Comfort in the Bitter Face of Disease

Family stood by on Face Time, while we held our breath and stared at that ultrasound screen. “It’s a boy!” Everyone erupted into cheering. Not that the cheering would have been more or less for a girl, we were ecstatic to learn something, anything about this long awaited little one.

I remember being struck with his newness. Untouched by sin, fear, and pain. So safe, as God’s deliberate hands knit him together.

Two weeks later with heavy hearts we stared at an ultrasound screen again. Knowing that our son’s feet were twisted with clubfoot, we waited to hear if any other commonly accompanying factors were at work. I froze, wishing I could make sense of those little limbs swinging in and out of focus on the screen. “He’s healthy otherwise. No other concerns.” My fingers intertwined with my husbands, thawed, and relief washed over us.

As my heart processed in the following weeks I wrestled with the pain, discomfort, and many doctor’s appointments that would claim a piece of my baby’s infanthood. Still, I realized in many parts of the world with less access to medical care my son would have known a life-long crippling.

This brought me comfort yet; even a life-long crippling would not be the end. For God’s goodness and sovereignty will always loosen the bone chilling fingers of fear that threaten to strangle our peace and praise.

But as my heart clawed it’s way towards the Solid Rock, I was struck with the reality of sin.

“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Psalm 51:5

Our son was not untouched by the effects of sin on this world. Something else was present there in his first months. Even the womb is not a sanctuary from sin. There is only one haven from sin and He is Christ.

Before sin and death reigned, creation was perfect. There was no heartache, no violence in nature, and no disease. Everything existed in perfect harmony with God. When Adam and Eve turned from God in mistrust and pride they represented humanity. For through this one man sin entered the world, and death came through sin, and so sin spread to all men (Romans 5:12).

Every departure from God’s perfect creation is the result of sin. My son’s feet are only a more obvious expression of the reality of his heart. The reality that will threaten to crush my heart and keep me fervent in prayer every day until it is untrue, he is an object of God’s wrath.

In all the chubby glory of his toothless grin and dimpled cheeks he desperately needs Jesus to save him. If not those beautiful feet can only run him away from God.

But, the cross ravaged sin’s final win. Christ died for us, becoming a child of wrath in our place. He absorbed our full punishment of wrath and death once and for all. Christ shut up death’s boasts through the cross as “he rendered powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).

Now we groan along with creation as we await the final deliverance when Christ comes to make all things new. We will stand as witnesses as sin loses its violent hold on creation.

Yes, we were born into this fate of sin. But we were reborn as sons and daughters of God through Christ. This is the strength of our soul in a world filled with the maddening effects of sin.

Wherever these words find you, I pray that he is your comfort in the bitter face of disease. That he will ready your hands for war as you battle the unsettling desires in your heart that threaten to drag you away into temptation. I pray he will remind you that all he does is perfect and good. I pray that as you wait to meet him face to face you will be assured with David that we shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of living.

And may we persevere until “the saying that is written will come true ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” And all the sons and daughters of God will cry in unison, “Where O death, is your victory? Where O death is your sting?”

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Published October 26, 2015