THE WRONG QUESTION

It was a time in life long ago in a land far away when I first asked The Wrong Question. The year was 1974; I was a twenty-five-year-old first lieutenant in the USAF. My eighteen-month assignment to the small, remote village of Woomera, South Australia was just two weeks from ending when the fragility of life knocked on my door. The events that transpired in those final days rocked the foundation of my faith.

SouthAustralia

WoomeraVilliageTwit

My pregnant wife and one-year-old daughter accompanied me to the Australian outback. We felt it was a great opportunity for us to experience life abroad. The scenery, unusual wildlife, and the Aussie people we met did not disappoint us. We were on top of the world, figuratively speaking, in the land down under, where kangaroo-crossing signs stood along the roadside as a warning to drivers. My second daughter was even born in Woomera, which is story in itself for another time.

KangarooCrossing

Although we had enjoyed living in Australia for seventeen months, we were excited about returning home to the States—just two weeks remained. Suddenly, without any warning, our happy little world came crashing down around us. Our three-year-old daughter started having difficulty breathing during the wee hours of the night. I carried her in my arms to the small hospital because we had recently sold our car. In the few minutes it took to walk there, her difficulty breathing appeared to be getting much worse. I was in ultra-panic mode!

When the doctor examined her, he said there was nothing he could do for her in Woomera. The remote medical facility was simply not equipped to handle someone in her critical condition. What? Critical? She was perfectly fine when she went to bed! The doctor offered little hope that she would survive; his facial expression alarmingly displayed his sense of desperation. Typical of most fathers, I would have given anything to change places with my daughter, but that was not an option.

Australian Flying DrThe Flying Doctor Service airlifted my daughter to a civilian hospital located in the city of Adelaide, over three-hundred miles away. I became even more frustrated when told I couldn’t accompany her on the flight. This was definitely the scariest experience of my young life, but things were going to get worse.

Things were happening extremely fast—my head was spinning! I tried to gather my wits in efforts to figure out how I could get us to Adelaide. First, I humbled myself and asked the young Australian couple if I could borrow the car I had just sold them, which they graciously allowed me to do. Then we had to find someone to keep our second daughter while we were in Adelaide for an unknown duration. A neighbor quickly obliged. Next came getting permission from my commanding officer to allow me to go to Adelaide, which he did without hesitation.

We began the long-slow journey not knowing what we would find when we arrived at the hospital. Ahead of us was eighty miles of dirt road before we reached a small two-lane-paved road outside of Port Augusta that would lead us into Adelaide. We were scared and felt helpless knowing our daughter was in the hospital gasping for each breath. We had many hours to reflect on our situation.

We started asking “WHY” God would allow something like this happen to our precious daughter. She was just an innocent little girl who had done nothing wrong. Then we wondered “WHY” God would punish her for something we may have done. We started questioning our faith and belief in God at a time when we needed Him most. WHYThe question “WHY” kept entering our conversation, but we continued praying. Fear of the unknown was consuming us with each mile we travelled. We kept asking “WHY” He would allow something like this happen to our daughter. WHY?!! WHY?!!

When we arrived at the hospital, a nurse escorted us to the ICU area. The sight we saw was one I’ll never forget. My daughter was still with us, but there were tubes and monitors all around her; she was fighting hard to stay alive. We didn’t know if her next breath would be her last, and prayed that it wouldn’t. The fear of losing our precious child was overwhelming.

Our daughter was in the hands of total strangers in a land halfway around the world from our native land. There were no friends, family, or military personnel to comfort us; we were all alone in a great big world. We prayed; we doubted; we bargained; we prayed harder, asking God to spare our daughter and return her to good health. We were completely exhausted from lack of sleep, food, and the mounting fear—we were numb!

PrayingHands

News of the clear and present danger a young American couple was facing with their child spread throughout the hospital. A pastor came by to prepare us for what might happen. Still searching for answers, we asked him our “WHY” questions.

He responded with the gentle kindness of a man of cloth and reminded us that asking God “WHY” was the wrong question. People have and will continue to ask such questions, but no human possesses the wisdom to answer them. We have to accept the cliché that “sometimes, bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people” for reasons known only to God. We must remain steadfast in our faith and place all of our burdens in God’s hands—we should never stop believing and praying. We won’t always get what we pray for because God knows what’s best for us. He has plans for each of us and is always there for us. He reveals His plans to us in His perfect timing.

To say we felt wonderful after talking to the pastor would be a bit dishonest, but he did give us a thread of hope. We continued to pray numerous times each day. More than a week passed before our daughter started improving and ultimately recovered. A true blessing!

To this day, we do not know the answers to our “WHY” questions, but we thank God for sparing our daughter. We have received many blessings from Him since that experience and understand God’s gift of grace. Our faith has grown stronger.

I share this story with the knowledge that many parents ask the same “WHY” questions but don’t always experience the same outcome we did. I know many parents who have lost a child, and my heart goes out to each of them. Having come close to losing my child, I can only imagine how difficult it was for them to move forward with their lives. What I do know is that those who do move on have true faith in God; their knowledge of His love is a blessing that some may never come to understand.

Life can change in a flash, but those who believe and have true faith in God are equipped to handle whatever challenges come their way. They know they Never Walk Alone!

Never Walk Alone Twit

Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

Romans 8:28 (NIV) 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Tom Tatum – Author – 2015

Twitter: @TomTatumAuthor   LinkedIn: TomTatum1

Facebook page: Tom Tatum novels

Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/tomtatum

9 responses to “THE WRONG QUESTION

  1. I can’t even begin to imagine the fear and feeling of isolation you & Kathy felt. What a beautifully written story. I am so proud of the writer you have become!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you very much, Peggy! It was a difficult time for sure, but so many have experienced much worse. We were blessed by the outcome. Looking forward to 8/7 !!!

      Like

  2. Belinda Crane

    This is a beautifully told story Tom. I can’t even begin to imagine how horrid that drive must have been for you through our desolate lands. I’m so glad that your daughter was saved and solidifying your faith in whatever your beliefs are can come during the most fearful times in our lives. A wonderful story Tom. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Belinda. Other than the final two weeks, the time we spent in your beautiful country was a great experience for us. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Just wish we had been able to visit the coastal areas a few more times.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Belinda Crane

        It is amazing land that is for sure Tom. I’ve never met anyone that wasn’t astounded by its beauty and enormity. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Reading this brought tears to my eyes. I’m so glad your daughter’s life was saved. I’ve often asked, “why?” and this was a much-needed reminder that sometimes we just have to trust God.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Katherine, thank you for the kind comments and for following my blog. The “Why?” question is a tough one not to ask at times, but as you said, keeping our faith and trusting Him is what God wants us to do.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Betty Rowland

    Tom, even knowing this story from Tiffany and Kathy, and knowing the outcome, it still brought tears. So often we ask, “WHY, WHY”, when sometimes the answer is “Why not?” We live in a fallen world and you are right – bad things happen to good people. When my sister and brother were killed, we wanted to know “why” also and prayed for God’s healing touch on them – God said, “No, but my grace is/will be sufficient for you.” And, it was. Life hurts sometimes, doesn’t it? You shared this beautifully and I know it will help many readers. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comments, Betty. You’re right about life hurting sometimes. While in the midst of the pain or challenge, it’s hard not to ask the “Why” questions. We are humans and think as humans, but knowing He has plans for each of us helps us get through tough times.

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