Faith is an important asset for those who mourn, and yet for some it is not enough. At a bereavement conference, a father described the loss of his son and admitted that he had lost his faith and did not believe in God. In the gospels, Jesus states that a person must have faith comparable to that of a child to enter the kingdom of heaven.

What does that mean? I wanted to explore this question in a poem, and my first thought was that such a faith should be simple yet profound – seeing God in everything and seeing everything as a manifestation of God. So the poem began with a line that has this meaning when you read it forward and backward, or, as in the case of this poem, up and down. That first line became the framework for building a sturdy box of a poem about faith. Here is “A Child’s Faith:”

God is All in All,

is for my best in

All His tests; man, All

in good time, blest is.

All in All is God.

This faith recognizes that God is responsible for adversity (“His tests”), yet believes that God wants you to succeed (“is for my best”) and that God loves each of us (eventually all are “blest”). This is a faith that is impervious to the battering of doubts, a faith resilient enough to weather the storms of life and powerful enough to open the gates of Heaven.

Kent Koppelman

Adapted from Wrestling with the Angel

Baywood Publishing, Inc.


Kent Koppelman

Kent Koppelman earned a Bachelor’s degree in English Education and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Nebraska and he taught high school English and social studies in Nebraska, Connecticut, and Iowa before enrolling in a PhD at Iowa State University in Ames. After graduation, he accepted a position at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where for 28 years he taught undergraduate and graduate courses in foundations, diversity issues, ethics, and multicultural education. Throughout his career Dr. Koppelman has published essays in various journals and given presentations at state, national, and international conferences. Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction selected him as the “Teacher Educator of the Year” in 1988, but the following year was marred by a family tragedy when his son, Jason, was killed in a car accident. His experience with loss and grief was the subject of his first book entitled The Fall of a Sparrow: Of Death and Dreams and Healing (1994, Baywood Publishing Company). Dr. Koppelman’s second book, Values in the Key of Life: Making Harmony in the Human Community (2001, Baywood Publishing Company), consisted of essays about the need to choose between conflicting values and the implications of those choices in everyday life. His third book was a textbook for college courses on diversity entitled Understanding Human Differences: Multicultural Education for a Diverse America (2005, 2008, 2011) published by Allyn and Bacon. Dr. Koppelman retired in May of 2007, and the following fall, the College of Human Sciences at Iowa State University presented him with the Virgil S. Lagomarcino Laureate Award to honor his “distinguished achievement in the field of education.” Since his retirement, Dr. Koppelman has compiled and edited an anthology on diversity issues for Allyn & Bacon entitled Perspectives on Human Differences: Selected Readings on Diversity in America (2010), and he finished another book on his grief experiences including essays, fiction, and poetry entitled Wrestling with the Angel: Literary Writings and Reflections on Death, Dying and Bereavement (2010, Baywood Publishing Company). Dr. Koppelman is currently working on a book for Teachers College Press tilted The Great Diversity Debate: Embracing Pluralism in School and Society that will be published in the spring of 2011. Dr. Koppelman and his wife Jan have been married for over 40 years, and their daughter, Tess, is a broadcast journalist in Kansas City.

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