My first memory of seeing Joshua was late one evening at our church building. His mom was working on a drama set for the children’s ministry, and she had recruited me to help her. Probably only 4 or 5 years old at the time, Joshua was semi-wrapped in a blanket, sleeping on the floor. “He’s been a real trooper,” him mom said, looking over at him.
Joshua’s mom was a single mom, who did a lot around our church. Because of his mom Joshua grew up in a different way than a lot of kids, with a single mom, yes, but a lot of kids grow up with a single mom. But Joshua’s mom wanted to serve the Lord, and she also had to struggle through a lot, I’m sure, and Joshua was right there, with her. For awhile they lived in a mobile home, parked next to our church office. I had seen Joshua growing through those earlier years, having to be everywhere his mom was. Sure, he had the usual young-boy type of problems — being immature or just annoying. But all little kids can be that way.
Some years ago, the Lord drew Joshua and his mom to the Philippines, for missionary work. We visited them at one point, helping them build desks for their Christian school in the ghettos of Manila. That week, Joshua got a pigsah, which is basically a big boil, and he got it on the side of his face, next to his eye. My sister was there when his mom lanced it so it wouldn’t get worse. She said it was hard to watch, as Joshua writhed in pain. But his mother really did know better than Joshua. The pigsah got better.
I saw Joshua fairly often for a summer a few years ago, when he and his mom were on furlough. I haven’t seen him since.
Today, I got an email. “Sad news” it said. I saw Joshua’s name, and I felt like throwing up. I read it, and I felt like throwing up even more.
Joshua died while skin-diving, helping his mom with a Search and Rescue class.
And now, his mom is alone, knowing her son is with the Savior, but that she won’t see him for a long time.
I can’t even imagine.
I’ve prayed for Joshua’s mom. Because she probably feels so alone, and scared, questioning the God she has served. I’ve prayed that she would be comforted, that she might remember that she serves a Father who knows what it’s like for a Son to die.
Grant her peace, O Great God of Comfort, Great Father and Son and Spirit, the giver of life whose ways are mysterious and good.