And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became ill. David therefore pleaded with God for the child, and David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. So the elders of his house arose and went to him, to raise him up from the ground. But he would not, nor did he eat food with them. Then on the seventh day it came to pass that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead. For they said, “Indeed while the child was alive, we spoke to him, and he would not heed our voice. How can we tell him that the child is dead? He may do some harm!”
When David saw that his servants were whispering, David perceived that the child was dead. Therefore David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?”. And they said, “He is dead.”
So David arose from the ground, washed and anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then he went to his own house; and when he requested, they set food before him, and he ate. Then his servants said to him, “What is this that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive, but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” And he said, “While the child was alive I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now that he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:15-23
Everyone who knew Joy was surprised and happy to learn she was going to have a baby. Her daughter, who was fifteen, said she thought it was a little weird to have her mother and father become “ancient parents” of a new baby, but you could tell she was happy too.
Joy planned to turn the Oak Street Bible Shop over to Gary, and she and her husband Dave were getting ready to move away from the city into a new house. “This is no place for a little child” she said, “all the traffic and not enough room in the yard to really play in. We’ll have five acres for him to run around in. We have no illusions that it will stay that way, but it should be awhile before it becomes crowded out there too. They don’t even have water lines in yet.”
I only saw her little boy once as my visits to the shop were less frequent by that time. Joy, who was still living above the shop, heard our voices and brought him down to show him off. We could hear her steps as she slowly came down the wooden stairs, and through the door with her Timmy on her shoulder. He beamed at us, but especially at Gary. He extended his hand, palm up, to the child as he said “Give me five!” Timmy held to his mother with one hand as he reached out his little arm and smacked Gary’s palm. You could tell they had done this before. It was such a joyous scene in that happy little shop, where I spent so many happy hours.
I lost all contact with Joy and the others as my wife and I moved some distance away. We were about to depart for a long-awaited vacation. We turned on the radio and heard the shocking news of a child who had drowned in a cistern. My wife called from the other room, “That’s Joy’s name they’re talking about!”
Glen told me how this tragedy had come about. By that time little Timmy could
walk and was very active. They had to watch him all the time. A neighbor had a toy poodle that the little boy tried to catch. According to a neighbor he had run after the little dog and had somehow fallen into the cistern. The neighbor had pulled the lid back to measure the water’s depth and been called away. In the short interval he was away, her little boy tumbled through the opening and drowned.
Glen drove out to her house just to be with her. He had to park at some distance because there were so many other cars around. He met a neighbor who told him what had happened on that day. The man and his wife were looking at the house as he spoke. “When her little boy couldn’t be located his mother began to call. Then people joined in the search. It wasn’t long before someone looked into the cistern and saw him. At first there was hope he could still be alive. Someone went down a rope and lifted him, but it was obvious they were too late. When his mother ran to the group of people standing around the cistern she knew right away her chid was dead.”
Glen told me the man described Joy’s reaction in such a graphic way that his wife tried to stop him, but he went on. “She went down on her knees, then fell on her side,” he said. “I shot a deer that went down like that, it was so much shock.” The man’s wife put her hands over her face as if to blot out the memory of it.
Glen walked to the front door and spoke with a relative briefly. He heard Joy call out, “Who is it?” “He said his name is Glen” the relative answered. Joy asked for him to come in and he went into the big living room with a huge picture window. The curtains were drawn and only a lamp on a corner table gave light. Joy was on a couch covered with a comforter. Glen sat on the floor beside her so their heads were even. She put her big hand on his shoulder. “Thanks for coming, old friend” she tried to smile. Glen said nothing. He told me he believed silence was best at a time like that. “The last thing I wanted to do was to preach to her or even try to comfort her” he told me.
“Thanks for understanding” Joy finally told him. “I know you won’t pull out your Bible and start quoting scriptures to me. You wouldn’t believe how many people have been doing that. Women come over and try to comfort me with Bible verses. Their children are alive, what do they know about how I feel?”. Glen looked at her, but still said nothing.
“You know why it happened, don’t you?” She was weak with anger at herself. I was outside with Timmy and heard Dave put some dishes into the dishwasher. I knew it was about full but he didn’t turn it on. Why do men think that only women can turn on a dishwasher! I was sitting on a lawn chair watching Timmy playing and jumped up to start the machine. Then I started talking to Dave about stuff we needed to do, that’s when it happened, he got away from me.”
Glen listened, knowing she needed to talk about it.“You did bring it though, didn’t you?” she asked. Glen looked puzzled, “You did bring your Bible, didn’t you?” she persisted. Glen reached into the inside pocket of his field jacket and brought out his little New Testament. “Joy turned her head on the cushion. “Where does it say Jesus will destroy death?” she asked. “I know it’s in First Corinthians, but I’m not thinking too well right now.” Glen thumbed the pages until he found First Corinthians chapter fifteen. “
For He must reign till he has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. I Cor, 15:25,26
Joy turned her head on the cushion to look up at the ceiling, “How long, O Lord?” was all she said.