A Father’s Love

As I write this, I’m sitting in a hospital room in Miami looking over my son. He’s trying to sleep but the pain keeps waking him up. Parents absolutely hate seeing their children suffer. We would willingly take their place in an instant if possible but, of course, we are often helpless to do anything but pray.

A blood clot was discovered in his upper arm after it swelled twice its size. The skilled doctors moved quickly to remove the clot but with obvious concern. Most healthy 20-year-olds do not develop blood clots. “Venous Thoracic Outlet Syndrome” was found to be the culprit and surgery to remove his first rib was the solution. It was a shock to all of us and the reality hit hard. Dave was playing well, he was leading his team with an amazing .579 batting average in ACC conference play (.328 overall) and was just starting to hit his stride.  The last place he wanted to be was in the hospital…again.

Now, before I go any further, let me quickly say that David is expected to have a full recovery and return to baseball in due time. While scary and disheartening, there are countless others facing far more devastating issues. The truth is, we are very blessed to have discovered this issue now. We thank the Lord this did not result in a far greater tragedy.

A few days before David’s six-hour surgery, I had finished reading Bill O’Reilly’s book, “Killing Jesus: A History.” It is not a religious book, but was helpful in better understanding the political and religious climate amidst the events leading to Christ’s crucifixion. As I sat watching David struggle through pain, my thoughts wandered to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.

We know the story well. Jesus went with his disciples to the Garden to pray. He knew the road he was about to take and knew full well the terrifying suffering he would endure at the hands of a professional Roman crucifixion death squad.  The account in Matthew 26:36-46 (NLT) says Jesus was anguished and distressed. Verse 38 reads, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.” Three times he prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

As a father, I would do anything to protect my son. If I had the power, I would have cured his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome before a scalpel ever pierced his skin. If I had the power and my son was in anguish and asked me to take away the cup of suffering he was facing, I would not have hesitated.

God the Father had that power — and He did not use it. That blows me away.

It is even more profound when Jesus said to Peter, “Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly?” (Matthew 26:53). But then Jesus immediately adds, “But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”  Right after that his disciples deserted him and fled, but Jesus willingly and purposefully moved on to face the cross to redeem you and me.

Several days have now passed since I started this letter to you. David was in the hospital for eleven long days but is now home recuperating. He can hardly wait to once again pick up a baseball bat and start swinging for the fences. Lord willing, he has many days ahead to enjoy the game he loves and I’ll resume my place in the stands to cheer him on. We are very grateful for skilled doctors and modern medicine. We are most grateful, however, for God’s grace.

I’ve thought a lot about God the Father’s restraint as He watched His one and only Son being crucified. Of course, He knew that death could not hold his son. And He knew His Son, the perfect lamb, had come to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

As I discussed these things with Al Valdes, LOGOI’s professor of biblical studies, he simply smiled and quoted John 3:16:

Thank God for Easter!