“‘There shall be showers of blessing;’
This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
Sent from the Savior above.
“Showers of blessing.
Showers of blessing we need;
Mercy drops round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.” 1
tried to sing, but the words stuck in my throat. We’d just been told in staff worship that Pawpaw, the three-year-old son of one of our nurses, had died Saturday evening. The disconnect I felt between the song’s lyrics and the loss of this precious child rendered me silent.
I’d examined Pawpaw the previous Thursday afternoon when his mom brought him to my office. “He hasn’t urinated since Monday,” she said anxiously.
Our diagnostic and treatment options are limited at Waterloo Adventist Hospital in Sierra Leone, so I conducted the tests I could, hoping there’d be something I could do to help. I suspected renal failure, but I had no way to prove it, and, in any case, no way to cure it.
Pawpaw lay listlessly on the table while I performed an ultrasound. That was bad sign number one. Normal three-year-olds don’t lay still on an exam table; they kick and scream. Bad signs numbers two, three, and four were the lack of urine in his bladder, his huge kidneys, and the fluid in his abdomen. All together, they told me this child was in big trouble.
When we received the results of our studies, we realized there was nothing we could do to help. We decided to have Pawpaw transferred to a pediatrician in nearby Freetown, afraid he’d be as helpless as we were.
Things looked up Friday when Pawpaw urinated. He was taken to Freetown Saturday morning. He died Saturday evening.
This afternoon, my wife, Bekki, and I attended Pawpaw’s funeral, our first funeral in Africa. There were heartfelt prayers, inspiring songs, encouraging words about God’s love and care, and a lot of crying. The hardest part was seeing the boy’s five-year-old cousin screaming “Cousin, come back! Cousin, come back!” when he first saw the casket.
A few months ago, the wife of our cashier was brought in unconscious after delivering her baby at home. We don’t have an obstetrics unit yet at the hospital, so the family chose traditional care instead of taking the woman to the government maternity center. She died shortly after arriving at Waterloo, leaving our cashier a widower with three children, including a newborn.
We have a hospital staff of 45 employees, and two of them have lost young family members in the past two months. I don’t know anybody who would equate these losses with showers of blessing.
Recently, I’ve been studying the book of Job and the question of human suffering. The conclusion I’ve come to is that there is no good answer for it. There’s nothing you can say to a mother who’s lost her only child or a husband who finds himself alone with a newborn. There is no explanation, no “greater good,” no “cosmic purpose.” As one author put it, “Sin is an intruder, for whose presence no reason can be given. . . . Could excuse for it be found, or cause be shown for its existence, it would cease to be sin.” 2
During Pawpaw’s funeral, someone mentioned that the apostle Paul admonishes us to “In everything give thanks.” Really? I’d never heard that text used at a funeral before. How do you give thanks for the death of a three-year-old?
I don’t think you do. I think we give thanks that this isn’t all there is—that Jesus loves us and died for us and is coming back to restore everything in this world. I think we give thanks that He conquered death and sickness and is coming soon to raise our dead loved ones and take us home to live with Him forever.
These are the showers of blessing that fall around us constantly while our hearts are breaking from the evil and death we see in this world. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
1. Daniel W. Whittle, “Showers of Blessing.”
2. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press®, 1911), p. 493.
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