Parenting has taught (or maybe better, is teaching) me many things. I've seen the ugliness of my impatience, the beauty of a child's unbridled joy. I've felt the pressure of providing for my family and the satisfaction of seeing a child master a learned skill. I've learned the necessity of self-denial and the importance of giving my children a grid through which to view everything that happens. I've come to appreciate more my wife who is one of the strongest people I know. I have experienced joy because of my children's joy and sorrow because of their sorrow. Sometimes I summarize it this way: our children challenge us every day and they bring us joy every day. And along the way, by God's grace, we're learning to handle many of those challenges (though we know many more lie ahead).
The last week, however, parenting has taken me into uncharted waters [but see update below]: complete helplessness. Of course, apart from the power of the God who dwells in my by his Spirit I am helpless in every aspect of parenting. But I've not felt helplessness like this before. For the last week, my oldest son has endured painful, and in some ways incapacitating symptoms that so far remain undiagnosed; not for lack of trying. There are several possibilities on the table, but nothing definitive. And so for the last week the treatment has been largely managing symptoms and guesswork.
The result has been a feeling of helplessness. To have your son look at you with misery in his face and not know what to do or how to help him hurts. Even when years ago another of our sons was in the PICU for 9 days, we had a diagnosis. I couldn't make him better, but we knew what was wrong and that the treatment he was receiving was right thing to do. Now we don't know. Don't let me oversell our plight - it is serious, but others have suffered far more and of course for far longer.
But we feel helpless nonetheless. Which brings me to the point of telling you all of this. God has never felt like I feel now. There are many things we can learn about God by considering earthly fatherhood. God calls himself Father for a reason. But of course the comparison isn't exact. In this case, God has never felt or been helpless. My heavenly Father is never stumped at a trial in my life. He is never at a loss to diagnose or treat my maladies. He never looks into my face and wants to help but can't. The God who made and saved me has every resource and power to shape me into the man he's called me to be and will complete the good work he's begun in me. I'm glad that he's not like me.
And, he's not at a loss as to what's going on with my son either. So while we head back to the doctor tomorrow, uncertain of what we'll hear; what the lab work will reveal (we have some guesses and hope that we may be getting close to a diagnosis, but don't know). God knows exactly what we'll hear tomorrow. He knows whether we'll walk away with answers or more unknowns. And he will see us through either way. I may be helpless, but certainly not hopeless because my God is anything but helpless. Will you pray with us for wisdom for the doctor, healing for our son, and grace for his mom and dad to rest in the mighty power of this God?
UPDATE: We've seen the doctor, and still no definitive answers; still waiting for some test results to come back. And I was thinking, I shouldn't have called the feeling of complete helplessness "uncharted waters." I was just remembering having to spend a long time chasing down another medical diagnosis for another son when we didn't know the source of the problem some years ago. I'm sure we felt helpless then as well. Apparently I have more to learn about depending on our good God!
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