Andy and Mindy were young inexperienced parents. Tragically, without understanding the possible trauma it could cause, Andy shook his crying baby. The baby later started to show serious problems, so they took their baby to the hospital. Unfortunately, the child eventually died from “shaken baby syndrome.” The parents cried. The doctor reported the unintentional abuse to the authorities and the police came to arrest the father.
The child’s death was truly tragic, but I was also troubled by the way these young parents were treated by some of the hospital’s staff. Sadly, the staff seemed to ignore and avoid the parents. They did nothing to provide support for the parents in any way. It was as if they were asking: shouldn’t the mother and father have known better? How could such a terrible thing happen?
As the pediatric chaplain, I met with the father and mother before the police arrived. I extended to them the comfort of Jesus’ saving love and promises. In the midst of this tragedy, Jesus was still their Savior. He died upon the cross for all our failings. With tears in his eyes, the father asked me what he should do. We set up a Bible reading plan to keep him in the comfort and guidance of the Savior during his jail time. On the cross, Jesus had done the humanly impossible hard work of providing them with forgiveness. In faith, these parents would now embark on the hard work of forgiving one another and living in the peace of Jesus.
The journey ahead of them would not be easy. I recommended a church to the mother where she could turn for support from the pastor and congregation while her husband was in jail, and together, we prayed for the Lord’s comfort and strength.
“Like newborn babies, crave the pure milk of the word so that by it you may grow up with the result being salvation. Certainly, you have tasted that the Lord is good!” (1 Peter 2:2-3)
Chaplain Kenneth Wenzel