A Poignant Farewell

Posted on 20 February 2008
The funeral of Daniel Diji took place at Ferndale on the 9th January. Daniel, born twelve weeks premature, was only a fortnight old. Though full of sorrow, the congregation gathered an sang 'In Christ alone' and 'Amazing Grace'.

In his address, Stephen commented:

‘When I taught at Bible College, students would often ask the ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions of me. How can a God of love allow suffering? Why does an innocent child of Christian parents die in infancy where the pagan children of pagans live a long and damaging life?‘ My answers would prompt them to ask whether their investment in training was worthwhile since my reply was invariably ‘I do not know, I cannot understand’! Simply, there are matters relating to God and his dealings that are beyond the comprehension of finite human beings or are simply left unanswered by God himself.

That God is love and merciful to his creatures is an axiom I accept on the basis of God’s own self-testimony and my experience of him. Not least is this true as I reflect on the marvellous condescension of God the Son in his incarnation to be our Saviour. But, though not without evidence of both him and his ways, there are those paths he traces that defy my understanding and cast me back on ‘simple’ faith; that bid me hold fast to the one who is utterly true and reliable when circumstances seem to betray him.

It is appropriate; therefore, that Paul and Melanie gave this young life that was entrusted to them, oh! so briefly the name, Daniel: ‘God judges’. It is a statement of blind faith that God knew what he doing and his decision is right! And yet, to speak of ‘blind faith’ is, perhaps, not quite accurate. For amid the pain and anguish that we all, to some extent have shared with them, there may grow a recognition that his life was not in vain. There is the love that was elicited among many of us by a little boy that many of us never saw, there is the compassion that was awakened in the hearts of those of us who did ‘know’ him that means he has not passed without touching and enriching our lives. I, personally, count it a privilege to be present for most of his last moments. There is the recognition, too, that it was possibly appropriate that this vulnerable, weak life was taken from us at the very time in which the Son of God visited us in such deep humility‚Ķ and that the arms of that same Son, who bade the little children come to him, has welcomed Daniel home into his warm embrace and has protected him from the many pains that maturity brings.

So, without understanding God’s ways, we can be thankful for this short life and, in the midst of our own darkness, stretch out our hands to him and find his warm embrace. Daniel’s life will certainly not be in vain if we find the occasion of his death an encouragement to seek the one in whose arms he now rests!‘

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