When my son was diagnosed with leukemia, I thought God was punishing me. After all, it felt like punishment. It hurt like punishment. Watching your child suffer is the worst kind of pain.
I searched my Bible for answers. What had I done so wrong that it deserved such a horrible punishment?
Then one day, it struck me. Maybe it wasn’t punishment. After all, hadn’t God suffered the same kind of pain I was in as He watched His only son suffer and die for us?
I probably should have been struck with awe at the love God must have for us, but instead all I could see was more fear.
I would do anything to save my son from even the smallest amount of pain, and yet God had allowed His only son, Jesus, to suffer great agony and even die.
What would God let happen to my son? How much would he have to suffer? Would God step in?
At The Breaking Point
As Cooper’s cancer treatment continued, I was terrified. Every time we ended up back in the hospital with a fever, I wondered, “How much, God? How much?”
Treatment eventually slowed. And we scheduled Cooper’s Make-A-Wish trip to Florida. On the plane, I noticed Cooper felt warm.
Like most cancer moms, I didn’t need a thermometer to detect a fever, but I rummaged around in the bag and found one anyhow.
By the time we landed, Cooper’s temperature was over 101˚F. We got off the plane and straight into an ambulance they had waiting for us on the tarmac.
After all we’d been through, this was my breaking point.
Searching For Answers
I sat in that hospital room in Florida, holding my septic, sleeping child, as I stepped out onto the ledge where body meets soul and wondered: “Is there really a God? Does He really even exist? Is this all just random?”
The angels and demons held their breath, waiting for my answer.
And in that moment, stripped of all emotion and thought, I wrestled for the truth.
But even then, at my core, there was no denying it. God exists.
Stepping back from the ledge of my doubt, I thought, “Okay, so God is real. But does He really care?”
I didn’t see how He could. After all, I’d been praying for weeks for a happy, healthy trip. Didn’t we at least deserve that much after everything we had been through? Instead, God had left us sitting in a hospital room in Florida.
Calling For Help
My husband suggested I call our priest, but I laughed at him. I hardly knew the guy. What was I going to do? Call him up and say, “Hey, I’ve decided there really is a God, but I’m pretty sure He doesn’t care about me. Please help.”
After a few days of utter spiritual desolation, I finally gave in.
I poured my heart out to our priest, leaving out none of the dirty details of our situation and my spiritual wrestling match. When I was done, I sat there sniffling like a child, clutching the phone like it was my last lifeline. I waited to hear what he would say.
A part of me thought for sure he would kick me out of the church just for doubting, so his answer surprised me.
“Don’t stop praying. I know it’s hard, but you can’t stop praying. Be honest with God. Tell Him how you feel. After all, He already knows. Trying to hide it from Him is, in a sense, like lying. So, be respectful, but also be honest.”
The idea had never crossed my mind. Tell God what I thought of Him? Really, was that allowed
Leaning Into Faith
I hung up the phone and decided to give it a try. I bowed my head and said, “God, I love you, and I respect you, but I am so frustrated at you right now. How could you let this happen? Where are you in all of this? I feel like you don’t love me.”
As I finished my prayer, a feeling of peace settled down around me, smoothing the worried lines of my forehead as it settled in my heart. For the first time since we’d arrived at the hospital, I felt calm, and I knew His answer: “I’m right here.”
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart. I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
To this day, when I wrestle with doubt, I go back to that moment in the hospital. I feel the conviction I felt when I was stripped down to my very base, and I know that truly questioning my faith was the biggest faith-building moment of my life.