Tuesday, May 04, 2010

How Do You Feel When Your Kids Are Sick and Hurting?

Our children have been sick a number of times lately. While they have a hard time sharing their toys with each other, they trip over themselves to share the latest stomach virus or cold. They also like to be liberal in their generosity towards us.

We have watched two children try to get well in the hospital. Knox, our middle child, spent his first week in a hospital being poked and prodded and tested. Why? He would stop breathing while he was asleep. Emma has been in the hospital numerous times with what has now been diagnosed as Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome. Here is what would happen; inevitably around the time of every exciting event in her life (birthday, Christmas, etc.) she would get worked up - anxious - and it would cause her to begin vomiting again and again and again. This would continue until she would have to be hospitalized for dehydration. More poking and prodding and testing. Imagine renting an inflatable for your daughter's birthday because other birthdays have gone badly because of her getting sick, only to send it back because she is in the emergency room. Again.

As a parent, it is painful to watch. Actually that last statement is an understatement. It is horrifying. You hate watching your children hurt. You would do anything to make it stop. You find yourself pouring out love on them and sparing no expense to see them smile. You will even weep tears of joy when you see them improve. You care nothing about getting sick yourself so you kiss their heads and hold them and find what used to turn your stomach is now something you find yourself glad to do. Why? Because you delight to pour out your affectionate love on them.

Yesterday, our son, Knox got sick. My wife and I sat and talked last night about how painful it is to watch him hurt and just not look well. I thought about it and I told her, "I suppose we are seeing a glimpse of a loving Heavenly Father." I mean, he certainly loves us more than I could ever hope to love my children. Even my hope for my children to be well has in it also the desire for me to be inconvenienced no longer. God's love when we are hurting is far more tender than my love for my children. But for some reason, this is hard to believe. Let's face it, for some reason or another, we find it hard to believe that God is always pouring out affection upon us who are his. Our first reaction when we get sick or hurt is that this must be judgment, is it not?

"What have I done to deserve this?!"

And so, we beat ourselves up and wonder what we have done to make God stand aloof. Oh, we are prone to look at our sickness and remind ourselves of how sinful we are. We want to remind ourselves we are worms. And so, we think it makes the most sense in the world that God would throw lightning bolts of fever and disease in our direction. This is foolish.

The week we moved to Wichita was insanely crazy as all moves are. Emma got sick just 2 days after we moved in. That night I was up with her. She had been asleep. She woke up. She got sick. And afterwards she sleepily - with concern on her face - asked me if I was upset with her. My face full of concern must have looked like the face of one who was mad. Aghast, "Of course not!" I told her. And I reassured her with loving kisses. She was then told how painful it is for her Daddy to watch her hurt and that is why it looked like I was frowning.

How deep the Father's love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That he would give his only Son
To make a wretch his treasure

Yes, we are shot through with a depth of rebellion and sin, we cannot even imagine. But the good news is when we hurt the most, those who are his can be certain of his never-ending love and affection for us. God is not standing aloof waiting for the pain to go away and for us to learn our lesson. He is, with wild abandon, running towards us with grace and mercy and love and tenderness. Sure, every sickness can be helpful reminder of our sinfulness. But do not leave off the sermon of God's gracious love for sinners who hurt under the weight of it all.

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