I remember being childless.
I remember thinking things about my parent-friends.
Things like, "What's wrong with them/their kids? They are ALWAYS sick! Maybe the parents are hypochondriacs?"
And, now I have no doubt the same is said about us. We are currently sitting in the ER waiting for test results to tell us why he is still spiking 105 degree fevers after four days of antibiotics for an ear infection and why his neck is swollen.
The reality is, you can breast-feed forever or never feed your child junk food, but those things are not sovereign over sickness. The Lord is.
(***As a caveat, let me say, we have been so blessed that our little guy has not had a any life-threatening illness. I am by no means trying to elevate our dealings with normal childhood illness to be something more. What we deal with doesn't come close to what other parents deal with who's children face serious life threatening issues. My heart breaks for them and I can't even fathom what they go through.)
It has become rather obvious to me that having a sick child is greatly used by the Lord to reveal any idolatry of my child that is within my heart. I know it is normal for parents to be anxious, to think, "What if?" to be frustrated when physicians or medication don't offer a quick fix, to think "I should have done something differently" (IE - not put them in nursery, took them to the doctor sooner, given them more/different/no meds), and to entertain thoughts of self-pity.
Yes, these may be common thoughts and feelings that all parents have as they try to care for their sick child the best they can, but they are common because our hearts are so prone to idolatry. Especially idolatry of our children.
How quickly I forget that the Lord is in control, not us. How quickly I forget that this child is a blessing from God, not a burden. How quickly I forget that each opportunity to care for my sick child is an opportunity to deny myself and put someone else first. How quickly I forget that I am blessed that the Lord has been gracious that our child has not battled with something life threatening. How quickly I take my eyes off the Lord and put it on doctors, medicine, my child and myself.
As parents we have a responsibility to care for him - to provide him with medical care and medication if needed. These are not bad things; they are necessary things. But, when my heart becomes crowded with thoughts and anxiety that reveal I think this is in MY control or question "Why us?" I am dealing with an issue of idolatry. My child's wellness has over-shadowed my faith in the Lord to do all things for good.
Please, do not hear me say we should not act to care for our child when they are sick. We absolutely should. However, we shouldn't give in to the temptation to sin in the process. I shouldn't worry. I shouldn't play the "what if" or the blame game. I shouldn't snap at others who are trying to help. All of these reveal something gone awry in my heart - idolatry and a lack of faith in a completely Soveriegn God.
A friend texted me after I shared with her the details of our recent sickness, "Oh, friend! How the Lord must love you!"
She sure is right. He loves me immensely to teach me the many lessons in sanctification that come along with parenting a "sick kid."