Damned Nonsense

The April Sherman Series follows a young girl growing up in a small town, fundamentalist Christian family.

A Short Story by Bekah Ferguson.

1999

The weekend after Mark Wilson’s visitation, Mom invited her parents (Harold and Joyce Wright), along with my cousin’s family (Kasey’s dad was my mom’s brother), to come for a BBQ on Saturday.  Since it was a hot and sunny day, we all gathered around the patio table in the backyard, enjoying the shade of the parasol. The conversation was happy and light-hearted, until the middle of dessert when Grandma mentioned Mark’s death.

“They were a Christian family, you know,” she said, nodding at my parents.

“Oh, were they? I didn’t realize.” My mom. She seemed to perk up a little at the thought of it. Mom tended to be on the quiet side, reserved. She was skinny too, almost delicate. I once heard my uncle refer to her as “anemic” but wasn’t sure what he meant. I assumed it had to do with her pale skin and lack of energy.

“These things are so dreadful, aren’t they,” Grandma went on, “so very tragic. But God allowed this to happen for a reason. All things work together for good.” A nod of agreement between her and Granddad.

“A good reason?” Uncle Donald said gruffly, setting down his spoon.

We’d all had sundaes for dessert, though I wasn’t finished mine yet. My younger brother slurped up the melted ice cream from his bowl and asked to be excused, running off to play. Uncle Donald leaned back in his plastic patio chair, eyes narrowed a bit. He was tall and fit, dark gray hair buzz-cut. He looked nothing like my mother.

“A child is dead and you say God allowed it for a good reason,” he repeated. “What kind of loving God lets a child die a senseless death, when he could easily prevent it?”

“God is sovereign,” Grandma replied. “He knows all things and sees all things, and as such, allowed this to happen as part of his big picture plan. One day it will all be made clear and in the meantime, we just have to have faith and trust.”

Granddad bobbed his head up and down. “Yes, yes, that’s right. What the devil intended for evil, God intended for good.” A pleasant smile. “It may well be that this particular family needed this tragedy, in order to grow spiritually. God uses suffering to shape and mold us into saints . . . to draw us closer to him, to teach us to lean on him . . . and to bring himself glory. We can take comfort in that.”

“Needed this tragedy?” Uncle Donald sounded angry. “To draw us closer to him, to teach us to lean on him? To bring himself glory? What kind of damned nonsense is that?”

Grandma’s eyes widened and she flicked a glance at Granddad.

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