by Jennifer Coe
There is no worse feeling than when a doctor tells you that your baby is sick, or that your child has a disease or that your son has a profound allergy. I know because that is exactly what has happened to our family this year. Our son, in a matter of 6 months, spent two nights in the hospital with Pneumonia, was treated for Lyme disease and was diagnosed with an allergy to peanuts. I don’t share this to get a vote of sympathy (although all prayers are encouraged!), I share this because I have heard your own stories of your children. It has struck me that something like this is one of the biggest challenges we’ll ever face in our faith in God. The way I have handled this is to think about it (for a little too long probably) and then to write this article for myself as well as others.
Let’s be real: it hurts
It hurts to see your child suffer. Andy has been a great patient when things come up, but the shots, pricks, pinches, tubes, lights, beeps, and medicines wear on both you and your little patient after a while. You think, “Why does he have to suffer?” “Why does he have to experience this pain?” For me, because I was sick a lot as a child and a regular in the doctors’ office, I think about how I had wanted Andy’s life to be different, for him not to have any chronic problems like I did. It hurts to see your child go through something that you have no control over, no matter how old they are. I think we had all hoped to protect them from any pain as long as we could.
That makes me think of God of course and the sadness he must have felt seeing his Son suffer. It is true that God can relate to everything we experience, isn’t it? Our emotions tell us that God doesn’t understand, we think how could he do this to our child?, We think thoughts like: Is he just doing this for fun? After thinking about how he allowed his Son to suffer first then die for us (Suffer! It wasn’t quick and painless!), I know better. I know, he must be with every hurting parent. Every parent paying those hospital bills, every parent holding their child’s hand as they get shot after shot. He is with you. Your emotions tell you that you are alone, but the scriptures say you are not.
[ Never Walk Away ] Dear friend, guard Clear Thinking and Common Sense with your life; don’t for a minute lose sight of them. They’ll keep your soul alive and well, they’ll keep you fit and attractive. You’ll travel safely, you’ll neither tire nor trip. You’ll take afternoon naps without a worry, you’ll enjoy a good night’s sleep. No need to panic over alarms or surprises, or predictions that doomsday’s just around the corner, Because God will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound.
This Child Was Given to You
Do you remember when your child was born? Do you remember thanking God for him/her? I do in fact, today is my son’s birthday he is two. I remember two years ago, how small he was, how he sounded. I remember getting no sleep the first night and really not caring. I was so happy that he was finally here.
As Andy has grown, my husband and I decided that it was very important to us to teach him love and compassion, kindness and gratitude. It’s not always easy as toddlers believe that everything belongs to them; sharing is difficult and so is obeying mommy and daddy. But we look at it like this: we love him, and we take him as a full package. Whatever challenges we face as we attempt to shape his character to be more like Jesus’, we will face them and we’ll accept him with whatever struggle he has; even if some things take longer to take hold in his life than others. I see now that these physical challenges are the same. You take the baby you get. We accept all issues as part of who he is. We accept them as part of parenting this child named Andrew. Maybe the next child won’t have these issues, but our firstborn does and so we take it and look to God for the patience and faith to continue onwards. For you it could be a painfully shy child, for another parent it could be an explosive child, for another parent it could be a child with a lifelong disease you get my meaning.
Do you find yourself resisting your child’s problems in your heart? Saying to yourself “It’s not fair?” I have found that when I stay in this frame of mind, it steals away my faith in God and it slowly erodes my strength to handle ongoing challenges. I end up in a whirlwind of sadness and weakness. One problem piles up on top of another and I get frozen emotionally and spiritually.
It feels good when I surrender my child to God and to say “We are grateful for the child you gave us, bumps and all. Lord give us the wisdom to handle the bumps!” We are grateful for our little Andrew even if it turns out he has more allergies. He is only two so we expect that we have a few more bumps to go! I feel kind of honored that God is trusting us with him actually. God knew in advance the child you needed, the child I need.
1 Peter 5:8-9 (The Message) Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christeternal and glorious plans they are!will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.
Draw Your Strength From God
When Andrew was born, I had no idea what struggles I would face as a parent. This year, I commented to my mother that I felt like I was really “doing it” I was really being a parent. She asked what I meant, and I explained that I felt like I was beginning to handle the big stuff so to speak. Is he watching too much tv, does he have a dirty diaper, etc. anymore. The real stuff comes quickly more quickly than I think any of us expect. When God puts you in charge of another life there’s a lot to think about, and fast. It is overwhelming.
The scriptures of comfort or the most priceless to me. The scriptures that remind me that God is on my side and that I am not handling this alone. The older Andy gets, the more I am going to need to trust God. What happens when I send him off to school, when he starts playing sports, when he gets his drivers’ license? I think it’s pretty foolish of me to think that I can handle all this alone when I was designed to depend on our Creator. I was made to place my faith and trust in him. Trying to do it without him is like trying to run your car without oil. It’s ultimately going to break down.
Psalm 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.
Psalm 40:1-? I waited patiently for the Lord, he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, and out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on rock” Philippians 4:12-13 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength. 1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
As we go along in life our children are going to have challenges that we will wish we could bear for them. God has a plan for each life, even your smallest children are in God’s care. We can so easily doubt His plan for our own lives let us call on faith to trust in God for both our own and our children’s futures. To allow “life” and all it’s struggles to draw us closer to him and not farther from him.
Jennifer Coe is a Stay at Home mom with a Master’s in School Counseiling. Staying at home is full of drama one day and a comedy of errors the next! Jennifer has been married 10 years and has two children under the age of three.