CHAPTER 2: THE BEREAVED
When you can't see His plan, trust His hand.
Meanwhile at the house where Benjamin, the shopkeeper, used to reside, Sarah, his wife was preparing the evening meal, as the children played outside. As before, the neighborhood children stopped and asked to join them and they agreed. They had played together with these children twice before. The first time was just after their father was killed and these children had suggested they go to Jesus to see if he could revive their father, but their mother, in unbelief, refused to let them go. The second time was after Barabbas had been tried and sentenced and one of the children, having heard about it, brought the news of the pending fate of their father's killer, which made them a little happy again, and their mother too when they told her. Now they were playing together again, and, as before, as they played, they talked. This time the other children again brought news—this time disturbing news.
“Oh, by the way, we heard that the man who killed your father was released on Passover.”
“What? Are you serious?”
“Yes. Remember the rabbi, Jesus, we told you about?”
“The one you thought might have been able to raise up Daddy, but Mommy wouldn’t let us go?”
“What’s he got to do with this?”
“Well, he was also on trial—I’m not sure what for, but anyway, Pilate asked the people if they wanted him to release him, and they said no, release Barabbas—the man who killed your father.”
“So what happened to Jesus?”
“They crucified him.”
“I can’t believe it. That’s so unfair!”
Supper was almost ready, so she decided to call the children. "Supper's almost ready. You children come on in and wash up."
Reluctantly they came in. "I’m not hungry, Momma, " protested Joseph.
"Me neither" added Jake.
"Now children," she scolded, “I know you miss your father. I do too. But we must go on with our lives. He would have wanted it that way." She set the dinner on the table, talking as she did so. "We simply can't starve ourselves to death because your father was killed--especially you children. --Yer still growin’!"
“I suppose not" ventured Jake. "But, we heard something else today that makes us a bit upset."
"What did you hear, children?" she asked.
"Maybe we better wait till after you eat your supper to tell you."
"No, you mentioned it, so go ahead and tell me now. Whatever it is it can't be as bad as the news of your father's death."
"You tell her, Jake"
"No, you tell here, Joseph."
"Will one of you tell me!"
"When we were outside playing, some other children came by and they told us that the man who killed Daddy was released.”
“What did you say?”
“Daddy’s killer was released from prison.”
She gasped. “What? Are you serious?”
“Yes." answered Joseph. "Remember the rabbi, Jesus, we told you about?”
“--The one," added Jake, "that we hoped might have been able to raise up Daddy, but you wouldn’t let us go?”
“What’s he got to do with this?”
“Well, he was also on trial—I’m not sure what for—but anyway, Pilate asked the people if they wanted him to release him, and they said no, release Barabbas—the man who killed our father.”
"What?!" Her face was flushed. “What's wrong with this world? Is there no justice? I take back what I said about there being a reason for it. There is no reason—No reason at all.”
The older son, Joseph, put his arm around her to comfort her. “There, there, mother. You mustn’t take on so. There still must be a reason. We just haven’t seen it yet. Didn't you tell us that everything happens for a reason?"
“I suppose I did." she sobbed. But by now the other children were crying too. Sarah let out a big sigh and reached to put her arms around all of them. “Thank the good LORD we still have each other,” she managed. “I don’t know what I would have done without you children.”
“And we surely don’t know what we’d have done with you.”
Now Joseph put one hand on his hip and asked “But, Momma, what are we gonna do now?”
“What do you mean, Joseph?”
“I mean to live. Are we gonna open th’ shop again?”
“Joseph, I don’t want to think about that now. Your father left us a goodly sum of money, so we can get by for a while. We’ll talk about that when th’ time comes.” She sighed again and said: "Now I’m not hungry either."
Joseph sighed a big sigh and said "Come on, Mamma, you told us we need to eat--well, so do you." He looked at the others. "So come on, let's all eat." ”
They did their best to force the food down. As they ate Leah, the youngest, said “I sure miss Daddy."
Sarah sighed a big sigh and said “I guess I miss him more than any of you. But, we just have to get used to his not being here and go on with our lives.”
“I guess you’re right, Momma, but why did he have to die?”
“I’ve been askin’ th’ good Lord that a million times myself. But, as your brother has just reminded me, there must be a reason. Some things we’re probably never meant to understand on this side of th’ grave.”
They ate in silence. When the meal was over, Joseph, the older son raised his eyebrows and asked again “But, Momma, what ARE we gonna do? I think we need to talk about it now.”
“What do you mean, Joseph?”
“I mean how are we going to live? Are we gonna open th’ shop again, or what?”
“Now, Joseph, I told you I don’t want to talk about that now. Your father left us a goodly sum of money, so we can get by for a while. We’ll talk about that when th’ time comes.”
“But, he didn’t leave enough for me to go to college, right?”
“No, son, I’m afraid, he didn’t. He was trying to save up enough for you to go to Rabbi School -- working such long hours at the shop. And now, he’s gone, before he could—killed by a no- good robber, and th’ man let go free. It’s just not right, Joseph.” She broke down crying again. “It’s just not right, Joseph, It's just not right. What is the world coming to? No Joseph, there IS no reason for it. I take back what I taught you. In this case, there is NO reason at all.”
“O’ Momma, there has to be a reason. I don’t know if I’d really want to be a Rabbi anyway."
"But Rabbis make good money," she insisted.
“I know, Momma, but, If we open th’ shop, I could run it. Daddy taught me a few things about th’ business and the rest I could pick up from some of th’ other merchants.”
She let out a big sigh and put her arms around him. “Now Joseph, I said, we’d talk about this later. Anyway, I couldn’t bear to think that what happened to your father, might happen to you. If you run th’ shop, who’s t’ say there might not be another robbery, and you’d get killed. No, I just couldn’t bear that.” She started sobbing uncontrollably again.
Now all the children tried to put their arms around her.
“O.K., Momma,” Joseph said, “We won’t talk about it now.”
“Or maybe never?” she ventured, still sobbing.
“Or maybe never.”
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