Stories of American Heroes - Brought to you from the "Home of Heroes" - Pueblo, Colorado
God is Good
"God, NO!" I cried in anguish. As I struggled to drive home, my vision blurred by tears, I couldn't help repeatedly asking, "God, WHY?"
Then bitterness crept in. "God is good," Jaime had written just 13 days before his death. Somehow it was hard to accept that fact now. How could a good God allow something like this to happen? Of all the people, why Jaime?
Throughout the sleepless night the question arose again and again, "God, why?" And then guilt again, and anger at being home. "What if I had been there? Could my being with Jaime in that moment of danger changed the outcome somehow?" I'd lost many friends in Vietnam, but somehow this struck a nerve that wouldn't heal. Of all the people, why Jaime? It just didn't seem fair. Where was God?
A couple weeks later a letter arrived from the executive officer of the Ranger detachment detailing for me how Jaime had died. Jaime had been covering the rear of a recon element that walked into an enemy bunker complex. As the firefight ensued Jaime realized the danger that threatened the three men ahead of him. Leaving his more secure area at the rear of the team he rushed forward firing his weapon and throwing more than a dozen grenades, permitting his comrades to safely withdraw. Then, as the team pulled back, a round from a malfunctioning helicopter minigun struck him and took his life.
For his heroic actions that day, Jaime was awarded the Silver Star Medal. But the point that stood out far above his heroic actions was the love for his comrades that compelled him to risk his life that they might live. It was so characteristic of the Jesus Jaime loved so much Who once said, "Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Of Jaime Pacheco, the Ranger executive officer wrote: "I can honestly say that he is one of the few in this world who had no enemies." Still I couldn't help wondering, and questioning God.
The following Sunday I attended church with a mixture of anger and puzzlement in God's failure to protect my friend. The choir stood to sing, and the song was Jaime's favorite, "Jesus, There's Just Something About that name". Again I could not restrain the tears.
Then came the letter from Jaime's wife, a letter filled with both sorrow and faith. "Yes, 'God is Good'," she wrote. "It is my wish and prayer that the 'Good God' continue helping me face my future with a smile, a smile at God in loving acceptance of whatever He sends into my life now, so that I may merit to have the radiant, smiling face of Christ gaze on me for all eternity."
Still I wept long and bitter tears. For two months I mourned and questioned, wondered and wept. Few had been my acquaintances that had been allowed to become so close, and despite my puzzlement at how God could have allowed Jaime to die, I knew deep inside that the bond that had grown between us had been nurtured by God for some unknown reason in His master plan.
I picked up Jaime's last letter to me and read it as I had so many times in the previous weeks. It was so bright and characteristic of Jaime's simple faith, and as I read I could almost picture the light in Jaime's eyes and the smile that was so uniquely characteristic of him. I read it again, "Yes, that is the way to be Doug, God IS Good." I found that statement a little hard to accept now that Jaime was gone. At the letter's end he had written, "Amigo, Asta Luego," and I remembered that warm night in Vietnam just scant months earlier when we had parted and Jaime had vanished into the darkness with those words.
And then, finally, his closing signature, "In CHRIST Your Brother...." but wait, there was something sandwiched between the words in CAPITAL letters, something I had never noticed before. Yes, this letter written just 13 days before Jaime Pacheco would sacrifice his life for his friends, was closed "In CHRIST,FOR ETERNITY, Your Brother, Jaime Pacheco."
For the first time a warm glow filled my heart and a smile came to my face in the sweet, powerful realization of what Jaime had told me in that final goodbye. Somehow he sensed he was not going to be coming home, that he would die in Vietnam. He also knew he was prepared for that moment. It wasn't really goodbye after all. "In CHRIST, FOR ETERNITY, Your Brother...."
"Yes my brother," I said aloud to myself,"GOD IS GOOD".
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