From the moment they welcome the new little life into the world, parents want nothing more than to never let anything harm their children.
At the same time, parents pray they never need to look into their child’s tear-moistened eyes and explain that dad and mom can’t explain why something bad is happening – or perhaps more importantly, why they can’t stop it from happening or make the resulting simply pain go away.
But all parents know that moment will come; it’s only a matter of when.
However, in such moments, the true love of a parent is allowed to shine through.
Perhaps it will be sitting with a sick child through a long night of stomach problems. Or sharing an ice cream and imparting cheer after a failed exam or a lost soccer match. Or wiping the tears and offering reassurance of their value after they were picked on at school for their faith. Or offering a shoulder to cry on after a heartbreak.
Sometimes, however, the tears may come because our child is reaping the consequences of their own actions or experiencing what we may euphemistically call “growing pains” – those distasteful experiences that are just part of maturing and transitioning from one stage to the next.
But in those moments, we find our children truly come to know us; not the “us” who inhabit their imaginations – whether the superheroes of their early lives or the ogres and tyrants of their later childhood - but the people who love them and desire the best for them, and wish to always be there for them.
In the same way, the Bible tells us we have a Heavenly Father who similarly desires only the best for us.
Just as a human parent would never choose to give their children a disease, or break their children’s hearts, or intentionally cause their children to suffer, our Father, even much more so, does not inflict the pain upon us.
Yet, there are times we suffer. Perhaps we or loved ones may fall ill. Or we may lose jobs, homes, friendships and marriages. Or those we love most may die.
Sometimes, we know God can and does move in the present to heal and deliver us from those troubles, rushing in to make the suffering disappear with a wave of His hand or a word from His lips.
But other times, we know God allows nature to take its course – leaving us to wonder why.
As Pastor Bryan put it last Sunday, sometimes God will deliver us from our situations; other times, He will deliver us through our situations.
Amid the myriad promises of Scripture, there is Jesus, The Word Made Flesh, God With Us, promising His disciples two things: 1) In this world, they will have trouble; and 2) He is with us. Always.
Know that no matter what you are going through at this moment, God is with you, now and forever, beyond gain or loss, beyond happiness or sorrow, beyond health or pain, even beyond life or death.
And know that He loves you and desires only the best for you – and He always will.