By Brenda W. McIntyre –
Some days I wake up in the late morning hours feeling like my name should be changed to Israel. Those are the times I’ve spent sleepless nights wrestling with God. Not physically wrestling with Him as Jacob did in Genesis 32 when his name became Israel, but fighting an emotional battle.As an alienated parent of two precious children—my own flesh and blood—I struggle to understand God’s purpose in my pain. I have suffered through eight months of having no contact with either of my children, followed by another year of silence from my daughter. In spite of Judge’s orders, I still do not always get visitation with my son.
I’ve prayed for the situation to change. I’ve begged God to allow the change. I’ve demanded He show me a purpose in the destruction of innocent lives. I’ve shouted at God. I’ve cried until I can hardly breathe. I’ve battled through many nights until daybreak. Sometimes I feel like the pain is too much to bear – until I remember Veronica’s smile.
Veronica has suffered through a parent’s worst nightmare since her beautiful little girl was kidnapped. For over eleven years she has lived in agony, not knowing where her daughter is, not knowing what happened to Shy’kemmia on September 4, 1998.
That Fall Friday evening started out normal. Eight-year-old Shy’kemmia Shy’Rezz Pate, a third-grader at Unadilla Elementary School, was playing outside of her home in the small rural town of Unadilla, Georgia. She was waiting to go to the high school football game in nearby Vienna with her family. Shy’kemmia’s sister drove down to the store to fill her car with gas. When she returned to pick up her baby sister, Shy-Shy was gone. There was no sign of the little girl who, just moments earlier, was walking down the sidewalk and waved to her older sister. The youngster, wearing a neon green button-down Atlanta Braves jersey with red lettering, Levi’s jeans, and white K-Swiss sneakers was no where to be found.
Law enforcement officials from the Dooly County Sheriff’s Department, the Vienna Police Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation launched a massive manhunt. Nearly every square mile of Dooly County was searched. Officials conducted air searches, foot searches and canvassed the small town door-to-door, but nothing turned up. There was no sign of the child. Authorities believe that Shy’kemmia may have been abducted by someone she was familiar with, yet the case remains unsolved, her whereabouts a mystery.
I cannot begin to imagine the horror of having a child vanish, or the heartache of living a life in limbo with no closure. When I see Veronica smile it gives me reassurance that God is in control. He has allowed her to find moments of happiness amid the grief.
God understands our suffering. His own son died on the cross to atone for our sins, so He knows our pain. Matthew 5:4 states, “God blesses those who mourn for they will be comforted.” We can also rejoice knowing the day will come when we are reunited with our children forever. At that time He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Revelation 21:4).