Healing for Moms
Encouragement for Moms of Little Patients
This book is written in a 30 Day devotional format. Each day contains memories of the fight, the loss and the encouragement of Scripture by a mom who still misses her nine-year-old son.
Scripture quoted from the English Standard Version
One of the things you lose when your child has cancer is time. There is no time for shopping trips, no time to cook meals, no time to play with your other kids. Cancer treatment demands all your energy, all your time. That is why this book is relatively short. The daily devotion is not meant to take more than 5 minutes of your time. And while I want you to know a basic history of our battle against cancer, even this introduction is condensed. Please take just a minute to read about Tristan’s battle.
Tristan is my third child. He had just turned eight-years-old when he started getting intense headaches. We took him to get checked out and an X-Ray showed a mass in his brain. We were sent to Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital in Spokane, Washington. After a few days of steroids to bring the swelling down in his brain, the surgeon resected the entire tumor. The tumor was sent to Johns Hopkins and confirmed to be Medulloblastoma. Though the tumor was gone, there were cancer cells floating in his cerebral spinal fluid so chemotherapy and radiation were ordered.
It turns out Tristan’s cancer was on the aggressive end of the spectrum. The chemo made him sick, lowered his white blood cell counts and caused the need for transfusions. The radiation stole his hair and burned his skin and instilled terror every time he was screwed down on the table by the mesh mask that had been molded of his face. There were also many Emergency Room visits due to his vulnerability to illness. I kept a to-go bag packed for Tristan, myself, my husband and Presley (baby number six), who was six-months-old and nursing when all this started.
Two months before his ninth birthday, Tristan finished the last of his chemotherapy and was declared cancer free. What praise I had for my God, and what freedom I felt! He had changed, a little. He was weak, we had to go backwards in school some, but that was to be expected. When Tristan started complaining about his back we let it go for a couple of weeks thinking he was probably just straining himself. Due to the rapid increase in pain, we went to the ER rather than waiting for his doctor appointment. After a couple of hours, we were told that the cancer had returned and had “sugar-coated” his spine.
To our eternal heartbreak, we soon learned that they had already done all they could to combat this type of cancer. Tristan only had six difficult months left on this earth.
The morning of November 7, 2008, we took Tristan back to the oncology unit for uncontrollable pain. After a long day of trying to make him comfortable, and finally just knocking him out, his oxygen saturation levels started dropping. We tried waking him up once, to determine if his labored breathing was being caused by a certain drug. When we did, he struggled to say, “I can’t breathe,” and I insisted they knock him back out immediately while his dad held him upright to help him get some air in his lungs. We knew then it was the end of the battle; those had been his final words. His lungs were filling with fluid and he wouldn’t make it until morning. He went home to his Lord just before midnight.
Tristan’s battle had come to an end, but mine continues to this day. The time has come, however, for me to be brave and be an encouragement to other moms engaged in this type of warfare. I pray God’s Word and my reflections give you strength to endure for all your children.
I Am Not Exceptional
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. …
So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Peter 4:12-14,19
We often think our suffering is unique to us. “My situation is different- it’s worse.” How do you know that? You say Cancer is not the kind of trial Peter is speaking of? I refer you to Job. He didn’t have the behind-the-scenes commentary we are privy to. Look at his sufferings. I argue they were the kind of trial Peter refers to, and odds are it was “worse” than yours.
Four of my ten kids have spent time in a PICU due to injury or illness. My fourth child spent 7 months there before coming home on a ventilator. I could mope about and despair that my trials are too much for me… It’s not fair… If I have to face a trial why can’t I be persecuted for Christ so at least I can earn a reward? Well, my answer to myself would be: It is too much for you (The Lord gives us more than we can handle so we have to lean on Him), it is not fair (It is a consequence of the curse as recorded in Genesis) and, about being persecuted for Christ, again- see Job. His trials- though financial, health, and death in nature- were a test right out of 1 Peter.
