It was 1975 and our family was living in Regina, Saskatchewan.  In this prairie city my Dad had his first posting as a pilot for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  He’d been serving as an RCMP officer for a few years already, but he finally landed his dream job flying planes for the Mounties.  So it was that he returned to where his RCMP career began, this time with a small family in tow.  While Dad was out flying the Beaver, and sometimes the Twin Otter, Mom was at home with me and my baby sister.

Though I was not yet 3 years old, I have some vivid memories of this time.  On one occasion, Mom was distracted with my sister Gloria in another room.  I was left in the kitchen by myself.  What could possibly go wrong? 

On the counter I spied a glass bottle containing some red liquid.  I was old enough to know that red liquid is generally sweet and tasty.  So naturally I reached up and grabbed the good stuff.  It had a lid that I easily screwed off.  I put the bottle to my lips and drank up.  And I drank the whole thing — polished it right off I did. 

As I was standing there and feeling quite satisfied, my Mom came into the kitchen to see me standing there with an empty bottle of cough syrup.  To my surprise, she became rather alarmed and the next thing I knew we were at our neighbour’s house and Mom was pleading with him to drive us somewhere.  Dad was slipping the surly bonds of earth somewhere over the prairies and our one family car was at the hangar waiting for his return. 

The neighbour seemed to understand Mom’s urgency.  We rushed over to some building on the other side of Regina.  Not long after arriving, I was flat on my back under some bright lights.  Some ladies were pinning me down by my arms and legs.  I was rather confused and distressed by all this.  Then some man came in and he had a machine.  He stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat and, by this time, I was in a wee bit of discomfort and alarm.  Then he turned on this machine to suck out my innards and I thought this was the end.  My not yet 3 year old life flashed before my eyes.  I looked over at my Mom thinking, “Why is she trying to kill me?”

It was only later that I came to understand it was quite the opposite.  When she rushed me to the hospital to get my stomach pumped out, she was saving my life.  But I was too young to understand it.  All my thoughts were of a premature demise.  The second time it happened, I thought the same.  That was after a pleasant snack of grass my Dad had recently sprayed with weed killer.  I’d been pretending to be a cow, you see.  Thankfully, I only had one stomach to pump out and not four.

It was my Mom’s instinctive love for her son that made her bring me to the hospital on both those occasions.  Though I couldn’t understand it at the time, she didn’t hate me and she wasn’t trying to end me.  Years later, realizing this helped me gain perspective on something my heavenly Father did. 

He called my Mom home when she was just 56 years old.  She had been struggling with her physical and mental health for several years and in the end it became too much for her.  She took an overdose of drugs and sadly ended her own life on May 27, 2002.

Mom’s suicide really made me wrestle with God and his ways.  On the one hand, I knew from the Bible that God’s providence encompasses both the things we experience as blessing and the things we experience as adversity – among many other passages, you could refer to Isaiah 45:7, Psalm 71:20 and Lamentations 3:38.  On the other hand, I struggled to reconcile that with God’s goodness and love for us.  How could a loving Father bring so much pain to our lives?

Eventually I realized that a third biblical truth was needed to bring this all together in a way I could accept.  It was simply that God is our heavenly Father and we are like little children compared to him (e.g. Matthew 11:25).  Little children don’t necessarily understand what their parents are doing.  I didn’t understand what my Mom was doing with me back in Regina in 1975.  Now in 2002, I didn’t understand what my heavenly Father was doing.  But I came to realize that my Mom still loved me and what she did in 1975 wasn’t for my harm, but for my good.  My heavenly Father has promised that he loves me and I have to trust that his love is even greater than my Mom’s was and his plans even wiser, even when it came to what happened with my Mom’s death.

God hasn’t promised to give us all the answers to our questions.  I may never fully know why he did what he did on May 27, 2002.  I’m okay with that, because I do fully know why he did what he did on Good Friday at the cross.  The most horrific suffering ever experienced by a human being had a loving, redemptive purpose.  The cross proves God’s love for every Christian.  It shows how we can trust him through our tears.  God is good in the light and he’s good in the darkness.  I can trust him, and so can you.