Monday, March 19, 2007

Suffering and Pain

On top of the recent news that we lost one of our little ones before even being able to get her medical help, last week turned out to be a very long week for Chedner and me. He has not been feeling very well. He is not only teething and having big time digestive problems but now the curve in his spine has gotten worse. You know, sometimes when I look at him, I cannot help but wonder how it is that one small baby can have this many problems and yet be so incredibly sweet natured. It's that "fairness" question that always pops into the mind when faced with these types of circumstances. Anyway, the events of the last week have gotten me thinking alot about pain and suffering in our lives and the lives of others. Even in the most blessed and easy life, there is some amount of pain and sadness. Then, if you look at a country like Haiti, at times it seems that all you see is suffering.

When I was in Haiti awhile back, I met with Chedner's father and told him how his son was doing here in the US. Fabius had a wonderful smile as he watched the video and looked at pictures of how big his only son has grown. He shared with me that Chedner had been shunned at birth by his mother's family due to the obvious physical abnormalities. He was scared for his son to return there as he was concerned that someone might try and harm him because of those differences. Despite the work of the surgeons, Chedner will never look "normal" in some regards. I have heard in Haiti it is common to view these congenital anomolies as a curse or a punishment for something wrong that his parents or family had done. They are not alone in this belief. While this may seem to be a foriegn thought, I think it hits close to home as well. I believe many of us worry that bad things that the pain and suffering in our lives is a result of our past sins. We do worry about "payback" for our sins and I myself have wondered occasionally when the other shoe might drop on some of the doozies I pulled off in my youth. Funny thing is though...I wouldn't ever think for a moment that Chedner's congenital anomolies have anything to do with his parents past behavior. Apparently, I must put my sins in a catagory all by themselves!

Now before you say anything, I know that is not how God works and thankfully a wise pastor helped me see that more clearly this weekend. I had spent too much time last week wondering...Why is there pain and suffering in God's world? Surely, our God of love would not want His children to suffer? Why do so many babies and young children in countries like Haiti and the Sudan die painful deaths while their mothers watch helpless to save them? Why did this small baby in my care have to be born with so many medical problems? Why did he have to be shunned? Why did his mother have to suffer the loss of her firstborn son so that he could travel to the US and undergo so many long & painful procedures over the next few years? Why doesn't our God just go ahead and put an end to the suffering of so many of these little ones?

After studying some passages in Romans 8, it became a bit clearer in my mind. Here's what what I concluded and you can tell me what you think:

I came to understand that in the beginning sin entered the world. It wasn't God's choice, just as it isn't God choosing to bring the suffering. Man introduced sin into paradise and by our natures we continue the trend. God simply acted as any loving father would and reminded us that there are consequences to our actions. He wanted better for us all. He isn't punishing us for the bad things we have done by having bad things happen to us in our lives. Our lives are lived in a fallen world and in that world all manner of misery exists. Pain and suffering are now part of that life. God is hoping that we learn from the mistakes we have made and in the end, hopes that we choose Jesus as our way out.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21)

God cries as we cry to watch the pain of life as we know it now. He loves us and would never have chosen this course for his children, but as we did start down this path by ourselves, He will stay by our sides the entire trek. I was reminded that despite all the suffering and pain we have and see in those around us, God loves us and is with us always. He will help us carry on and is ready to take the strain from our shoulders if we give the load to him freely. I was also reminded that our hope is in Christ. And in the end, for those of us holding onto that hope, all will be made new and all the suffering & pain will come to an end.

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

I'm hoping this week is more peaceful and that I am able to make a plan with Chedner's surgeons that will help improve his quality of life. And I will remember as I work to help the sickest of children in Haiti that God grieves as we grieve for the state of this world. He has an answer in place here to help those who are in pain....the answer is us. God has placed all of us here to help others and to lessen the suffering of the less fortunate. We make can make the positive difference until, in the end, all is made well. When we work for that purpose, we cannot go wrong.


Heather said...

Fran, I hear your heart and I have been there! You said it well. Thanks for sharing your heart, and I will be praying for sweet Chedner!

Stacy J said...

Thank you for sharing Fran. God is speaking through you and I appreciate your heart to share. Our family will pray for Chedner - that God's perfect plan will be done in his life.

Stacy J.