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A Letter to Henry

• Greg Boyd

It’s a simple but profound truth that God looks like Jesus. This truth becomes all the more important when we face struggles in this world. In this sermon, Greg shares the story of Henry and Henry’s family that faced a battle no parent wants to face.

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Instead of an extended summary, we wanted to share with you Jessica and Ian’s letter to Henry.

Our Precious Henry,

Several years ago we were living in a tiny apartment. Daddy was at work and I took a test. I’d taken pregnancy tests before but this was different – this one showed TWO lines! At that moment I was struck by the symbolism – a line for me, and a line representing the life I was now responsible for, the life I’d cherish and enjoy the rest of my days. That was my plan. I believe it was God’s plan too.

Enjoying your first two years was more…. more everything than your dad and I thought it would be. More difficult, more rewarding, more painful, more joyful, more tiring and more exhilarating than we ever suspected parenthood would be.

Your sweet cackling laugh always compelled us to laugh along, your big blue eyes could change our made-up minds. We were continuously blown away by your creativity, industriousness, intelligence, and coordination. We speculated that you’d be an engineer or a surgeon or do something to maximize your incredible potential. That was our plan. We believe it was God’s plan too.

When Miri came along we so enjoyed seeing the two of you interact. Your gentle hugs and kisses, the way you’d giggle and chase each other, even your single-word arguments over whether a particular food was “tasty!” or “wummy!” Her look of adoration stuck from the moment she met you, and when you nicknamed her your “Best-Friend Miwi,” we knew you two would enjoy a life-long friendship. That was our plan. We believe it was God’s plan too.

The year preceding your earthly death was difficult. We tried and tried but couldn’t understand the challenges you faced and presented. We had no knowledge of this vicious disease, but learned about grace, forgiveness, patience, and perseverance during this time. We still giggled, still played, still worked, but it wasn’t until your body began to show outward signs that we began to grasp the source of affliction.

When we learned of your brain tumor we prayed. Thousands prayed. We demanded in prayer, we begged in prayer, we took authority in prayer, we took personal inventories and confessed our shortcomings in prayer, we gathered with groups in prayer, and wept silently, alone in prayer.

We did everything we could think of to strengthen our prayers – prayers for a miraculous healing. A miraculous healing was our plan, and we believe that once you became sick, it became God’s plan too.

So many are quick to sign God’s name to your vicious disease, to your suffering, to your death. In the Old Testament, Job attributed his suffering to God too, but after God confronted Job on his lack of understanding about the complexity of the universe, Job repented, admitting he’d spoken of things he did not know (Job 42:3).

Your dad and I also do not know. We do not know why it was you that suffered and died so young. We do not know why the prayers of thousands did not prevail. We just do. not. know.

But some things we do know. We know there is much going on behind the scenes of this fallen world, a world tremendously influenced by God’s powerful adversary. We know that spiritual warfare invades our lives, and often leaves devastation in its wake.

We also know, according to Hebrews 1:3 that Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory and the EXACT representation of God’s being. We know that this exact representation of God, Jesus Christ, came to give life and life more abundantly. So we know your pain, your death, did not come from God, but from an evil place. And we know one most crucial thing – we know how to fight back.

We will fight with… surrender. We choose to surrender the anger, the despair, and defeat we feel. We lay these feelings at the feet of Jesus, to whom the battle belongs.

We know how he fought for us – with complete self-sacrifice. In fact, that sacrifice is our assurance that we’ll see you again.

So we will instead strive to use our energies to be generous to those who could never repay, to be gentle to those who don’t make it easy, to pour into the lives of those who hurt, and to, one act at a time, spread the liberating love of Christ.

We’ll fail at times, but we pledge to live this way, to honor you, Henry, and to honor the One who now gently holds your small hand. That’s our plan. And living a life that loves sacrificially, well, that always God’s plan too.

Sweet boy, we miss you with every breath, but we’ll all be together before you know it, celebrating the ultimate victory of love. Until then Precious One, all our love.

Mom & Dad

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Topics: Fear, God's Will, Pain & Suffering

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4 thoughts on “A Letter to Henry

  1. Renee Ezelle says:

    Greetings to Greg and all at Woodland Hills,

    The sermon, “a letter to Henry” was beautiful and so very encouraging. Thank-you to Jesus for his love being shown through your community of believers. Thank you too!

    I have been listening for about two years now online (I live in California) and have read many of Greg’s books and I can say that it has been a life changing experience for me personally.

    May God continue to bless you with all spiritual blessings and may He continue showing his love through all of you.

    Renee Ezellle
    Visalia, CA

  2. Jason says:

    My hope and prayer is that each and every family who lost children in Newtown, CT and others who experienced great loss and tragedy in 2012 will be able to view this message and experience the love and comfort of the beautiful God revealed in Jesus. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)

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