10/04/2011 | Share this article:By Carl S. ~
You know how it is. You wake up thinking about someone and can't explain why, and then, after awhile, you understand, because in the back of your mind you are still troubled by some things associated with a person. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say I woke up thinking of faith first, of a loving father, and then Tony, who was only 38 when he died.
Although it has been a few years since then, the events of that day are still with me. In honor of him, I have posted his real name, as well as another’s.
Tony was a hemophiliac; his blood would not clot. Whenever he needed an operation, however minor, special precautions had to be taken. The doctors concluded that he contracted the Hepatitis C that killed him from a blood transfusion.
He was my wife’s nephew, and a considerate, loving, very likeable guy. One couldn't reasonably say, in Christian parlance so passé, that his manner of dying was punishment for anything he did. But, as many Christians believe, maybe it was something his parents did? I tuned into a Christian radio station one day and heard a caller ask if his sins would be the cause of punishment on his children and grandchildren. But what kind of a father would punish even unborn children for the misdeeds of a parent? (My Christian relatives would not dare to ask that question.) No, this loveable man (who looked like Keith Olbermann) was the victim of genetic circumstances, that's all.
It is preached from every pulpit and church-stage in the world that faith is rewarded. Jesus said, "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, ask in my name and it will be done for you."
One morning, my wife was on the phone with her sister-in-law, Sue, who was in the hospital room with their nephew, Tony. What I heard were the words my wife said, repeating Sue’s words. "Oh my God, he's vomiting blood. There’s blood all over the room..." It was agonizing to hear, to picture, and it kept going on and on, for what seemed like hours. Tears were streaming down our faces . . . and than he died. My wife and I hugged, shaking and trembling.
Tragically, Sue STILL believes in miracles and prayer, STILL believes in and trusts and loves an "all-loving father!” After what she experienced in that hospital room, as Tony went through absolute agony, she STILL believes. It is a matter of absolute Christian faith that Jesus assures the believer, "Ask the Father anything in my name and it shall be granted you,” and that, if you have enough faith, you can, “say to that mountain, ’move,‘ and it shall move." Who could possibly have prayed more for Tony than Sue, could possibly have had more faith than Sue? So why wasn’t such powerful faith rewarded with a miracle to save Tony’s life?
One summer day, I watched a TV interview with Ted Turner, who described his experiences watching his brother die of a disease over a period of months. He said that he concluded he no longer believed in a God. But it didn't take the death of Tony to make me an atheist. His death only confirmed my knowledge . . . again.
There are only too many who think that atheism is a "choice." No, belief is a choice, and atheism is only accepting reality. There are times like these when my wife will look over at me to ask why I’m sad, if something‘s wrong, with that loving concern she has. I have to make up some excuse. I can’t really tell her, because she still believes. She doesn’t want to hear this