The overwhelming wave of realization slowly crested and came crashing down on the young man. He slowly folded inward as his strength to hold up a strong front crumbled. But then he turned into the embrace of his father who was kneeling next to the bench he sat on. The new diagnosis of HIV had shattered him, three months into his new marriage, both with what it meant for his future and the shame he felt. Like two figures carved form the same block of wood, the young man turned into his father’s chest, tears flowing down his old blue jacket. His father stared out, like the mother from Dorothea Lange’s famous photo. I sat for a few minutes, a stranger on the outside of this intimate scene.
She was carried into the ER in his strong arms, the blood flowing down his bare arms. She had been hit by a car and it was apparent that she was not going to be with us much longer. Blood streamed from her ears, nose, and mouth. We started to try to stabilize her, protecting her airway and obtaining intravenous access, but we knew that there was nothing we could do to halt the process that had begun. Her father, sensing what was happening, anxiously followed each breath. As they began to slow, he cried out again and again, “Lewa, no can lusim mi,” “My heart, don’t leave me.”
In the love of these two earthly fathers, I glimpsed the smallest picture of what our Father’s love is like for us. These two fathers would have done anything for their children, gladly taken their place. In Isaiah 49:15-17a, God is speaking to Zion, answering their complaints of feeling forgotten: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…”
As we enter this season of Lent, I pray that you would know and feel the love of the Father for you. Even in the midst of darkness and suffering, He is with us.