Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why does my son have to suffer?

My only son, Bobby, has cancer. He was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma less than one month ago. Since that time, he has undergone several tests and treatments (including chemotherapy) that have been painful. He has a central-line in his chest. Now his hair has begun to fall out. Some boys would like this; Bobby does not. He is just now starting to feel better, but next week we have to go back into the hospital for another week so that Bobby can have his second round of chemo. Why does he have to suffer?

Since this is a new blog, I will briefly introduce myself. My name is Eric. I trust in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. I have been blessed by God with a terrific wife and three wonderful children. I am a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. My wife and I were recently serving the Lord overseas when we noticed a lump on Bobby’s neck. After seeing several doctors about this, we decided that we needed to get home to the USA as quickly as possible. Soon after arriving, we found out that Bobby has Burkitt’s Lymphoma. Burkitt’s falls in the family of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas.

Although Burkitt’s is generally treatable, it is still cancer. Although it is a better diagnosis than either Leukemia or Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, it is still cancer. This means many treatments and needles. That means pain. Why does my child have to suffer?

Suffering is an interesting topic to talk about in a seminary classroom. It is altogether different when it strikes your family. For me, suffering went from theory to reality in about a minute. With my child suffering, many questions jumped to my mind. These questions included: 1) Why does my child have to suffer? 2) Does God want my child to be healed? 3) How can a perfectly good, perfectly omnipotent God allow my child to suffer? 4) Does God allow or cause suffering? 5) What does all this say about the character of God?

The above questions have obviously been wrestled with by men wiser and more knowledgeable than I am. However, because of the situation my family is now in, I wanted to deal with these issues.

Most likely, we will all experience different types and intensities of suffering if we live more than a few years. The temptation in our individualistic, self-focused society is to draw our conclusions (and answers to the above 5 questions) from our life experiences. However, this will lead to a multitude of answers. Is that what we want? More important, is that accurate and correct?

Clearly, the answers to these five questions cannot be drawn from experience. It is important that we all get our answers from a much more reliable, truthful source. That source, of course, in the scriptures. But, what does the Bible have to say about suffering?

A key in all of this is that we should try to deal with this issue before we are in the midst of suffering and pain. When we hurt, it is far too easy to look at our own situation, and then blame God for being unfair.

I will attempt to tackle these five questions in upcoming blog entries. If you have any input, please let me know. I’ll conclude with the following:

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” I Peter 4:12-13


Maël said...

Welcome to the blogging world Eric.

I look forward to reading your thoughts. You ask very good questions which I wish you would not have to ask. Nevertheless I look forward to reading your answers.

Alan Knox said...


Welcome to the blogosphere! It will be good to interact with you a little more - though not as much as we once did. As you know, we love you and your family, and we're praying for you.


Stephen Orr said...

Eric, I found your blog via a link on Dave Black's website, and I wanted to write and assure you that my family and I will be in faithful prayer for your son and your entire family. If there is anything else that we can do, please email me and let me know. May the Lord bless and strengthen you during this time, and may He be glorified, and may He use this trial to draw you closer to Him in knowledge and intimacy.

Eric said...

Stephen, Thank you so much for praying for our family. We appreciate it so much. God has been incredibly gracious to us throughout all of this. We pray that He will be glorified as He should be. Quite frankly, watching Bobby have cancer is difficult, but we know that God orchestrates all things, and that is a great comfort.