On Disease and Suffering, Pt. III – The Breaking Point

Reflections on the age old question of how a good God can allow disease and suffering in this world. This will be part III in however many posts it takes for me to write about how God has responded to my questions over the last few years.

The breaking point came in April 2017. It had been a year and a few months. We had finally felt like we were reaching a new normal of sorts, having learned how to manage my son’s allergies and getting into a routine. We had also experienced the birth of our daughter, which breathed new life and beauty into our lives. Though my heart was wounded, my hands were full, and there were new joys and experiences that occupied my mind.

When my son fell ill that April, we thought it was just any other cold. But it quickly took a turn for the worse, and the days that followed were one brutal thing after another. So much happened, that I will just break it down in timeline form:

  • Monday: ER visit after 3 days of being sick and he started having trouble breathing. Diagnosed with pneumonia. Since the hospital was full and Daniel was a doctor, they suggested he go home for us to monitor him. (ER visit #1)
  • Tuesday morning: He is feverish, lethargic, and in tons of pain. Crying when he can muster up the energy. 6 hours after getting home, he has a seizure in my arms. 5 minutes that felt like an eternity. Paramedics come and it’s back to the ER. (ER visit #2)
  • Tuesday night: Finally back home. Administer the meds. Turns out, he’s allergic to amoxicillin. Back to the hospital. (ER visit #3)
  • Thursday: He’s back home. He’s having trouble eating because of how sick he is. We pick up a “safe” baby food so he can get some nutrition. We learn the hard way about cross-contamination. His reaction is so severe that we are forced to epi-pen him for the first time. Back to the ER. (ER visit #4)
  • Monday: He eats a baby food that he’s had in the past that has been safe. But has another severe reaction that requires the epi-pen. This would be the 5th time in the hospital within the span of a week. (ER visit #5)

That was it. I had had enough. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had reached my breaking point. And I was pissed.

Paramedics arriving, as captured on our security cameras. There is nothing scarier than seeing your child unresponsive.
One of the many painful sleepless hospital nights that week

Deja vu with the paramedics, this time after his first anaphylactic allergic reaction.

I almost didn’t want anything to do with God. In fact, the first few days, I had refused to tell any friends from church, because I didn’t want anyone to pray for us.

But when those anaphylactic reactions happened, I had to reach out for some help. It was getting to a point that I was worried I was going to lose it. And even though I didn’t want prayer, I knew I needed support if I was going to be able to be well enough to take care of my kids. I shared what was going on and allowed friends to share supportive words, prayers, and support us in practical ways. And when things settled down, I also began the search for a therapist.

I had too many questions:

  • Why was this happening to us?
  • Why were we being confronted with life-threatening situations over and over again, despite our best efforts to protect our child?
  • Why was God allowing this?
  • Why did my son have allergies?
  • Why is there even disease in this world?

And what particularly pained me…

  • Why won’t God heal him? If He loves to heal and He can do it in an instant, then why didn’t He do so?
  • Why would God invest so much to create such beautiful children, only to have them suffer? Or even to die?
  • If God supposedly loves my son more than I do, then why isn’t He doing everything He can the way I am to keep him safe and alive?
  • And if God supposedly loves me, how could He hurt and harm my children – my whole heart – which was worse than anything that could happen to me?

That was it. The worst part of all. The God that I thought I knew all those years, who had carried me through so much, who had saved me in so many ways – it suddenly felt like I didn’t really know who He was at all. I felt hurt. Blindsided. Exposed. Possibly even fooled. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it, and as much as I had tried, it was getting to a point when I no longer could push through it.

To be continued:

Part IV: The Start of a New Narrative

Part V: God Begins To Speak

Part VI: Some Emerging Theology on Disease

Part VII: Some Conclusions (Though Always An Ongoing Work-In-Progress)


Part I: Losing Our First

Part II: Life In Constant Threat

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