Abigail L. 14. The second of five precious children, song of her father’s heart, light of her mother’s soul. No longer a child, not yet a woman, Abigail—compassionate, caring, committed, a friend of friends. Every time a new girl came into her class whom no one would accept, Abigail made the unwanted girl wanted in her group.
It was March 4, 2003, in Haifa, Israel, and school was over. Two 33 buses came at the same time, the first crowded, the second empty. Most of Abigail’s friends got on the empty bus, but she squeezed onto the crowded one. No one knows why. Perhaps she had a new friend on that bus. Or perhaps she just wanted to get home quickly. Anyway she was on that first bus, the crowded one, as it moved up the hill on Moriah Street. Abigail was going home. Going … Home.
Phil and Heidi, her father and mother, were home writing a prayer letter to their friends in America who stand with them as they serve Yeshua (Jesus) in Israel. They had been there for 14 years, ever since Abigail was one month old. Phil and Heidi had met at MIT where they both were undergraduate students, he in mechanical engineering and she in architecture. While studying they had fallen in love with one another and determined they were called to go somewhere in the world with the Love that had drawn them together, the Love that gave them the Life they wanted to take to others. That place turned out to be Israel, and they came to God’s chosen people with a lifetime commitment to identify with them and serve them. Each of their children has an Israeli name, each studies in Hebrew, and each loves their adopted nation. Theirs is a radical commitment, far more radical than even they realized.
The phone rang while Phil and Heidi were working on their prayer letter. A friend called to tell them there was a suicide bombing on a 33 bus and asked if their children were safe. “They’re all fine,” Heidi said, and then she thought of Abigail who wasn’t yet home. But she was sure Abigail was fine. They turned on the TV to watch the news and, when Abigail didn’t come home after a little while, they started calling her friends. No, she wasn’t with any of them. No one knew where she was. With mounting concern, they called hospitals, but there was no Abigail. The authorities had no information, so all they could do was wait and hope and pray for the next few hours. Then the authorities called to say there were some unidentified people from the bombing and asked them to come to see if Abigail was one of them. That was when they found out Abigail was … Home.
What do you do now? Abigail, 14, song of her father’s heart, light of her mother’s soul, a friend of friends, no longer a child, never to be a woman. Gone.
Do you scream or curse the Darkness or lash out at God or just die in despair? What do you do? What can you do? You came to give your life to Israel, not to give your daughter’s life for Israel. That wasn’t the deal you made with God. Where was God on that 33 bus? Why hadn’t God protected their precious Abigail? Why? Why? WHY? They had given up family. They had given up culture. They had given up all that an education at MIT offered them. And what had they gotten in return? Abigail—gone.
Who can answer these questions? Who?
None of the cheap platitudes mean anything. Things like God needed her more than you or God will use it for greater good or God will use you more than ever mean nothing with Abigail gone. It is better for it not to make sense, for it to be random evil, than to try to force some sense out of it, to seek some comfort that can never comfort.
What can you do? Only one thing. Trust. Trust the Father who gave His Son for you; trust the Son who gave His life for you; trust the Spirit who makes the Father and Son real in you. That’s all you can do. And lie awake at night and pray and call out for the strength to keep on trusting, to honor Abigail, to raise your other four children, and maybe someday to find meaning in such a senseless act of terrorism. You can’t quit because then Darkness would defeat Light, Terror would win over Truth.
You have one hope. Someday you will be … Home with Abigail. You will see her again, see her as the eternal woman she has become, and revel in your love for her for all eternity.
Phil and Heidi keep on. They love Israelis and they seek to reach them with the Gospel of Yeshua, the Name above all names. During the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war Heidi drove an ambulance to help those who were hurt when rockets fell on Haifa. Today their oldest son is in the Israeli Defense Force, the first Israeli soldier sworn in on a Hebrew Old and New Testament. Their third child, a daughter, looks forward to her time when she, too, will join the army and serve her adopted country. For them Israel is home.
But what of Abigail? Caring, compassionate, committed, 14, always 14, no longer a child, never a woman, what of her? The song of her father’s heart has a minor note now, a muted melody that ends in a disharmonious clash. The light of her mother’s soul still burns brightly, but as a memory and a hope, not as the ever expanding glow of life and love Heidi expected. Abigail, as you know, is… Home.
But what can we learn from this family and their response to such an irrational and irreversible loss?
Just this. The Abigail-like losses of life bring us to the greatest choice we ever face: dissonance or resonance with God. In these meaningless moments, moments that defy human explanation, we choose either to enter into disharmony or harmony with God. Abigail-like losses—times of irreplaceable loss—bring us into a darkness we can never fathom, an almost physical force we must fight against all of our lives. The Light is there, but we must choose to turn and see Him. There is never a day that goes by that they don’t think about Abigail, hardly a week that passes that someone doesn’t mention her name at the dinner table. How could this not be? There are fourteen years of family memories with Abigail right at the heart of it all.
Think about the most painful losses in your life. How are you responding to them? Do you try to hide from them, pasting a smile over a gaping unhealed wound? That’s dissonance with God. Are you angry, focused on the hurt and injustice of your loss? That’s dissonance with God. Do you struggle at times, feeling anger toward God, wanting to run away and hide or defy God in the unfairness of life, but then choose to turn to the Light and find His comforting arms in the midst of your struggle? That’s resonance with God.
Dissonance or resonance—a choice we are always making. Especially in the Abigail-like losses of life.
Abigail is … home. Where are you?