Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

October 1, 2017


Reflections on a sad day in September



        As the muggy days of September give way to the cooler days of October, my wife and I remember that awful day in September when the doctor told us our son was going to die. It was a dreadful turning point in our lives.

        It was the 28th day of September, 1955. Dean and I were early for our two o’clock appointment with Dr. T. Forte Bridges, in a small conference room at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Promptly on the hour, the good doctor greeted us and sat down to report on the tests he had made on our two-year-old son David. We were stunned and devastated by his words, but our response to that report shaped the course of our lives over the 62 years since that day of sorrow.

We were 23 years old, too young to comprehend fully what it meant when the doctor said, “Your son is suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia and he has two months to two years to live. There is no cure. All we can do is make him as comfortable as possible until the end.”

Looking back after so many years, it is difficult to understand why we did not drink at the fountain of bitterness. We felt forsaken by the God we had presumed loved us. We were seething with anger, bewilderment and disappointment. But it was while we held the bitter cup to our lips ready to drink that God sent a man to tenderly embrace us and gently lead us in another direction.

Within hours after David died, Dr. Nels Ferre, a Vanderbilt seminary professor, came to our home, put his loving arms around us and said, “I know how much your hearts hurt.  I just want to tell you that God hurts just like you hurt right now.” Those words literally saved us from a life of bitterness. We both had the same response: I can love and trust a God like that!

Early on we were wrapped up in our grief. But gradually our lives changed when we realized that we were not the only people who endured loss and heartaches.  God opened our eyes and our hearts to see the pain that others were experiencing. We began to learn that caring for hurting people is a medicine God uses to relieve the pain in our own hearts.

So, sixty-two years after that awful day of sorrow, we can testify that our God has remained just as trustworthy as He was when He saw us through our son’s death.  Folks our age talk about being in the sunset days of their lives, but we like to think that we are moving toward a glorious sunrise. After all it was God’s light that penetrated our darkness and rescued us from our grief.

The more we see those who are hurting, the more we want to share how good God is and how ready He is to walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death and give us the joy that comes in the morning. Without believing that He “hurt like we were hurting,” we could never have walked through those dark days. And we cannot thank Him enough for the grace, strength and guidance He has provided since that September day so long ago. + + +