Irony and Grace

My wife’s and my son, Alex, passed away almost four years ago. He was away at college in North Carolina. One morning, just after accepting a mission call and only a few weeks before he was to return to Utah for Christmas, he woke up with a rare bacterial infection. He died later that same day, less than twelve hours after he went to the health center. I was lecturing in Italy when he died; Nicea was at the airport, trying to get on a flight. He was our oldest child, and our only son.

In the years since Alex died, my thoughts have repeatedly dwelt on a story from the New Testament. The Gospel of Mark describes a man who brought to Jesus his son who was “afflicted with a dumb spirit.” It appears from the description that the boy suffered seizures—he probably had a form of epilepsy. After telling Jesus that the boy had suffered this condition from birth, the father begs Jesus to heal him: “If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.” Jesus says to the father, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” The scripture tells us that immediately “the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” Jesus healed the son (Mark 9:17-27).

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