Often parents try to shield their children from every problem. As parents, we run ahead and remove every obstacle from their path—a difficult teacher, a challenging science project, a neighborhood bully—to provide an easy life for our children. This is a noble desire, but it paints an unrealistic picture of what life is really like. When Christ was about to leave this world, He made a frightening promise to his disciples: “In the world, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Christ did not hold back from this reality, and when it comes to our children, we should not either.
Two of our three children were born with Congenital Hyperinsulinism, a rare genetic disorder of the pancreas which causes blood sugar to constantly bottom out to dangerously low levels. Shortly after birth, they each received a 98% pancreatectomy, and they are now dependent on insulin to keep blood glucose stable. I suppose you could say they are “surgically-induced diabetics.” Needless to say, for most of our marriage, our home has been filled with many finger pricks and insulin shots, and we know something about pain and suffering.
Our house has also been filled with many questions: Why do I have to get shots and my brother doesn’t? Will I die from this? Why did God make me with diabetes? Such questions have forced us to broach theological concepts many Christian parents in America do not have to deal with. Such concepts include by are not limited to sin’s curse, God’s sovereignty, and God’s provision. Here are five principles to give some perspective when you face pain and suffering.
Most People throughout the History of Humanity Have Faced Hard Times
The situation of even the poorest children in modern-day America is better than children all around the world; modern conveniences such as running water and electricity are unknown to the vast majority of children who exist now and have existed for all of humanity’s time. The truth is, my children get to have insulin shots; they get to have surgery; they get to live with diabetes. 100 years ago, a child in America with their condition would have died a few days after birth. In His providence, God has seen fit that they live at this time and in this country. Their disease is a result of the fall in Eden, but their opportunities for a productive life is a blessing from God.
Perspective is important. Knowing of and sympathizing with the plight of others encourages us to be more thankful for our situation. But, such knowledge might also cause a child to question God’s love for those who have a more severe situation. That’s why this next topic is important.
God Is Not the Author of Your Problems—He Is the Answer
Ultimately, the existence of evil, pain, and suffering in this life goes back to man’s disobedience (Gen. 3:17). God is not responsible for the curse. Man is. God is the answer in the midst of our brokenness, and this answer is found ultimately in Jesus who became cursed to redeem those who are cursed (Gal. 3:13).
We often casually throw out the words “Lord and Savior,” but these should not just be empty words that we say at church. “Savior” is a vital name of Christ for dealing with the problem of evil. When we call him “Savior,” we acknowledge that he is the answer for our sin-cursed situation. When we look around at our own problems and the desperate situation of others we will either ask, “God, how could you let this happen?” or declare, “God you are the only hope for the world!” That is why we must allow Scripture to permeate our perspective, rather than the bad news this world has to offer. When we inundate our minds with negativity on social media and 24-hour news channels, it’s easy to lose focus on Christ as Savior, the answer for our problems.