Joy called a couple days into Eliza’s illness. We kind of chatted about this and that, housekeeping stuff about our ladies book study, Thanksgiving travel plans, whatever. She kept going back to Eliza, and I soon just started crying and telling her how sad I was to see Eliza like this, how I felt like a bad mom, etc. She was kind, gentle and sympathetic, asked some “experienced mom” questions about taking care of a sick baby, affirmed how hard it is to deal with an ill child, then said, “Well, let me pray.”
She asked God to heal Eliza’s body, grant her restful sleep for recovery, comfort from the pain, etc. Then her prayer turned to me. She asked God to remind me of his sovereignty in the midst of this illness, that he would grow me and change me through this trial and that I would be aware of his hand at work through it all.
This is exactly what I needed to hear. I realized I had made this trial all about me- what I was or was not doing to care for my daughter and how sad I was about her being sick. I had not even considered what God was doing through the illness or what he wanted me to learn. After God mercifully, through the prayer of a friend, turned my thoughts away from myself and onto him, he brought to mind many truths from his word for me to meditate upon. I’ll share one with you.
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-20). Our world is broken- from my daughter’s relatively mild childhood disease to all the deformities, decay, death, calamity, tragedy that surround us, we are constantly reminded that our world is not as it should be.
Why is this? Sin. This goes back to Genesis and the garden. Do you remember the punishment God gave Adam and Eve for their sin? He cursed Adam’s body with sweat and the ground with thorns — his body would have to labor with difficulty to bring forth food from the ground. He cursed Eve with greater pain in childbirth. Notice that God cursed Adam and Eve with physical pain even though their sin was a moral problem. Physical suffering and turmoil, then, must be a signpost for how horrible sin is.
I know that I am not emotionally outraged at my own sin- I rarely hate or respond in any kind of emotional upheaval when I sin. In contrast, as I learned during Eliza’s illness, I am an emotional wreck when confronted with physical pain or disease, especially my child’s. God taught me that as much as I hate my daughter being sick, as sad as I was to see her ill, I should be even more quick to hate and be even more greatly saddened at my own sin. Yes, Lord, let this be true in my heart. Praise God for the faithful words and prayers of a friend and for truth from his Word to inform my circumstances. God is good.
**John Piper’s sermon “Where is God?” from desiringgod.org has been incredibly helpful for me in developing a biblical framework for trial and suffering**