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Father’s prayer of dedication preceded shock of son’s death

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Losing a child can be one of the most difficult things a parent can do. For Bill and Ramona Pendle, their greatest fear became a reality when their son died.
Early one Saturday morning, Bill Pendle told God he could do anything in the lives of his three children to bring the Lord grace, honor and glory. In an instant, the phone rang. His 18-year-old son, Bryan, had been killed in a car accident. Bryan was a strong Christian who had been giving his testimony at church and at school.
“I frankly asked God, ‘Why didn’t you take some reprobate on drugs?'” Bill said. But he felt God tell him that he took him because Bryan was ready.
But it took a while for the Pendles, of Gainesville, Fla., to come to grips with what happened to their son. As they questioned God, deep down they knew it wasn’t going to bring Bryan back. Finally, they heard God tell them to stop asking so many questions.
“It’s like looking in the rearview mirror and trying to figure out what’s back there,” Ramona Pendle said. “God told us to look ahead.”
The Pendles learned a lot about how carelessly people say things when people are grieving. Six months after Bryan’s death, people from church came to Bill expecting him to move on with life.
“I had to simply understand that it’s easy for people to comment on things they haven’t walked through,” he said.
But through it all, the Pendles’ faith in Christ has led them to the firm conviction they will see Bryan again and their family will be reunited.
“Sometimes I’ll drive by the cemetery, and I’ll think of Bryan and something he and I did together,” Ramona said. “Then I’ll smile and think, ‘One of these days we’ll be with you, son.’”
For Ramona, it’s comforting to realize that God knows what it’s like to watch a child die. As she struggles with her grief, she remembers that God never forgot the pain his Son went through and neither will she.
“It’s been 17 years, and we’ve gone through half a box of tissues today to talk about this.” Ramona said. ” I don’t want to forget the pain, but I’m no longer a prisoner of it.”

The Pendles are among several people featured in an article on grief in the May issue of HomeLife, a Christian family magazine published by the Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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  • Tobin Perry