What a marvelous witness to unbelieving friends and family to bear such a burden as a sick child with trust that no matter the outcome, your baby is in the Lord’s hands. Praise God for the healing that comes. Praise Him more when it doesn’t. Praise Him because you have nowhere else to go and nothing in yourself to help. Praise Him because He has all the answers and you have none. Praise Him because He is Sovereign, even when it hurts. Praise Him because not one moment of your suffering will be wasted when you are in His will.
It’s hard. It’s so hard to deal with your own emotions, your sick child’s emotions, your spouse’s and other children’s emotions as well. It’s more than anyone can deal with and remain functioning at a healthy level. That is why it is so important to remember that you are not privy to what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s hard but with the power of the Holy Spirit in you, it is doable. In fact, in Christ we are already victorious.
Take heart. Your Savior loves you. He loves your sick child. He is in this and wants to meet with you where you are. He will come to you; all you have to do is ask to meet with Him. Even if things are so dark you don’t recognize his presence, He will never forsake you or leave you alone. Let your praise to Him ring out in the darkness, let the darkness shudder in the fact that is has been conquered, even if it refuses to admit defeat.
Thankfulness and the Medical Team
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
There may not seem like there’s much to be thankful for right now, but I’d like to give you a good place to start: your child’s medical team. It is important to remember that they are human. While they are supposed to put aside personal feelings and operate the highest professional standards possible, that is not always possible. They will have feelings toward you and your child (positive or negative), and they will make mistakes (hopefully minuscule in nature). It is important to be grateful for them and a witness to them during this time.
When my seventh child, J’onn, was six-years-old, he fell off the top of our friend’s pool slide and fractured his skull. The damage was enough that he was transported back to “Tristan’s” hospital to spend the night in the PICU for neuro checks. While in the ambulance, his I.V. line came out. When the PICU nurse told him they would need to start another one, he started to panic. I reminded him of the prayer I said in the car: “Remember, we are going to be thankful that we have a hospital to go to. We are going to remember that there are moms all over the world that would give anything to get their child into this room to get poked and get the help their baby needs. We will be thankful that God provided these nurses and doctors to help you tonight.” Once he remembered this, he had control of his emotions and the nurses were grateful as well. The new I.V. line went in easily without him squirming out of fear.
I meant every word of it. I am so thankful we were back in the PICU and those same doctors and nurses were there to take care of my baby. I have dealt with a lot of nurses and medical staff. My personality has not always clicked with many of them, many don’t do things how I think they should be done, but it’s still my job to show them gratitude. The Lord has put them on your child’s medical team for a reason, if not to be a blessing to you, maybe to be blessed by you. Your child’s illness doesn’t give you carte blanche on selfishness and entitlement. One way to overcome those things is by being thankful.
Being thankful is a good way to keep things in perspective. Be thankful for every day you get to spend with your baby, even if it’s surrounded by their medical team. Be thankful that you can do little things with that team to help make them more comfortable. Be thankful that the Lord has provided medicine, doctors, or even palliative care for your child. I am thankful I had nine-and-a-half years with Tristan- even the last year-and-a-half when he was sick. Those years of knowing and loving him are worth all the pain and loss that accompanied them. I am thankful for those years, as hard as they can be to think about, because of every moment I got to spend with Tristan. I am thankful for every time I did smallest of things to care for him- things I can’t do for him now. What I wouldn’t give just to do one of those menial tasks for him just one more time. I urge you, be thankful.
When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever. Proverbs 10:25
I can remember standing outside the MRI room- again. This was Tristan’s second time in it. It was the second time I had stood there in that hallway looking up through the skylight, utterly astonished that the sun was still shining. My world was crashing around me. I was being swept over by a dark, foreboding storm, its blackness enveloping me. How, with all this darkness pressing on my soul, was the sun still shining? It defied all laws and common sense. It mocked me. It shone brightly as my heart was shattering into such tiny pieces the slightest breeze could have swept them away. And I was sure a cyclone was coming with the darkness of this storm.
That is how bad news can feel. The desperation of your soul crying out and begging God to fix the situation can feel very dark and threatening. The storm can feel like the farthest reaches of the universe have conspired and focused the vacuum of their darkness on your heart. And things can get worse or get better- it’s up to you. The old man wants to curl up and will himself to wake from the nightmare. The Holy Spirit tells us to put one foot in front of the other, to focus on Him, and he will pick up all those pieces of your heart and make a new heart, allowing only the unnecessary bits to be blown away by the wind.
