Not a day had passed in seven years that John Randall didn't grieve Meggie's loss. He loved all his daughters equally, but he loved Meggie differently. He alone had named her, called her into this world. The other girls' names were decided on the day they were born, but Meggie's had been determined not long after Susan discovered she was pregnant. As his wife groaned the other girls, she heard her husband say she's coming, she's coming. But when their third daughter spilled into his hands, John Randall proclaimed Meggie's here.
The doctor had said sensorineural hearing loss; it's probably permanent. Those same six words had been confirmed by second and third opinions. The cause was tagged viral, but John Randall had seen bewildered eyes in each of the consulted faces. He pressed the last one, a specialist, to finally generalize: Mr. Randall, I really don't know why this happened. After all the tests and surgeries, he had finally heard an honest voice. Meggie had lost her hearing for some reason, no one knew why.
He had prayed with the faith of a child for years: Please let Meggie hear again. Take mine if you need to. But he never heard any reply. This last year had been especially hard on his faith; he had grown cold toward God. It was not anger he felt, but abandonment. John Randall wondered if his family, especially Meggie, could feel his chill. He had agreed to participate in Advent solely to pull a little wool over the eyes of those who might have sensed a father's doubt. He told Rev. Paul as much and was surprised at his pastoral response: John, doubt is the ants in the pants of faith. I'm not asking you to believe; I just need you to read.