“When my child suffers, how do I keep my faith and still love my god?” – A question from my friend, Stu Grater.
My initial general answer to this question is, perspective.
I personally have suffered pain. Physical, mental, emotional, spiritual pain. I expect I will continue to suffer pain in the future. “Life is pain”, said the Dread Pirate Roberts. To some extent, I believe he is correct. I believe that one of the many facets of life is to learn how to suffer, or to learn from our suffering.
Experiencing personal suffering is different than witnessing the suffering of others, especially little children. When my children are sick and I have done all that I can for them and yet they still are suffering from pain and discomfort, it can be very frustrating to me.
“How could God let children suffer?”
I cannot speak for anyone else, but the conclusion I have come to thus far is, “How could He NOT let them suffer?”
Recently my youngest child was in quite a bit of pain and discomfort as he suffered through a fever of 106. It was hard to watch. However, my understanding of science gave me the knowledge and perspective that his fever was serving a purpose. His body was obviously fighting something off.
From my own personal perspective, suffering is a necessary part of life. Suffering, like most things, is neither good nor bad. Something is only bad or good when I label it as such. Perspective.
Is pain enjoyable? Most pain that I have experienced has not been all that enjoyable. Perspective.
Is pain bearable? That really depends on the individual. How bearable pain is for me usually depends on how intense the pain is and how long I have been enduring it. Perspective.
Should children, or anyone, really be required to suffer pain? I do not think that anyone is required to suffer pain. From my perspective, we all understood that coming to this planet and putting on these mortal bodies would entail suffering pain. If we are here, that means that we chose to accept the challenges that we knew we would face here.
Is pain and suffering a punishment from God? Doubtful. From my own perspective, God does not punish us. We punish ourselves. What about little children born with painful illnesses, disabilities, or deformations? What did they ever do wrong that they should have to suffer like that? Again, who says that suffering is wrong? Who says the suffering is for the children? My perspective tells me that the suffering of children is often for the benefit of those around them. A suffering child can bring people together in ways that could otherwise not be accomplished.
When my child suffers, my faith does not. Instead, the suffering of my children often humbles me and turns my heart TO God.
When my child suffers, my love of God does not. Instead, my frustration at not being able to do anything for my child reminds me of the power of God. He give me and my children suffering, weaknesses, and challenges to help build me up and make me stronger.
When my children were first learning to walk, they would fall down a lot. Did I think that they were suffering? Or did I understand that the pain of falling down would only be a failure if I did not allow them to suffer that pain and encourage them to get back up. They kept getting back up and in doing so it made them stronger. Now they can walk and run without falling down.
What about a child born with a disease that will never allow him to walk? I will let me good friend Nick Vujicic answer that one. He is truly an amazing example of how faith and love for God can increase through suffering.
In fact, some of the most inspiring and life changing stories that I have ever heard and felt have come from those people who were born with incredibly painful challenges.
I thank God for my suffer and the suffering of others. My suffering makes me stronger. The suffering of others humbles me and gives me an opportunity to serve them.
How would you answer the question that Stu asked?