Difficult Decisions

Americans watched in horror a couple of weeks ago the video of a small child who fell into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo. “Harambe” was confused by the intruder in his environment, and it is debatable whether or not the powerful animal acted aggressively toward the child. Zoo officials were faced with the the immediate decision about how to rescue the young boy before he was seriously harmed or killed. It was decided that the only way to safely remove the boy from the exhibit was to kill the western lowland gorilla, because tranquilizers would likely agitate him before they could take effect. It was a difficult decision indeed, but I believe it was the right decision. While zoo officials have been criticized for their decision to kill the endangered animal, you cannot put a price on a human life. Fortunately, the boy only sustained minimal injury and he is now home with his parents. Recently, the boy's family said he "is still doing well." The family said they continue to "praise God" and also are thankful to the zoo "for their actions taken to protect our child."

 I am reminded of the following old story where a drawbridge operator was faced with a difficult decision. There once was a man who worked in a small town as the operator of a drawbridge on a river. A train track ran across the bridge, and the operator’s job was to keep the bridge up when no train was coming so that the boats could pass underneath. When a train approached, he was to blow the whistle and let down the bridge. One sunny Saturday morning, the man brought his seven-year-old son along to work with him. The boy could frolic along the river, skip rocks on the water, chase butterflies, or even try to catch a fish. Shortly before noon, a passenger train was due to come through the area. The man began to make preparations to let the bridge down so the train could pass safely across the river. As he examined the bridge, he noticed that someone—a small child—had somehow climbed over the guardrail next to the bridge, and was playing at the very spot where the bridge would come down. As he looked closer, he realized with horror that the child was his son. In desperation, he yelled out his son’s name, but the sound of the approaching train drowned out his screams. He knew he had to make a quick decision. If he lowered the bridge now his son would die. But if he didn’t, all the people on the train would die as the train plunged into the river. He barely had time to think. As he screamed in agony, the man thrust forward the lever to lower the bridge just as the train arrived. His son died instantly. And as the train passed by, the people just smiled and waved as they passed by the man in the control booth, with his head bowed low, oblivious to what had just taken place. (Adapted with permission from “To Sacrifice a Son” by Dennis Hensley.)

    God made the difficult decision to sacrifice his son for all of humanity. It wasn’t easy, but he would have done it even for one of us.