Note: I wrote this post 3 years ago when my daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on May 20th, 2014. It was a shock on that day and still is hard at times today. Yet, God has been faithful every step of the way.
A week ago, our family received some shocking and unexpected news. My wife took our oldest child to the doctor for a routine visit. Eden had been up late at night with frequent bathroom visits and dying of thirst. My wife thought she might have a urinary tract infection so it seemed like it would be a quick visit. Ten minutes with the doctor, a prescription for an antibiotic, and this little issue for my daughter would be over quickly.
But it wasn’t a urinary tract infection and it wasn’t going to be over in a week. The doctor told Rebecca, “We believe she has Type 1 Diabetes.”
My wife who is 37 weeks pregnant almost fell out on the floor. When she called me, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. We were rushed to the doctor in Nashville that afternoon where they gave us the 2-hour crash course training on how to give your 4-year-old shots starting today. In a moment, it seemed like the world looked completely different. Like the bottom fell out of life.
Now I don’t have all the answers when it comes to suffering in this life. To tell the truth, I am still stumbling through all of this through tears and feelings of being overwhelmed at times. Yet, God has been so gracious to our family and I would love to share some of the truths God has been teaching me about suffering. . .
Prepare for Suffering
John Piper always told his congregation that he didn’t preach on suffering because his people were suffering right now. Instead, he preached on suffering because it is coming. We live in a fallen world. A world that always will involve suffering until Jesus comes. Therefore, God’s people must not be surprised by suffering but they must prepare themselves for the inevitable.
I look over the last 5 months of my life and never more the Word of God been more precious to me than during this time. The past 5 months have been spent walking from Genesis to First Chronicles with some men in the church and on every page I have seen a never-failing, always faithful God who never leaves nor forsakes his people. If it were not for reading God’s Word or hearing biblical messages on suffering in the past, I would not be walking by faith through suffering today. Preparation for future suffering is one of the most important things we can do today.
Let God Write Your Dictionary
For too many Christians, we have our own definition of what “the good life” exactly is and our prayer is that God would orchestrate our lives to agree with that definition. Yet, this is not walking by faith. This is making God a genie who grants our wishes.
Instead, I have learned this week to let God define what good is for my family. We all have read Romans 8:28- “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose,” but do we really believe that God’s plan for our life is the good life.
By faith, even though it is hard, I believe that my family dealing with diabetes is better than my family being perfectly healthy if God says it is good. Suffering in God’s will is better than being healthy outside of God’s will.
Talk about the Gospel
Over the last week, we have had a lot more opportunities to talk about the gospel and talk about the goodness of God. People always come up and asks questions about how Eden or our family is doing with all the change. We have set out to testify to God’s goodness any time we can. We talk about God giving us an amazing doctor, great insurance, a job where I can take off from with short notice, a church family that loves us well, parents and siblings who will drop everything to help. God has supplied so many blessings in the midst of this sorrow.
Even with Eden we have had the opportunity to talk about the hope we have in the gospel. She asked the first night, “Was that the last time?” through tears as we gave her the insulin shot. This broke my heart but it was an opportunity to talk about the truth that those who put their hope in Jesus will one day be cured from all types of sickness. Suffering might seem overwhelming in this life, but it will ultimately be overwhelmed by the precious blood of Jesus forever.
Let People Help
One of the greatest encouragements I would give anyone suffering is don’t keep your suffering to yourself. I have to admit that sometimes I want to isolate myself. It is easier to go to sleep or to avoid people, but what is good for my soul is to let others suffer with us. To even go a step further and seek help from those in the community of faith.
My mother has dropped everything to go to every doctor’s visit. My sister and her husband have taken care of our youngest daughter. Families from Christ Fellowship have brought us dinner and asked to help. Brothers from our church and other churches have talked to me on the phone while I have been overwhelmed, speaking the sweet truths of the gospel to me. We have to remember that God put us in the community of faith for many reasons and one of those reasons is to never suffer alone.
Worship the Lord
The most important thing is to press into the Lord. The Lord is just as worthy of your praise in the midst of the suffering as he was before the suffering came.
The day after we received the news, I opened the Bible and heard David singing as the ark was brought into the city, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever,” (1 Chronicles 16:34). What a great reminder! The Lord is still good. The Lord’s love will endure forever and ever. He is worthy of praise continuously from God’s people even through suffering.
We often believe that the Lord is far from us in the midst of suffering, but “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” (Psalm 46:1). Over the last week, God’s word has been sweet, his presence has been evident, his grace has been sufficient and therefore, we will continue to bless his name with or without diabetes.