, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 29, 2014

A loving push from the nest

If healing was not part of the will of God (Acts 10:38), why did it occupy so much of Jesus’ time and energy? There is a wonderful book that you may have read entitled “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” It was written by an intelligent and sensitive rabbi, Harold Kushner, out of the maturity of his own confrontation with one of life’s most hurtful personal crises.

He and his wife had just learned that their young son, Aaron, was afflicted with a strange and mysterious ailment called progeria, or “rapid aging,” and that he would never grow much beyond 3 feet in height. He wouldn’t have any hair on his head or his body, and would look like a little old man while he was still a child, and therefore would also die in his early teens.

The rabbi writes, “How does one handle news like that? I was a young, inexperienced rabbi, who didn’t know much about the process of grieving, and what I mostly felt that day was a deep, aching sense of unfairness. It just didn’t make sense. I had been a good person. I had tried to do what was right in the sight of God … I was following God’s way and doing His work. How then could this be happening to my family? Like most people, my wife and I had grown up with an image of God as an all-wise, all-powerful parent figure Who loved us. Like most people, I was aware of the multitude of human tragedies that constantly darkened the landscape. But that awareness never drove me to wonder about God’s justice, or to question His fairness. I assumed that He knew more about the world than I did.

“Then came the day in the hospital when the doctor told us about Aaron and explained exactly what progeria meant. It contradicted everything I had been taught. I had naively thought that tragedies like this were supposed to happen to selfish, dishonest people whom I, as a rabbi, would then try to comfort by assuring them of God’s forgiving love. How could it be happening to me, and to my son, if what I believed about the world was true?”

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