Rarely am I moved to tears by the circumstances of a complete stranger.
But reading the story of Ben Sauer has me completely baffled and broken.
· How could a loving, compassionate God allow a sweet 5-year-old boy to suffer and die from a cancerous brain tumor?
· In light of the support from his New York community and media coverage around the world, wouldn’t it have been better for God to miraculously heal this little boy, and show Himself strong on the child’s behalf?
· How do Ben’s parents find such strength? If my child was battling brain cancer, I’d be a complete basket case. But the Sauer family seems to be a pinnacle of grace.
In February 2014, Ben was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain tumor. Its growth would eventually impair his ability to walk, talk, and function as it spread to the areas of his brain that controlled those capabilities. He and his twin brother turned 5 on May 5th, 2014. Ben took his last breath on May 13th, 2014.
I’m not sure why this story hits close to home.
· Maybe it’s our mutual friends from New York who know the Sauer family.
· Maybe it’s the fact that my daughter recently had a traumatic hospitalization, but she was healed and will celebrate her 4th birthday next week.
· Maybe it’s just the familiar sting of pain when we experience loss while expecting a miracle.
Whatever the reason, my heart is heavy for the family of Ben Sauer.
I couldn’t imagine losing a child to cancer. My daughters are so bright and full of life, it just seems backwards to think of that. Why should an innocent child suffer? Isn’t that unfair? Doesn’t God want to bless His children with good things?
The truth is simple: God does bless us with good things. Ben Sauer’s life is a testament of that.
When Ben was born, God gave an undeserved miracle.
Every day that Ben lived, God gave an undeserved miracle.
In the news articles and prayers lifted by millions, God gave an undeserved miracle.
In the final hours of his life and his peaceful transition from this life to the next, God gave an undeserved miracle.
The problem with our human perspective is that we only see one piece of the puzzle. God sees the complete picture. He sees beyond the frailty of our limited understanding, and works all things together for good.
Imagine, for a moment, that you went to a restaurant for dinner. Sitting across the room, there was a white-haired gentleman dining alone. After you ordered and finished your meal, the waitress informed you that the white-haired gentleman paid for your dinner. You approached the man to thank him for his generosity.
“It is so kind of you to pay for my meal, but I really can’t accept it,” you said. However, he insisted, so you thanked him and left.
The next evening, you returned to the same restaurant for dinner. The white-haired gentleman was there again, dining alone. You ordered a meal and ate, and again, the man paid for your meal. Surprised, you expressed your gratitude and left.
You ate at that restaurant every night for 30 days, and every night, the man paid for your meal. After a while, it became routine. You just grew accustomed to the man’s kindness and generosity.
On the 31st day, you went to the restaurant for dinner and the gentleman was there. Only this time, he did not pay for your meal. He paid for another person’s meal.
How would you respond? Would you thank him for all the meals he supplied for you? Or would you hurl insults, blaming him for denying a blessing, questioning his goodness?
I am not entitled to a thing. I didn’t pull myself up by my bootstraps. I am where I am today because of God’s blessing on my life. His unmerited, undeserved favor is the only thing that sustains me.
When the time comes to cross from this life to the next - even in death - God’s goodness is real. We cannot earn His blessing. He blesses because that’s who He is. Goodness and mercy are His unwavering attributes. And His nature is the only thing that we can rely on to faithfully carry us in life and in death.
And if death comes sooner than we might anticipate, rather than question God’s goodness, why not just offer a simple prayer of thanks?
For Ben Sauer’s life, thank you, God.
For Ben Sauer’s new life in heaven, thank you, God.
For working undeserved miracles every day, thank you, God.