Fathers and Sons

Some of you are aware that the last three months or so have been a rocky road for my twenty month-old son, Jack. After an unusual period of what I’ll call “loose stools,” Rachel and I grew concerned. An initial visit to our pediatrician led to a battery of tests. Meanwhile, Jack got sicker; he lost appetite and weight, evidenced abdominal pain, and developed a significant limp. Our first visit to a GI specialist led to more tests, conversations with other medical professionals, medication, and eventually a trip to Kansas City to get a second opinion. After yet more tests looking for both gastro-intestinal and orthopedic issues and only marginal improvement from the medicine, we eventually returned to Kansas City. There Jack underwent an endoscopy/colonoscopy, a procedure that led to the better part of three days in the hospital and an initial diagnosis of Crohn’s disease.

Crohn’s is an auto-immune disease that leads to inflammation of the GI track. It is evidently extremely rare in children of Jack’s age. It is also not currently curable, though it is treatable with medication. I’m told that the severity varies from person to person. And while many people do very well with the disease, it can be associated with a number of complications.

Needless to say, the entire process of watching my son grow sick and struggle with such serious symptoms, deal with a range of what are for a little boy frightening tests and procedures, and ultimately receive a diagnosis of this sort has been extremely, extremely difficult for both Rachel and me. We’ve found ourselves deeply mourning the possibility that Jack will have to battle, to one degree or another, this disease for the rest of his life. We’ve repeatedly been left overwhelmed, physically and emotionally exhausted.

And yet…

Throughout this process God has demonstrated himself to be incredibly gracious and faithful. I don’t mean to imply that he’s removed all the difficulty with a wave of his hand. He hasn’t. Far from it in fact. But he has encouraged and sustained our family in a surprising number of ways. (And I should mention that probably several of you who are reading this blog have played no small part in that.)

I mention all of this in order to share a simple thought that has been particularly encouraging to me in hopes that some of you who—especially parents—might be encouraged as well, either now or at some point in the future. It’s simply this: that when I as a father who loves his son cry out to God in prayer, that when I beg him to pour out his grace on Jack, even perhaps to heal him, with whom am I speaking?

I’ve come to realize that I’m not only praying to the God who has repeatedly revealed himself to be “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” I’m not only petitioning the one who promises ultimately to wipe every tear from his people’s eyes. I’m also crying out to a Father. A Father who knows what it is to see his own Son suffer.

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