Recently, Seth and I have both encountered some people who are mystified, and even quite angry or disillusioned with the concept that there exists a loving God who would allow an awful disease, like leukaemia, to happen to a child – specifically our Edward. So we want to address these questions, and explain why we believe in God, and why our faith is still unwavering despite Ned’s recent diagnosis.
For us, God's existence is an unquestionable truth, regardless of how our lives are going. We live on this broken, nasty earth, containing immeasurable suffering, because of our own (ie. humans') wrongdoings and our surrounding crumbling physical world. Just because we're Christians, we are not immune to this. Look at Iraq at the moment - the suffering of the Christians there far outweighs our own battle with leukaemia.
We don't believe in 'karma' - where good things happen to good people, and bad comes around to those who deserve it. If we believed that, are we saying there’s a reason for all the suffering of innocent Ned and so many other children around the world?!
Seth and I don't claim to fathom or comprehend the reasons why this has happened to us or Ned, but we also realise that God is far greater and more infinite than any human can imagine, and His "reasons" for bad things happening may never be revealed. And we're ok with that, because we each have had a nearly-lifelong relationship with Jesus, accepting that we've been saved by His death and resurrection, and are loved unconditionally, despite our faults, weaknesses, doubts and less-than-virtuous character traits. We know His love, care and concern intimately - just as most children know of their parents' devotion. He promised that if we believed, we would be saved, but He never promised that we'd have an easygoing, happy life without suffering.
I don't condone or ask for suffering... nobody wilfully wants it in their or their families' lives. But often, brokenness and ruin can be used to cultivate more resilient and empathetic individuals, to bond relationships, and build stronger, more supportive communities – as we’ve both certainly experienced during this horrific last month with Ned.
Still, through all of this, though we both have so many unanswered questions, we still cling to the truth, comfort and hope that the God of this entire universe provides. Seth and I have certainly experienced anger and confusion about why our darling boy has to suffer, but we certainly don't blame God for what has happened. I don't know where I'd be if I felt like everything depended upon me, or Seth, or Ned, or our healthcare providers - we're all only human. Knowing that there is a higher being who has created us, knows us each individually, who rejoices with us during our successes, and who grieves and hurts alongside us when we are traversing the darkest of valleys, gives Seth and me a hope that transcends and far exceeds any despair we harbour. And at the end of it all, when everything is finished, we do trust that we are destined for a place where there are no tears, no pain, no brokenness, and all suffering has vanished – such comfort to our aching hearts at this time.
Neither of us presume that if we believe more or pray "hard enough", all will be resolved or come right. We don't presume that this leukaemia warpath will necessarily be smooth or end well. Rather, we know that whatever the outcome is, and however nasty and awful things are along the way, we will be carried and comforted by our Father, who has Himself grieved for a suffering child.
So then, where is God in all of this? He’s in the love and immense support we’ve received from our friends, family, church, neighbours, and work places. He’s in the relationships that have been forming and strengthening because of this adversity. He’s in the bonding we each have with Ned because of all the time we spend with him in his vulnerability during treatments and admissions. He’s in Seth’s and my conversations and the topics we’ve been able to broach in our marriage because we have more intense time together. He’s in Lucy’s questions, her growing understanding and sympathy, the blossoming sibling relationship. And He’s in our story, which may one day, in some way, touch people far-reaching and unknown to us.