We prayed for a miracle, we sought the best medical care, we listened to experts and would-be experts, and it could easily have become frantic. But underneath are the everlasting arms (Deut.33:27). God’s determining of our days did not make for fatalism – we wish His will were very different – but did provide comfort that however unsettled and disturbed we were, His purposes would prevail. And His purposes are for good.
The imminent death of little Emily, aged five, has hung like a black cloud over our family ever since her diagnosis with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) in late October 2021. The world suddenly shrank, and any sort of equilibrium seemed to have gone. Finally on Tuesday 24 May 2022 Emily breathed her last. Death stalks the land, and no one will escape.
For the past seven or eight months, Emily has dominated my thoughts in a way that l could scarcely have imagined, and that has been true for others in the family, especially Emily’s devoted parents. People have struggled for words in expressing their empathy and sympathy, and I have likewise struggled. In 1758 Jonathan Edwards died after a smallpox vaccination went wrong. His wife, Sarah, wrote to their daughter: ‘What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud.’ I have the same question: ‘What shall I say?’
God determines our times here on earth.
Before we were formed in the womb, God had written in His book all of the days that were determined for us even before there were any on them (Ps.139:16). ‘Man who is born of a woman is few of days and full of trouble … [and] his days are determined, and the number of his months is with You, and You have appointed his limits that he cannot pass’ (Job 14:1, 5). Not a sparrow will fall to the ground apart from our Father’s will (Matt.10:29). The Lord gives and the Lord takes away (Job 1:21; see 1 Sam.2:6).