Columnists > Judgment Calls

In due time

Looking beyond tragedy-with confidence

Issue: "Elaine Chao: Unlikely star," Nov. 3, 2001

We haven't seen all the fallout of this yet. After a stretch of smooth sailing that I mistook for wellness, the child has taken to bedtime queries about orphans-with more than a theoretical interest. This isn't out of the blue, it is on schedule, I suppose: the next phase, a time-released installment of mourning, side effect number 57 of having your daddy ripped from you.

I know what you're wondering, little one: Where are the promises? You cry in the night but ... silence. We have to talk about "time," you and I. My years are more than yours, you know. Not to pull rank, but at 7, patterns hardly begin to emerge. Still, you may have noticed in our Bible stories, the way it feels long between promise made and promise kept. Abraham. Noah. Old man Simeon.

People fall into that time trap, Aimée. They think God forgets, or God is distracted doing something else-and they do anything they please. Cause and effect get all confused for them and they say silly things like: "Let's go back to worshipping the Queen of Heaven, as in the good old days; we were better off then. Ever since we stopped doing it our way and started doing it God's way, we've had nothing but trouble.... What did we gain by serving God?" (Jeremiah 44:17, 28; Malachi 3:14). It's true, they get it upside down, even smart people-mathematicians and presidents.

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Someday your big brother will teach you chess, and that will help. Till then, remember Joseph of the psychedelic coat? How sometimes things that start out bad turn good, and things that start out good turn bad? You and I read about that little Jewish boy's peaks and valleys in a single sitting, from our catbird seat in history. But what about him, Aimée? (I know you're good at imagining.) What did he feel like in that caravan of Ishmaelites?

Let's play this out; how are you at seeing around corners: hated by your brothers, sold like an old Beanie-baby, orphaned like a kitten, a teenage slave. Isn't that bad, darling?

No, it's good! He ends up the household manager of Pharaoh's captain of the guard!

Isn't that good, Aimée? No, it's bad: Potiphar's wife frames Joseph and he lands up back in jail.

Isn't that bad, Aimée? No, it's good! In jail, he hears important dreams that land him as Pharaoh's vizier. Strands of history and geography woven together by a skillful hand, and Joseph saves his dad and brothers, and counts his former troubles but a pittance on the scales.

"The end of a matter is better than its beginning" (Ecclesiastes 7:8). The last chapter is what counts, isn't it? Between the covers of the book, knights will fall, pawns will be sacrificed, bishops will topple and be toppled, rooks will come and go-all those great upheavals and reversals Mary saw in the Spirit, singing her Magnificat.

The faithfulness of God is why the perseverance of man (and little girls) is so important. What you're seeing now is middles, freeze frames, the crest of the curve and not its falling arc, the ball as it looks snapped in mid-air by your Polaroid. But "You have heard of the perseverance of Job and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy" (James 5:11).

There will be magic, daughter mine (I know you are a big girl and you understand). Remember Sleeping Beauty, how the fairies' wands turned arrows of the witch's archers to daisies in mid-flight? Think of it like that. God will turn your hurt to joy, and the Valley of Achor to a door of hope.

Too early to call this tragedy, my girl. Not a forever-after one, at least. A farther seeing eye, before the sun had ever run its maiden course, determined the exact time and place for you, that you might seek Him, and it was in this family (Acts 17:26-27). No slip-ups.

We haven't seen all the fallout of this yet, the gentle misting rain of grace. Of a love and power that more abounds where sin and tragedy abound. Neither the precipitation of Adam's sin, nor of the Second Adam's triumph over it, has all been tallied up to date.

So wait on the Lord, little one, wait. Because of the promises. Because "in due time" He will lift you up (1 Peter 5:6). Because His compassions are new every morning. Because He is good to those whose hope is in Him (Lamentations 3:22). Wait on the Lord, child, and be still. Because we haven't seen all the fallout of this yet.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.


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