This morning, my only son was up with a running nose that kept clogging up his airway so he would choke, so naturally, both my wife and I were up at different times: walking, patting, feeding, nose-suctioning and praying for this life that has been entrusted to us. As I was walking around our house, holding my son upright, I began thinking of suffering, pain and sin.
John 9 came to mind where
As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned,this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
Neither this man, nor his parents sinned… So often I and the books of this generation approach pain and suffering with the question why? As a father, the idea of the works of God being displayed has taken on a new meaning. My son was born with Pierre Robin Sequence, a developmental disorder which causes the tongue to develop faster than the jaw in pre-natal infants. The breathing problems last night were normal for the first 3 months of my sons life, and now only rarely, like when he has a cold. During the last 5 months when my son cannot breathe and I or my wife must sit with him, hold him, care for him, we rarely have time to think “why is this happening?”
As a father, my works, my love is displayed for my son by holding him, by laying next to him for 2 and a half hours so I can help him breathe every time he coughs. I think we often do God an injustice by asking why and not looking up for the eyes of our Father, who holds us through it all. Why does suffering happen? That is not what I ask at 2:30 in the morning, that is what I ask afterwards, when there is time to think. In the midst of suffering, all I can do is be the love of God to another.
Perhaps we, as Christians, should seek to answer the questions less, and instead reach out with the loving arms of God. Do we see others blindness as an opportunity to hold their hand across the street? Do we see others pain as an opportunity to hold them?
My prayer for myself and anyone else is not to try to reason away the pain and suffering around us, but to be moved with compassion as Mark describes our Lord and Savior being and to reach out our hands to heal, comfort or just be there.