This is why it is so important to be ready for the storm. Build your life on Jesus- the Rock- rather than the faltering sandy beach with the pleasant view. But if you have not strengthened your faith before this storm, that is ok. Jesus is a master Carpenter. The house of your heart, which has been shattered by this storm, was not right for you anyway. Let him rebuild for you. Let Him build where, no matter how terrible the storm, you will not be swept away.
Jesus is our righteousness. Whatever else goes on in our worlds: our child’s illness, financial struggles, relationship woes- whatever it is, it pales in comparison to the importance of that statement. He makes us righteous and establishes us forever in His kingdom. Most people who are not saved don’t realize the Bible tells us they are wicked and the enemy of God. What a hopeless place to be. But if we are saved, no matter how frightening the storm, we are established as His forever. Even the illness or even death of your child is no match for the firm foundation of Jesus.
That information is enough to stand in the darkness headlong to the wind. Let it blow, let it howl; you are immoveable in Christ our firm foundation. All eternity will know that you are His and will never be swept away by the storm.
Why is Irrelevant
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. … On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:1-4, 7
This is the beginning of four chapters full of the Lord’s response to Job. This book is well worth your study. Job suffered in his trials more than I have, and I think it’s safe to assume, more than you. He desperately wanted an explanation, as he was sure his sins had not brought his suffering about. However, by the end of these four chapters, Job is asking forgiveness for his presumption that the Lord needs to answer him for anything.
Jesus said we should have a child-like faith. We need to trust in Him for our care and salvation as our children trust us to care for them. When my kids ask me why, I often explain that they don’t need to know why, they just need to trust me. I tell them that this will help them when they are older in many ways. Their boss will owe them no explanation when assigning them to a task. Their professors will owe them no explanation when assigning them homework. Their God will owe them no explanation when He moves and they don’t understand why.
If we have that child-like faith that our Savior spoke of, then “Why?” becomes irrelevant. If I trust that He has the best in mind for me- and my child- then I need no other answers. We just need to trust that God is for us, just as Paul explained in his letter to the Romans. If we are honest, asking “Why?” doesn’t change anything anyway. If I knew the reasons God allowed cancer to bring tremendous suffering to my son and our family, it wouldn’t change the outcome- I would still miss him. And with even more honesty I must recognize that I am too unequipped to understand the fullness and complexity of God’s plan for my life, Tristan’s life, or the reasons behind all the suffering that came about by one little word: cancer.
As Paul continued in chapter eight of Romans: For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (including my child’s diagnosis) will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (clarification and emphasis mine).
Did I Mean It?
But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8
When my fourth baby was born, I told the Lord, “She’s yours.” Within 36 hours, Madeline was in the PICU going through congestive heart failure, all her organs below her diaphragm had shut down, and her chances of survival were slim. She was born with several rare heart problems that went undetected through my ultrasounds and care in the maternity ward. Through dialysis, open heart surgery, cardiac arrests, nerve damage causing her to become paralyzed, and all the other trauma she endured, Madeline was and is always, His.
Worse than the trials we face with Madeline were the trials we faced with Tristan. Through it all I have to ask myself if I meant it. Did I mean it when I gave Madeline to him? Yes. So then, if she is His, does the Designer not have the creative license to make her life how He wants? Was Tristan his? Yes. And all Tristan’s days were ordained for him (Psalm 139:16). That is His right. If I meant it, then how can I not bow before His will?
As a Christian, what life is worth living if your Savior is not allowed to shape you, the clay, into the vessel He wants you to be? I will be the first to admit that the bending and reshaping of me by the Potter is painful. Or as the master Silversmith has to remove the impurities from the silver to form it into something beautiful (Proverbs 25:4), I also need to be “boiled,” causing my dross to surface so the skilled Master can remove it and shape the purified silver into His design, but being in the fire hurts.
