Child of God


Fatherhood and Parenting
Author Jan Carlin

Caring for sick children can be a source of revelation as well as frustration. Here Jan Carlin reflects on how looking after his child led him to a closer conversation with God.

Having a sick child has meant that I have come closer to God. I think not having experienced the trauma of having a seriously unhealthy child, would have made it harder for me to approach him. For me, this has made a big difference.

When I grew up I was an agnostic at best. God was never there for me, I thought, so does it really matter if He exists? At times I would argue with my friends against the notion that there is a God.

That all changed when my son was born. Somehow I could not deny His existence any more. Some powers, greater than me or any one I knew, had brought me this perfect little boy that I held in my arms. How could I be worthy of this invaluable gift? To me it became apparent that a benevolent God of some kind must exist.

I started to go to church with my small family and I baptised my son, and later my daughter. That had not happened for many generations in my family but no one has complained so far. I appreciated the environment that the church provided and the sermons sometimes gave me issues to ponder that I hadn't really considered before. Although I enjoyed the church, its members and the priest and the support and joy they all brought, I did not have any closer contact with the God whose hand had touched me after my son's birth.

A few days after my son turned three, a long trip across half the planet, triggered a decease that had been inert until that point. He was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. My wife and I brought him to the emergency ward of the Children's Hospital. Seeing him there on the hospital bed, seemingly suspended between life and death, with an acute dehydration caused by untreated high blood sugar levels, I was again reminded that there are powers greater than me and that they have the power to take away what they have given.

I was shocked and I feared for his safety for a long time after he recovered fully from the immediate consequences of the life long decease. Untreated, my son could die and the responsibility of sustaining his life on a day to day basis now rested on me and my wife. I was angry with God for doing this to my boy.

The anger and the anxiety soon filled my life to such an extent, that I could not function properly. My soul was sick. I realised this on a long business trip when the longing for my family took the better of me. I again started to visit the local church and again found great companionship and support. This time I dared to pray directly to God. I asked Him to guide me through this difficult time. For the first time in my life I relinquished control of my life to someone else. The serenity I have experienced and guidance I have received since then has been very reassuring. I trust that He will help me take care of my son and if, He forbid, something were to happen to my son, that He would guide me through that too.

Now, when I am up in the middle of the night checking his sugar levels when he has a cold and the levels go haywire, I know that what I feel, is fear of Him and what He can do and not some clear and present danger that needs my full attention. That knowledge helps me through these kinds of nights and gives me the energy to be able to work the next day. Before I would feel fatigue and undefined uneasiness. Now I am certain that he will not throw anything at me that I cannot handle, with His help.

I long for the day when I can tell my son that, through his ordeal, he helped me find my way to God and that finding Him has made me a more loving, easygoing and confident Dad. I hope I can do the same for him some day.

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