In this second summer guest post on “Trusting God When Life Hurts,” Midcoast Maine author Dikkon Eberhart shares about being a church deacon and struggling to comfort a church member experiencing life’s trials. In his words, may you be blessed:
“But if he asks you how, you can tell him that I told you, it’s the Lord.”
“He thinks it’s coincidence.”
“A coincidence is an event during which God remains anonymous.”
The accident—the coincidence—had occurred a week before. Her skeptical husband had skied a black-diamond trail too aggressively, in late afternoon, on wet snow that was freezing back into ice.
In itself, the accident was minor—a snapped tibia. After the accident, however, her husband was unable to take a full breath. The doctor examined his lungs. Tests revealed a genetic condition called Alpha One. His lung capacity was diminishing in a way that could not be stopped—slowed, yes; stopped, no.
The couple had three children—two daughters with a son in between—twelve, nine, and seven. At our church, congregants were assigned to particular deacons; I was theirs.
I didn’t know what to do. That was my burden as a deacon. My biblical call as a deacon was to serve, but I didn’t know what to do.
“You and I,” she said, “we know that the accident was no mere coincidence. But for him, he must have it a coincidence. Otherwise, he would need to contemplate the Lord’s intentionality.”
“Which includes his Alpha One.”
“Yes,” she agreed, and her eyes filled with tears.
“Your life has caromed off in a direction neither of you anticipated.”
“You can tell him I said the same thing happened to both of you when you met.”
A small smile: “He may not want to hear that from you.”
“He won’t talk to me about it, but I know he’s terrified.”
“He knows about Alpha One because of the accident. Otherwise he would not know.”
“For himself he might not want to know. But it’s the kids.”
“The accident was not a coincidence. You can tell him that, and not from me if you don’t want to. The accident was for your children. You have an opportunity to show your children faith and peace and reconciliation with the Lord. To glorify the Lord with your passion for His love. Your husband does, too.”
“Not ‘with the Lord.’ Not for him.”
“No. Not with him, at least not now.”
“He’s a good man.”
“He’s intellectually honest. I experience that, yes. The accident, and your children—that’s God-the-Spirit’s clench on your husband’s heart.”
She did not respond.
“It’s the clench on his heart,” I repeated. “His mind plays all the shenanigans that a modern, skeptical, well-trained mind can play. But this accident—and his love of your children—these may soften his heart.”
“Would that it be so.”
“We must pray that he accepts the goodness by which the Lord gave him this accident. The knowledge that came from this accident may keep your children safe. We must pray that he makes them safe by humble acceptance of his new adventure.”
There was a pause and then she hugged me. “Thank you,” she said, “thank you so much.”
“Not me,” I said ruefully. “It’s the Holy Spirit. For me, I don’t know what to do.”
Dikkon Eberhart is the author of the recently released memoir, “The Time Mom met Hitler, Frost Came to Dinner, and I Heard the Greatest Story Ever Told.” He has an MDiv in psychology and religion and a PhD in religion and art and has worked as a cab driver, gardener, bakers, sales clerk, chef and teacher in addition to being a God seeker and teller of stories.