God, death, and the blue umbrella

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin <a href="http://creativecommons.org/lice
photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin

My father died when I was eight years old. My mother and I went down the street to a PTA meeting and when we came back, there he was lying on the floor, a victim of a heart attack. Needless to say, it was a hard time. I remember asking God why?

And what are the reasons Christians give?

It was his time (based on Ecclesiastes 3:3, I’m sure).

God, in His infinite wisdom, called him home.

Can you imagine what these reasons mean to a child who has lost a parent? Or maybe all of us in our time of suffering?

In the book, The Blue Umbrella by Mike Mason, Zac Sparks is a ten-year-old boy whose mother dies when she is struck by lightning. Without a father, Zac is taken away to live with his two mean, horrible, evil Aunties. Things in Zac’s life couldn’t be worse (although they get worse because it’s a novel and that’s what has to happen or we wouldn’t keep reading it). Zac comes to a crisis moment when he learns that God controls the weather. Does that mean God killed his mother?

Did God stop my father’s heart?

If either answer is yes, how can we believe God is benevolent?

What I’ve come to realize is that while God in His sovereignty might allow these things to happen, he doesn’t orchestrate them. Why? Because to God, death is an enemy.

For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet. And the last enemy to be destroyed is death. ~1 Corinthians 15:25-6

God never intended for people to die. When He created the world and everything in it, when He called it good, humans and all the animals lived a peaceful, perfect existence. It wasn’t until Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that death entered the picture.

So what I realized, and I think what Zac realizes in The Blue Umbrella, is that until Christ’s return, God protects our loved ones until we can be reunited with them. My father (and Zac’s mother) are waiting with Jesus in heaven.

Sadly, that is not the case with everyone, only those who love Jesus and believe He died in their place.

The Blue Umbrella is a wonderful novel meant for younger readers. Although it’s vocabulary will challenge many (don’t worry, there’s a glossary at the end for words like pedantry, promontory, and phosphorescent), the book is similar in ambiance to Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. Safe for the whole family, and heartily recommended. The Blue Umbrella is a wonderful allegory that will make you smile.

Thoughts on death, Christian platitudes, books, or umbrellas?

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6 thoughts on “God, death, and the blue umbrella

  1. This sounds like a really good book to help kids with those tough questions. I was fortunate to grow up without real loss though I was always aware of it around me. Like when my grandmother died when I was 9. I barely knew her but I felt horribly for my dad. Especially since his father had died when he was 14. I remember praying and praying for him since I didn’t know what else to do and all I could do was imagine how it would feel to be in his shoes.

    Most platitudes are just too horrible and thoughtless – “she was so wonderful, God wanted her with Him” or “God needed another angel” – seriously? And according to Webster’s a platitude is “a banal, trite, or stale remark” – I’ll say. I think people resort to them because they don’t know what else to say. But that’s not much comfort to the grieving.

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  2. Thank you for bringing this book to my attention. I appreciate your vulnerability in sharing about your father, and how the well meaning cliches affected you. Now
    i really want to read this.

    Like

    1. Thanks for commenting, Kathleen. I don’t mind talking about my father since he died such a long time ago (33 years now). I’ve had a long time to make peace with it, and the wounds left by grief do heal.

      If you do read the book, I’d be interested to know what you think. I thought the writing was fabulous. I like people that use their vocabularies in their writing. 🙂

      Like

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