Like most mothers, I have a little grizzly mama in me. Mess with my kids, and I just may rear up on my hind legs and get a little wild. But life does mess with our kids, and it never stops being hard. Maybe sometimes it’s harder on us than on them. Or maybe it just feels like it.
I’ve seen my kids bloodied, frightened, confused, bullied, rejected, heartbroken, fighting for life. Every one of those moments feels fresh and raw, like the moment when my youngest, a preemie, struggled to breathe as his body burned with fever from pneumonia. Or the moment when my oldest son’s eyes were completely lifeless and unresponsive, and I feared I would never see him again.
Now our kids are grown, but somehow it still hurts to see them hurt. How does a parent deal with that? Long gone are the days when I could make things right with a kiss and a bandage or a phone call to a teacher or parent. It’s no use. Grown kids live in the no-interference zone.
We parents can pray. We can listen. We can offer words of wisdom. We can offer familiar comforts – a favorite meal, a favorite destination, shoulder-to-shoulder time watching a favorite movie. We can offer our presence and our support. But it doesn’t feel like enough. And the feeling of helplessness consumes us.
Honestly, we often can’t fix it. And hard as it may be, perhaps we shouldn’t try. Because pain is part of life, and we who gave them life cannot deny it to them.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
– Romans 8:28
The Potter shapes and molds us using the sharp edge of experience. If I hadn’t been epileptic as a child, would I have suffered the sexual abuse my sister was said to have suffered? If I hadn’t been abused and abandoned, would the whole motherhood thing matter so much to me?
The good news is that we have a God who understands our struggles because He, like us, was clothed in fragile flesh.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.
– Hebrews 4:16
Sometimes our children’s suffering, like our own, is for their good, and sometimes it may also be for the good of others – like us moms, who must learn to trust God more. Not only do we serve a God who understands our struggles, but we have a Father who knows all too well what it is to stand by while His child suffers, even while the Child cries out for help.
And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”
– Mark 15:34
Imagine standing by and doing nothing while your child pleads for mercy. But God did turn away for our sake, though the hosts of heaven stood ready for the call. Similarly, sometimes our trials can result in faith-building for others – the boy who was just diagnosed with cancer, the girl who just lost her father, the grandmother who is watching her own precious grandchild suffer.
He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?
– Hebrews 8:32
Trust God for the outcome. He is good and generous. He hears your prayers, and He knows your pain. And He, as their Creator, loves them even more than you do. And offering a listening ear over a favorite meal doesn’t hurt either.