Two of our three children were born with Congenital Hyperinsulinism, a rare genetic disorder of the pancreas which causes blood sugar to constantly bottom out to dangerously low levels. Shortly after birth, they each received a 98% pancreatectomy, and they are now dependent on insulin to keep blood glucose stable. I suppose you could say they are “surgically-induced diabetics.” Needless to say, for most of our marriage, our home has been filled with many finger pricks and insulin shots, and we know something about pain and suffering.
Our house has also been filled with many questions: Why do I have to get shots and my brother doesn’t? Will I die from this? Why did God make me with diabetes? Such questions have forced us to broach theological concepts many Christian parents in America do not have to deal with. Such concepts include, but are not limited to, sin’s curse, God’s sovereignty, and God’s provision. Here are five principles to give some perspective when you face pain and suffering.
Most People throughout the History of Humanity Have Faced Hard Times
The situation of even the poorest children in modern-day America is better than children all around the world; modern conveniences such as running water and electricity are unknown to the vast majority of children who exist now and have existed for all of time. The truth is, my children get to have insulin shots; they get to have surgery; they get to live with diabetes. One hundred years ago, a child in America with their condition would have died a few days after birth. In His providence, God has seen fit that they live at this time and in this country. Their disease is a result of the fall in Eden, but their opportunities for a productive life are a blessing from God.
Perspective is important. Knowing of and sympathizing with the plight of others encourages us to be more thankful for our situation. But such knowledge might also cause a child to question God’s love for those who have a more severe situation. That’s why this next topic is important.
God Is Not the Author of Your Problems—He Is the Answer
Ultimately, the existence of evil, pain, and suffering in this life goes back to man’s disobedience (Gen. 3:17). God is not responsible for the curse. Man is. God is the answer in the midst of our brokenness, and this answer is found ultimately in Jesus, who became cursed to redeem those who are cursed (Gal. 3:13).
We often casually throw out the words “Lord and Savior,” but these should not just be empty words that we say at church. “Savior” is a vital name of Christ for His dealing with the problem of evil. When we call Him “Savior,” we acknowledge that He is the answer for our sin-cursed situation. When we look around at our own problems and the desperate situation of others we will either ask, “God, how could you let this happen?” or declare, “God you are the only hope for the world!” That is why we must allow Scripture, rather than the bad news this world has to offer, to permeate our perspective. When we inundate our minds with negativity on social media and 24-hour news channels, it’s easy to lose focus on Christ as Savior, the answer for our problems.
God Never Promised a Trouble-Free Life—He Promised His Presence
Often parents try to shield their children from every problem. As parents, we run ahead and remove every obstacle from their path—a difficult teacher, a challenging science project, a neighborhood bully—to provide an easy life for our children. This is a noble desire, but it paints an unrealistic picture of what life is really like. When Christ was about to leave this world, He made a frightening promise to His disciples: “In the world, you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). Christ did not hold back from this reality, and when it comes to our children, we should not either.
Christ did not just promise trouble; he also promised his presence: “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Christ promised that the Father would send the Comforter who would aid His followers and be with them forever (John 14:16).
God’s Knows Everything About You and Nothing Takes Him by Surprise
It’s easy for children to see God as a deity that is far off in heaven. Children should have a serious view of God, but they must also come to realize that God is also concerned with the intimate details of our life. Christ’s teachings to His disciples recorded in Matthew 10 present God as a powerful judge who has the right and power to execute judgment on every man (verse 28). This is a fearful image of God’s transcendent nature. And yet, in the very next verses, we find His immanence displayed as the Careful Caretaker of the smallest animals of creation (verse 29) and the One who knows the number of hairs on the head of every person (verse 30).
God did not just create the world with the power of His voice; He also knows the whereabouts of every creature great and small in His creation. He is not only the Lord of all kings and kingdoms, He is also the Father to peasants and beggars. God not only designed the sophistications of the human mind and the intricacies of the human body, He knows all about diabetes, cancer, meningitis, pneumonia, and malaria. He is the Lord of the universe, and He knows everything about you!
God is Always Fair, but God Is Not Always Equal
We’ve heard our children say it many times: “That’s not fair!” Most of the time, this is uttered when something is unequal. “His cake is bigger than mine. That’s not fair.” In some situations, it may be, “I have cancer, and the other kids don’t. That’s not fair.” “That’s not equal” is what we really mean. But in God’s kingdom, equal does not equal fair.
God does not give spiritual gifts equally (1 Cor. 12:15-20). God allows different circumstances, even disease (John 9:1–12), to bring Him glory. God saves some at a young age and others later in life (Mat. 27:38). God allows the rain to fall on everyone (Mat. 5:45), but some face more severe circumstances (Job 1). Life is always fair because God is always fair; God is always fair because He is good, holy, and wise. But God is not always equal. While He may not be equal, God is always fair.
I don’t know what you’re going through. Whether it is more or less severe than diabetes does not matter, because the same God who sustains us through our trials will sustain you through your unique trials. Look to the good, holy, and wise God who is the Answer to your problems. This God who knows everything about you and who is always fair will be with you through the trials.