Having a child with a chronic health condition is challenging. It has changed the person I am and all of my perspectives. It has given me a huge amount of respect for every person and parent facing a chronic health condition – especially those parents with children who have down times that are actually life-threatening. I must preface this post with the recognition that my experience with suffering and grief is mild in comparison to many other families. My daughter’s condition does not threaten her life. Although it did once, at the very start – the first domino in our journey – now it is just a never ending ferris wheel of ups and downs. Feeling a spark of hope and having it come down just as fast. Although unlike a ferris wheel, it takes so much longer to get back up, than it does to spiral down. Before I had my fourth, I underestimated how a child’s chronic health condition affects the entire family. My other children know that there are things we cannot do when she is in a flare up. I have less time for them. The stress on both parents causes fights about tiny things. We are so tired from endless sleepless nights. So exhausted from feeling helpless. Personally, I struggle with anxiety around particular parts of her health and it takes so much effort to hand it to God rather than just let the panic engulf me.
Where is God in our dark times? When it feels like the most significant thing you will ever ask of Him is ignored… denied… or not even heard? When you cry out for healing or even temporary relief and it doesn’t come? When the God you know and love, doesn’t seem to come through on His promises. When the Scriptures that once gave you comfort, now seem empty? David had the same questions, in Psalms. In fact, the Psalms contain so many complaints and anger towards God.
Psalm 31:6-10 “Be kind to me, God – I’m in deep, deep trouble again. I’ve cried my eyes out; I feel hollow inside. My life leaks away, groan by groan; my years fade out in sighs. My troubles have worn me out, turned my bones to powder.”
Psalm 31:14-18 “Desperate, I throw myself on you: You are my God! Hour by hour I place my days in your hand, safe from the hands out to get me. Warm me, your servant, with a smile; save me because you love me. Don’t embarrass me by not showing up; I’ve given you plenty of notice.”
Psalm 31:23 “Love God, all you saints; God takes care of all who stay close to him, but He pays back in full those arrogant enough to go it alone. Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon.”
So where is God when we’re crying out in our pain? He is right there. He is with you, He is with me, He is with my baby girl. He is sitting with her. Never leaving her. Listening to our prayers, holding us and hearing our anger and pain. And we must rely on what we know is true – God’s character that we have experienced in other Spiritual seasons of our lives. Despite our feelings, to keep our faith that He is there and He is loving and He is good. We must stay in union with Him, just like Job. Job accused God of being unjust. He pleaded with Him and questioned why a good man like he, should suffer so painfully. God reminded Job that he only had a fraction of the picture and asked him to trust His character. Can I do that too?
Although God does heal at times, He has not promised us a life of deliverance from suffering. He has not promised us that He will take the pain from our children in this world because we have chosen this world of sin. But He does ask us to remain in Him, so that at the end of our earthly lives, He can give us that relief. And in the meantime, He also tells us that all the bad in our lives, He can use for good. He can use it to shape us, if we allow Him. If we keep Him close. The suffering, although we would rather stay as we are and be relieved of the pain, can refine us. But there is some personal responsibility here – we are not just automatically better people if we go through a fire. We need to choose how we respond. We need to decide if the pain is going to make us worse as a person…or better. What will we turn to? Anger? Resentment? Destructive behaviour? Finding intimacy in earthly things and people, rather than God himself?
We need to keep talking to Him. Be angry with Him. Share your heart. Cry, scream, break down. Being angry doesn’t mean you don’t trust Him. Being heart broken doesn’t mean you have deserted your faith. Suffering in the world is not a sufficient reason for the argument against His existence. Nowhere does the Bible say that we can see easy lives as a sign of His presence. He says that through it all, we need to stay close and his goodness and unfailing love will pursue us all the days of our lives (Psalm 23:6)
So, when the dark times hit, let us remember to stay in honest, open communication with Father God. He is our Shepherd and His goodness will follow us even if we can’t feel it.
PS: Please download the free printables as a reminder of His goodness in those hard times. You will see below, two free printables relating to this post – choose the design you like (or take both!), click on it and the file will open in a new tab. Then just save the image to keep or to print!