My husband has been off work all week and the "do-er" in me wants to go somewhere and take my daughter to do something fun. Of course, I still barely feel like getting out of the house, almost 4 weeks post my injections. My husband reminds me that our daughter doesn't care at this age what we do. She's perfectly content swinging in our backyard or playing play-dough for hours. It's me who struggles with not being able to do things like other mothers.
But even if that day does come and my daughter asks why Mommy can't do things or go places like other moms, how will I respond? Will I encourage her, and my own, self-pity and apologize for my weaknesses? Or will I point her to the truth? Surely God had my daughter's best interest in mind, as well as my own, when my pain became chronic and disabling.
We must remember that God's primary purpose in giving us children, and all things, is for His glory not our own enjoyment (Colossians 1:16, Romans 11:36). God doesn't give us children so we can dress them up in cute outfits and take adorable pictures of them to adorn the walls of our house. Although he does often give us the pleasure of these things, we have to be careful not to let children become our idol or boast in them. They are given to some of us for a short period of time and for a specific purpose.
Our main job in raising children is to instruct them in the ways of the LORD and to love Him and serve Him all their days ( Psalm 34:11, Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4).
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:5-9
More than teaching our children their ABC's or manners, we must teach our children to love God with every part of their being and help them see that He has supreme worth in our life. The love of the Lord should so consume our life that we talk about Him all the time. I may not be able to take my daughter to the zoo, but as I lie on the couch I can look at a book and teach her that God made every animal we see.
What better opportunity than chronic illness to teach our children to fear the Lord (Proverbs 1:7-9)? Our children watch our every move. They are watching how we respond to suffering and pain. Does my daughter see me reading my Bible, praying, and talking of God's goodness despite my circumstances? Or does she only see me crying, depressed, and complaining? Do I take out my anger and frustrations on her, or do I cry out to the One who controls all things?
If my pain continues to keep me debilitated and unable to live the kind of life I had dreamed with my daughter it will not be easy. There is the constant temptation to be jealous, discontent, and to covet the lives of others. But, as a child of God and by His grace, I have to focus on what is true. I have the most important message in all the world to share with my daughter, whether I am in pain or not,---the hope of Jesus Christ (John 14:6), our Savior. And unlike popular belief, it is only through the hard and narrow way that we receive this life (Matthew 7:14).
In the end, when I am in heaven with Jesus, I don't think I will say, "LORD, I wish my life had been easier so I could have enjoyed taking my daughter to the zoo more!" What a ridiculous thought! I hope and pray I will say, "Thank you God, that you allowed chronic pain to enter my life so I could teach my daughter, and learn myself, that YOU are worth so much more than this world can offer."