And why, in the name of a gracious God, such things should be?


In the early months of 1858, Charles Dickens became president of the Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital Appeal. Never one to turn down an opportunity to mix his love of performing his works with the promotion of charitable causes, he used his reading of A Christmas Carol to highlight the work of the hospital. Before his reading, Dickens gave a speech that described an incident that he witnessed during one of his frequent walks around the city of London at night. It is a speech that continues to capture my heart with its powerful closing statement.


… There lay, in an old egg-box, which the mother had begged from a shop, a feeble, wasted, wan, sick child. With his little wasted face, and his little hot worn hands folded over his breast, and his little bright attentive eyes, I can see him now, as I have seen him for several years, looking steadily at us. There he lay in his little frail box, which was not at all a bad emblem of the little body from which he was slowly parting - there he lay quite quiet, quite patient, saying never a word. He seldom cried, the mother said, he seldom complained. He lay there, seeming to wonder what it was all about. God knows, I thought, as I stood looking at him, he had his reasons for wondering - and why, in the name of a gracious God, such things should be.