt, hesitation, and reservation. We need to remember that the world may not always care for us, but Jesus, our Savior, loves us every single day. It’s a promise, it’s guaranteed in His blood, it’s a rock solid truth. Like little children, we can have the confidence and certainty in Him that even though sometimes the world may not make sense, and we may hurt, cry, and misunderstand, we will be ok because Jesus loves us.
In Loving Memory of David Alan Romine
August 20th, 1956-June 14th, 2018