I have heard it said that the most pain a man can face if the death of his wife, and the most pain a woman can face is the loss of her child. It sounds credible to me, my worst fear was the death of my children. But after facing my worst fear, as unbearable as it sometimes feels, I have to admit there is one that is worse: any of my children not trusting in Jesus for their salvation. I know Tristan is with his Lord and I will see him again. For now, the agony of missing him is my cross to bear, but I do not suffer the eternal heartbreak of my child choosing the torture of hell for all of eternity. For that I am ceaselessly thankful.
Part of counting the cost is considering what will happen if the very base of your will is superseded and overthrown by the Father. Will you still mean it if He brings your worst fears upon you? Is He doing that now? The process is painful, and the pain may not just disappear after this trial is done, but the growth is worth it. The intimacy between you and the God of the Universe created by the reshaping of your soul, by the heat of the dross burning away your impurities, is worth it. Trust Him enough to believe He knows what He’s doing- especially when it hurts.
This Present Suffering
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Here in Western society, we are spared many of the sufferings of the third world. In general, we have the finances and medical care available to us without the fear of war, famine, and persecution looming overhead. I believe that is why having a child that needs intensive care, or one that dies, is a great trial for those of us in the West. It is more common for us to bury our parents than for us to bury our children. While death is an interruption and the final enemy, it still makes more sense to us to have life and death respect that generational order.
Sadly, it often does not. And the agony in our hearts makes the days seem longer, and the torture that much more acute. But in reality, our time here is brief, and our trials are shaping us for eternity. There are some important things I think we should remember as we walk through these trials.
First, consider your suffering in the light of eternity. Too much? Consider it from the genealogies in the Bible from about 6000 years ago. Think about each life span with its own struggles and each subsequent generation with all of their struggles. Our trial shrinks in comparison to all the struggles that man has faced throughout history. While large and looming in our eyes, God knew the history of the world before He created it, so he has not been surprised and is not overwhelmed by our suffering. Nor is he immune or unfeeling toward it. Rather He will not waste it, if you will release it and allow Him to use it.
Second, remember Job. He lost all his wealth, all 10 of his kids, his health, even the love of his wife and friends. Compare your trial to his for comparison. While not making light of our most serious trials, it really could be worse.
Thinking this way helps us with perspective, which is very important when trying to wade through the ups and downs of your child’s medical treatments. Some hurts never go away, at least not until we arrive in the Kingdom. But they don’t have to encompass us for the rest of our lives. They most certainly will not encompass us for all of eternity, even though it may feel like it. And when all is said and done, they will fade into nothingness when compared with the glory which will be revealed when we reach the other side. Let us not be ashamed and not allow our faith to crumble from these light troubles. Let us stand firm in Christ Jesus no matter what comes. He stood firm for us, so firm He died for us. The weight of the sin of the world upon Him was no light struggle, but it pales compared to His glory. Remember His suffering for us all and keep a healthy perspective.
Is God Good?
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11
I can remember the fiery arrow of doubt that Satan hurled at me when Tristan got sick. He tried to tell me “Look, you trusted God with your babies and this is what He did. He cannot be ALL good.” As quickly as the thought entered my mind, I cast it out with a swift denial. However, because I did not shore up the hole in my shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16) with the word of God, those arrows continued to sneak through that hole year after year until the Lord revealed to me that my hope and confidence in Him were weak. All those years later, I realized that I don’t really believe that God has precious thoughts toward me (Psalm 139:7), and doesn’t have goodness planned for me as He declared in Jeremiah.
I had been deceived and convinced that while God could do wonderful things, I was not somebody he often chose to do them for. My denials of the Evil One’s arrows did not patch up my armor. I should have fought back by proclaiming Psalm 145:9: “The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.” Or Psalm 106:1: “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Or Nahum 1:7: “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him.” Or 2 Chronicles 7:3: “Truly He is good, truly His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Or any of the multitudes of verses proclaiming the truth about God rather than allowing a stronghold to be built in my mind that is still being torn down to this day.
