Then Solomon said, “Don’t kill the child! Give it to the first woman—she is its real mother.” [1 Kings 3:27 (GNT)]
Immediately after finishing yesterday’s devotion about conflict and prayer, I received a call from a friend whose 11-year old granddaughter, Anna, has osteosarcoma (bone cancer). Having undergone chemotherapy for the past two months, she is scheduled for surgery this week. In the best case scenario, her knee and part of her femur will be removed and replaced by a metal prostheses; the worst case scenario involves complete amputation of the leg. In either case, more chemo and at least six to twelve months of physical therapy will follow.
As distressed as this grandfather is by his grand’s cancer, he is even more upset by her parents’ behavior. Divorced several years ago, they decided upon an “every other week” type of joint custody. Although this often sounds like a win-win solution, court battles about custody issues have continued since the divorce. Rather than a good compromise, their custody agreement is more like an, “If I can’t have her all of the time, neither can you!” sort of thing. Their story reminds me of the two women claiming to be the mother of the same infant who came to King Solomon to settle their dispute. As the women argued, King Solomon called for his sword and ordered that the child be cut in half so that each one could have a part of him. “No!” screamed one mother who said to give him to the other woman so that he could live. “Go ahead,” said the other woman since that way neither mother would have the baby. Solomon immediately knew the identity of the real mother—the woman who was willing to give up her own flesh and blood so that he could live. Real parents are willing to sacrifice their happiness for the sake of their children, even if that means losing them. Now, with a seriously ill youngster, instead of putting aside their differences and forming a united wall of protection around their daughter, Anna’s parents brought their dispute not just into the court but also into the hospital. Because tempers flared and things got so contentious, only that week’s custodial parent can be with the girl in hospital.
Yesterday, I wrote about turning to Scripture and prayer as a way of handling disputes. In this case, although counselling and the courts haven’t worked, Scripture and prayer haven’t been tried. It is in God’s word and prayer that these parents would find true wisdom, strength and the directions to sacrifice, forgive, and love in the way that the mother in Solomon’s court did. I know both of Anna’s parents love her but they are unwilling to put aside their anger, resentment, and selfish desires for the sake of their child. Instead of being sliced in half by a sword, an eleven year old girl is being torn apart by two adults who are more interested in winning every dispute than they are in finding a way to live in peace and bring healing to their daughter. So invested in winning, they can’t see the real loser in their hateful war. Unfortunately, while their situation is extreme, Anna is not the only child of divorce being used as a pawn in her parents’ game of revenge.
Father in Heaven, forgive us when we look to our needs and desires instead of to you. Watch over and strengthen, not just Anna, but all children caught in the middle of their parents’ battles. May we all learn to call to you in prayer, turn to your word for wisdom, be willing to sacrifice our desires for the good of others, and continually act with forgiveness and love.