Last year I was in the waiting room of Children’s Hospital as my daughter was whisked off for yet another test. I had come in that day with a heavy heart feeling like we were back to square one after years of fighting this stubborn health battle. Sitting alone, I was sobered as child-after-child was wheeled into the waiting area in wheelchairs. But one child, in particular, grabbed my attention and heart. While his mother was checking him in, I couldn’t help but notice his contorted body struggling with each movement barely able to hold himself up. His entire body seemed to be groaning with indistinguishable sounds. With all I had been through with my own daughter’s health, in that moment I actually felt thankful – thankful because Anna was not confined to a wheelchair, she could use her limbs, and she could speak. And yes, what we have gone through has been terribly difficult, but somehow this morning things were put into a perspective I desperately needed!
However, seeing the kind of suffering in this little boy was more than I could emotionally handle, so I found my thoughts wandering off into silent prayers begging God to somehow be present in this child’s life and to be with his mom who bears such a heavy daily burden. To look into a child’s face every day knowing he or she is suffering in a way that you can do little about is a kind of excruciating pain that I never encountered…until seven years ago.
Suddenly, I was jolted out of my reflective thoughts when the technician loudly called out the boy’s name.
“Job” (like what we call work), she said.
His mother quickly spoke up and said, “No, his name is ‘Job’” (like the Bible character).
The moment I heard her correction, tears spilled down my face and a chill down my spine. Here in a hospital waiting room was a modern-day picture of Job in the twisted and broken body of a little boy.
I couldn’t get the image of Job out of my mind and heart. How did that mother get up every day, and how did she keep going – especially since her child would never be free from his agonizing suffering this side of heaven? How do you reconcile such suffering in the body of an innocent child? I’m not going to attempt to answer the age-old question of why a good God allows suffering. But rather, how do we hold onto hope in the Job-like circumstances in our lives? Here are a few things God brought home to my heart after that sobering morning.
Remain Thankful. In Jesus Calling, author, Sarah Young, says, “Thanking Me for trials will feel awkward and contrived at first. But if you persist, your thankful words, prayed in faith, will eventually make a difference in your heart. Thankfulness awakens you to My Presence, which overshadows all your problems.” I want to say it also enables us to get up and face one more day giving us a new perspective in our circumstances.
Remain Hopeful. Christian-recording artist Jeremy Camp’s song “There Will Be a Day” says, “…But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings/That there will be a place with no more suffering…There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears/There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face/But until that day, we’ll hold on to you always…”
Did you catch the lyrics…there will be a day with no more suffering and no more tears – but until that day we hold on to Jesus! The way we live well in the midst of the suffering in this world is to live holding on to Jesus. Knowing that whatever comes our way, He will always be right by our side walking us through, holding us up, and giving us the supernatural strength, grace, and hope to walk through whatever we’re facing. God is never closer than when our hearts are breaking. Eventually He will wipe away all of our tears. Until then, not one will go unnoticed, not one will be ignored. And Revelation 21:4 reminds us that not only will He wipe away our tears, He’ll remove all the sorrow that caused them in the first place.
A day is coming where there will be no more children in wheelchairs, no more contorted bodies that don’t work, no more medical problems with no cures, no more chronic pain, depression, loss – no more tears – and no more little boys named Job. We have the absolute promise and hope that one day the burdens of this place will be no more and we will see Jesus face to face. And what a grand day that will be when all of our suffering will be left behind. This is the hope our hearts can cling to as we walk through all of the Job-like experiences we face in this life!
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.
All these things are gone forever.
*First printed in Just Between Us Magazine (justbetweenus.org)
SHELLY ESSER has been the editor of Just Between Us (justbetweenus.org), a magazine to encourage and equip women for a life of faith, for the last 26 years. Additionally, she is an author and freelance editor. For the last 15 years, she has been caring for her chronically ill daughter and husband. Her heart and passion is to walk alongside women to help them deepen their faith, and bring encouragement and hope, especially in life’s difficulties. She and her husband have four daughters, a son-in-law, and live in suburban Milwaukee, WI.
Radical hope. Compassionate change. Equipping those affected by chronic physical and mental illness through community and education rooted in Jesus Christ.