Ring them bells Saint Martha for the poor man’s son
Ring them bells so the world will know that God is one
For the shepherd is asleep where the willows weep
And the mountains are filled with little lost sheep
Ring them bells for the blind and the deaf
Ring them bells for all of us who are left

– Bob Dylan

A sister in the ward stopped us after church on Sunday. Her uncle had 3rd degree burns on 50% of his body 40 years ago, and died months after his accident. She wept as she heard Max’s story.

While we were in the hospital, I met a man named Feike Van Dijk who had been burned on his right arm and face. He said that a fire had started in his house. He and his wife tried to put it out, but it quickly grew out of control. They started running through the house to vacate their 5 children. They got 2 out, then he got the baby out with serious burns. By then, the fire department had arrived. The fire was so advanced that house was collapsing. The fire chief wouldn’t let the parents back in the house, so the parents and 3 children stood outside and listened to their 2 young children cough their last breath inside.


I wept openly as I sat with Feike and put myself in the his shoes. Words were meaningless.

Maybe one of the purposes of suffering is to unite us.

If our experience with Max has taught us one thing, it is that we are all one great family.

I’m so thankful to a loving Father who honors us by letting us suffer.

I’m so grateful to a loving Brother who opens doors so that families can be together forever.

Please join me in loving the Van Dijks

3 thoughts on “Unite”

  1. First of all – I pray for your son daily. He is amazing!

    But there is no one that could prevent me from trying to rescue my children. NO ONE. I don’t know what this means – I’m so thankful to a loving Father who honors us by letting us suffer. This statement baffles me.

    1. Tara,
      Thank you for your prayers, and thank you for your thoughtful question.
      I hope you know that I, like you, will do anything in my power to prevent my children from suffering. I’ve also learned a great deal from this talk by Kevin J. Worthen:

      [To quote C.S. Lewis,] “The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach trivial meaning to the word ‘love.” Too often we confuse God’s love with human kindness. We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of the day, ‘a good time was had by all.’”

      But that is not God’s plan for us. He wants us to become like Him. He wants us to experience the fullness of joy He enjoys—eternal joy, not merely temporary contentedness. And He loves us enough that He will do whatever it takes for us to reach that goal, including allowing us to experience things that are difficult and soul-stretching. And He does it not because He doesn’t love us, but precisely because He does.

      But even when we have to learn things from our extremities in order to fulfill God’s plan for us, His love will be there to sustain us… especially when we need His love the most. …So let us not sell God’s love short by confusing it with mere human kindness. His love is much deeper than that. (Kevin J. Worthen, “It Was as If a Blanket of Love Was Flowing Over Me”, May 2, 2013, BYU Women’s Conference)

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