During the Civil War, a man had an only son who enlisted in the armies of the Union. The father was a banker and, although he consented to his son’s going, it seemed as if it would break his heart to let him go.
He became deeply interested in the soldier boys, and whenever he saw a uniform, his heart went out as he thought of his own dear boy. He spent his time, neglected his business, gave his money to caring for the soldiers who came home invalid. His friends remonstrated with him, saying he had no right to neglect his business and spend so much thought upon the soldiers, so he fully decided to give it all up.
After he had come to this decision, there stepped into his bank one day a private soldier in a faded, worn uniform, who showed in his face and hands the marks of the hospital.
The poor fellow was fumbling in his pocket to get something or other, when the banker saw him and, perceiving his purpose, said to him: “My dear fellow, I cannot do anything for you today. I am extremely busy. You will have to go to your headquarters; the officers there will look after you.”
Still the poor convalescent stood not seeming to fully understand what was said to him. Still he fumbled in his pockets and, by and by, drew out a scrap of dirty paper, on which there were a few lines written with a pencil, and laid this soiled sheet before the banker. On it he found these words: “Dear Father: This is one of my comrades who was wounded in the last fight and has been in the hospital. Please receive him as myself. —Charlie.”
In a moment all the resolutions of indifference which this man made, flew away. He took the boy to his palatial home, put him in Charlie’s room, gave him Charlie’s seat at the table, kept him until food and rest and love had brought him back to health.
No matter their age. No matter their size. When a father looks into the eyes of their child and sees hurt, he hurts all the same. And to be a father is to see this in a child’s eyes even if he or she is not your own. My oldest is a stoic to be sure, but I saw the look of resignation tonight after he’d completed his first attempt at a baseball workout since his season ended in late July and since undergoing weeks and months of treatment and therapy for his back injury. I think perhaps we were exaggerated in our hopes; and for the first forty-five minutes all went well. And then it didn’t and the balloon deflated. But it is still early, so…
So I’ll keep up the encouragement, or at least as much rah-rah as he’ll stomach. And we’ll try again on Thursday. And then again…and again…and we’ll see.
In the grand scheme of life and of events around the world it seems pretty trite I suppose. But the slow death of their child’s dream, any dream, is relished by no parent.
They hurt. You hurt. It’s in the old job description somewhere, as old as the Prodigal’s father.
Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete. – John 16:24
I’m asking, Lord. As you helped Charlie’s father, help me.