In Richard Lischer’s memoir of his first pastorate, he tells the story of his second son Adam’s birth. Born big and robust, within hours he was rushed to a neonatal intensive care unit as he struggled to breathe, with a condition that doctors suspected could be fatal. Nevertheless, the baby rallied. As Lischer stood the next Sunday in front of the congregation, he experienced what he described as an “unexpected little breakdown” as speech failed him. He stopped midprayer, and the congregation stopped with him (Richard Lischer, Open Secrets: A Memoir of Faith and Discovery [New York: Broadway Books, 2001], 78–79). Silence prevailed again in 2005 when Adam, by then a successful lawyer, was diagnosed with cancer and succumbed three months later to the disease. Lischer wrote, “When you get perspective, your faith tells you there is a basic goodness in the gifts God has given. It’s a terrible thing what happened. But that he was here in the world—that was good” (Yonat Shimron, “Theologian Richard Lischer Tries to Make Sense of His Son’s Death,” Washington Post, April 18, 2013,https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/theologian-richard-lischer- tries-to-emake-sense-of-his-sons-death/2013/04/18/795a3e44-a85e-11e2-9e1c- bb0fb0c2edd9_story.html). God’s goodness is not diminished by suffering, as we continue putting our trust in him.
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