When Our Kids Are in Pain
We had a little memorial service for Bubbles the fish this morning. He was not quite two.
My daughter, Macy, loves God’s animals. She’s wanted to be a veterinarian ever since I can remember, and I think it’s the kind of childhood dream that just might become reality someday.
But today was a sad day at the Bennett home, as we laid to rest a little betta fish that has been a part of our family for nearly one-fifth of Macy’s life. (I’m told that’s a pretty long life for one of these little fish.)
When drawing a picture of our entire family, Macy would include Bubbles in her colorful, detailed pictures. Of course she would. She fed “Bubs” daily for the last 600-plus days, and helped change the water in his bowl regularly. Bubbles was a part of our family. So, today is a sad day indeed.
It’s one of those times as a dad where you wish you could protect your precious child from painful things like death—or, really, anything that would make her deeply sad. And you’re left with the helpless reality that you can’t protect her from being hurt…from crying…or from grief.
One of the most memorable, challenging messages I’ve ever heard on this subject came from talented worship leader Danny Oertli. In describing the catalyst for his song “Thought You Should Know,” Danny relayed this same desire to keep his child safe from anything that might harm him. He said he used to pray that nothing physical, spiritual or emotionally damaging would occur.
But one night, Danny realized that his prayer needed to be amended. He began to think about his own life, and how the most sacred times that he’d had with God—almost without fail—were in times of difficulty, pain and struggle. In that moment, he didn’t want his children to be safe. He just wanted them to love Jesus.
It’s impossible to live a pain-free life, or to shield our kids from all trouble. In fact, praying for God to protect our kids from pain does not bring them any closer to Him.
One of the toughest aspects of being a dad is that, as our children’s earthly father, we simply can’t keep all pain away. We can walk with them through that pain. And, more than that, we can direct our children back to our Heavenly Father, who is always there for us, offering His comfort in those moments of difficulty.
As the author C.S. Lewis told us, it’s during painful moments that we are perhaps most reminded that we need God to direct our paths: “[P]ain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Written by Rich Bennett