I never doubted God is good in general, after all if the only thing He ever did for me was sending His Son to die for my sins, that is enough good for all of eternity. But the idea that He wants good things for me in the smallest areas of my life- that I doubted. And after time, that doubt left my hope waning. The idea that God would answer my prayers for my needs and desires was a distant cloud wafting on the horizon that never came to quench my longings. The idea of a God you love yet cannot hope in is crushing.
During this time of emotional strain, please be vigilant to not entertain ideas that come by way of fiery darts. You cannot combat them in your own will as I did. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” That means you need the sword of the spirit which is the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12) to fight back against the spiritual forces vying for your soul and mind.
Write a few verses down and put them in the places you will see them. The bathroom mirror, your calendar, your computer. Remind yourself of this truth: “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). Even on the days you don’t believe it, hide it in your heart anyway. God loves you, and he loves your child.
Where is your hope?
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25
Knowing that your child is sick is like being on a roller coaster. The coaster’s train rises up above the storm clouds only for a setback to hurl you down the track at lightning speed. There is no stopping, no getting off in the middle of the ride, only slowing from time to time. Often the slowness feels like a steep climb to another harrowing fall.
This is why it is so important to have your hope placed in the right spot. We can sit and hope the doctors know what to do, hope the drugs work as expected, hope the surgery works, but when they don’t, and we find ourselves hurdling down that coaster ride, if we have placed our hope in the medical team and drugs and surgeries, the ride will be scarier and more traumatic than if we placed our hope in the Healer.
Everyone and everything on this earth will eventually let us down. The only lasting, non-failing place we can rest is Jesus. I admit, while I hoped in Jesus, I also hoped in doctors and drugs as well. It’s difficult not to. But knowing that even if the doctors failed me Jesus would still be in charge, made the steep descents manageable. His will would be done over any doctors’ will or drug combination they could try. Even if His will did not converge with my will, I could trust that He knows what is best. After all, it is my role to bend my will to His, not vice-versa.
First Corinthians 15:19 says, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” If all the drugs and radiation and surgeries would have worked, Tristan would still be subject to death one day. Though Lazarus was raised from the dead, he still (re)died. If our hope is placed in things of this world- that Christ would make this life good, or easy, or healthy- then we should be pitied. Our hope in our salvation is from the one God-Man who overcame death. It is based in faith in His atonement alone, His grace alone, for this life, but more importantly, the next life.
Eternity is a lot longer than our lifespan here. God said “No” to my prayers of healing for Tristan here. But my hope reaches beyond the healing for this life. Tristan is now in eternity, healed, and more alive than he ever was on this earth. The disappointment of hope deferred I feel in my grief of missing my son is far outweighed by the hope I have that I will live with him again one day soon. That hope is a tree of life, which I would not have without having placed my hope in Jesus. (Proverbs 13:12- Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.) One day my desire to see Tristan alive and well will be fulfilled. I am already praising God for that day.
Emotions in Charge
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than
he who takes a city. Proverbs 16:32
We’ve all had our blow ups. We’ve all wished we could take those harshly spoken words back. One sign of maturity is learning to control your tongue. James tell us in chapter three, For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.” He continues, “So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.” (v.2, 5-10)
“Normal” life can cause unbridled words to flame. How much more so during unsolicited times of stress? But not just anger. When we allow our emotions to rule over us- causing us to react to every little thing, then we are not being ruled by the Spirit, or even ruling over our own spirit. We are then controlled by ever changing waves of emotion- ebbing in, depositing miscellaneous silt, and taking our witness far out to sea when that tide of emotion decides to leave.
Of course there is a time and place for expressing your emotions. In fact, when my “heart baby,” Madeline, was checked into the hospital at 36 hours old, I could not stop crying. Not “crying,” as I could still hold conversations, but the tears would not stop flowing. The salt burned the skin under my eyes and I looked like a red raccoon for days. There was nothing I could do nothing to stop these tears, but I was not a a basket case. I was not continually sobbing or breaking down, it was just a physical reaction to the situation. I did cry, I did need my husband to hold me, but over all, I was composed so that I could understand all the complicated things that were happening. Not only was it complicated, it was like learning a foreign language- “Medicalese.”
Our emotions are important things. But they are things we are to control, they shouldn’t be controlling us. Our emotions can change in a heartbeat so imagine a life solely directed by the transient ups and downs of our emotions. I only have one word for it: Chaos. Isn’t there already enough chaos in this difficult circumstance? Do you really need more of your own making? Ask the Giver of emotions to help you, and He will teach you to control those God-given emotions. He will show you their usefulness and even their deceitfulness. (The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9) He wants you to experience emotions in the most useful way possible in our fallen state, and He will be faithful to teach you.
…We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:4-5
Nobody enjoys suffering. But what if we can transform that suffering into an offering to the Lord that is a pleasant aroma to him? What if our suffering causes others to also praise the One who allowed it? What if we view our suffering as not a waste or a tragedy, but as circumstances allowed by a loving Savior who has nothing but precious, good thoughts toward us (Psalm 139:17), and who says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare (peace) and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
What do we do with the thought of hardship like this being allowed by a loving Savior? Wouldn’t we trade places with our child in a heartbeat because we can’t stand to see them suffer?
Back to Job. God did not make the circumstances that devastated his life, but he did allow them for Job’s ultimate benefit (as well as to prove a point in the spiritual realm). Did God love Job’s children who died any less than Job? No, if Job taught them to love his God as he did, then God’s love reached to them as well. Somehow their death from this life was ultimately for their benefit as well.
The simple fact is that disease, suffering and death are consequences of the Fall. But before placing too much blame on Eve and her husband, God knew they would disobey him and planned even before time began to send his Son to reverse the effects of the fall. Someday we will be here on this earth, in the New Jerusalem with transformed bodies. We will be free from sin, illness, suffering, and the last enemy, death, will have been destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:26). Until then, in this short time we have here on this earth, will we choose to glorify God even in hard times? Paul tells in Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Will we one day be ashamed of our handling of these trials, or will our Savior look at us and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23)?
I will be the first to admit that it is not always easy. There are still some days my heart hurts so much it tries to deny the truths laid out on this page. But it is my choice. I can succumb to the pain and wallow in self-pity, or I can choose to believe that God is good and He, too, suffered in His plan for us. It still hurts, but with the Lord in control it is manageable.
The bottom line truth is that as heavy as our suffering can feel, it is nothing compared to the light of eternity. It is an honor to be counted worthy to suffer, to know that the Lord is working in my life to purify me and conform me into his image. This is the character I want in my life- His.
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:9-11
I love giving gifts to my kids. When I knew Tristan was not going to survive, I picked him up a gift every time I went out, because I knew there would come a time when I could no longer give gifts to him. Usually it was something super hero related: an action figure, book, stickers- really anything, just to give him something he’d like. I love remembering his reaction, and even though many of the gifts never were played with, I knew he appreciated that I thought of him.
I am utterly heartbroken now when I think of how long it’s been since I’ve given Tristan a gift. I often will take flowers to his gravesite and clean it up so I feel like I’ve given him something. But in reality, I gave Tristan the best gift- one that he is treasuring to this day.
I gave Tristan the gift of a God-fearing home. He grew up sanctified (set apart) in a home, imperfect as it is, that loves Jesus. He was blessed by that gift and held onto it until the end. Even when he could no longer play with any of the toys I bought or look at any of the books, he had Jesus.
That gift of watching me follow Jesus, trusting in Him and crying out to Him led him to the place where, after months of suffering, he said he just wanted to go home to Jesus. He knew he would be healed there! He knew he had nothing to fear! He knew that heaven is a better place, and he gave up fighting to stay in this temporal domain to let Jesus finish his work and take him home.
What a gift of peace in the storm. Jesus calmed his waves and brought him safely to Himself (The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. 2 Timothy 4:18). What a gift that he is not dead but is alive with the Son of God this very hour!
The gift of Salvation is ultimately from the Father (For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8- and many more!), but your example is extremely important and influential. Children can know God. “Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’” Matthew 19:14. If you want to give your child the best gift, let them come to Jesus. Create an environment that encourages them to trust in Him. That is a gift that will last for all eternity.