Ask Your Preacher
My son is dying a horrible, long lasting death of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). I have been a Christian my whole life and an active staff member in the church. My whole spiritual world has been rocked by watching my son suffer day after day with nothing in sight except a horrible death. My question is: I have been taught my whole life that God answers prayers. That is not true. God can heal. Yes, He can, but it is just a matter of whether or not He will. God doesn't like to watch His children suffer. Then why does He let us?
Dear Mad Mom,
We are so sorry for your son's suffering, and we cannot fathom the pain it has wrought for you as well. Sickness is a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden. One of the curses of their sin was that we all must face our own mortality – life is finite (Gen 2:17). Sickness, disease, and pain are a part of the human existence. Sadly, this is true even for our children. When God gave us freewill, He gave us the right to cause problems for ourselves and others, and if He simply removed all the consequences for our actions, He would be removing our freedoms as well.
God could have made us without the freedom to choose, but then we wouldn’t be “in His image”… we would be automatons. As a parent, you have seen how the freewill of our children can break our hearts sometimes, and it can be difficult to see your children hurt when they make choices that have painful consequences. From scraped knees to heartaches, parents watch their children get hurt when they leave the nest and strike out on their own. God has that same parental paradox (Heb 12:9-10) – the love to let us choose even when those choices have caused all sorts of problems for us. Your son is suffering because of the diseases mankind’s choices have brought upon us.
I have the most wonderful son in the world; he is seven and has Down syndrome. My question is: after he dies and goes to heaven, will he still have Down syndrome, or will he be like us?
Down syndrome is a body issue, not a soul issue. Your wonderful son is a soul (Gen 2:7); he has a body. When we die, our spirit separates from our body (Jas 2:26). At that moment, your son will never again face the health issues he does now.
Three years after my wife and I got married, she had an affair and got pregnant. I stayed with her even though I had some struggles accepting the fact she cheated on me. I accepted the baby because I am unable to have children. It was our only child. Our son recently was killed on a motorcycle through no fault of his own. He was thirty-five years old. My wife and I divorced twenty-two years ago, but we are still friends. My question is: even though he was a great son and a church-going person with his wife who is sixteen weeks pregnant, is my son considered to be an illegitimate child to where he can't enter into the Lord’s congregation? I accepted him as my son, but I can't get this off my mind. Could you give me an answer, so I can clear my mind? I love my son more than I can explain, but I am so confused from what I read. Like I said, he was a church-going person and never gave anyone any problems.
Dear Mourning Father,
We are so sorry for your loss. What a devastating time for your family. Let us give you one comfort – your son is not responsible for the choices that others made that led to his conception. God very specifically says that each person is responsible for their own sins. The entire chapter of Ezekiel 18 deals with this issue. God’s conclusion is that a son can choose his own path regardless of what his parents chose (Ezek 18:20). Each of us works out our own salvation before God (Php 2:12). Your son is not barred from heaven because of his mother’s past. His commitment to Christ will define him on that great Day of Judgment.
How do I take comfort from God when my two adult children are suffering with drug addiction? I have two sons who are throwing their lives away by way of drug addiction. The youngest is in our county jail waiting to go back to prison. My oldest is in Chicago Cook county jail awaiting a charge there. I am constantly fearful for their lives. If they do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, how can I ever have peace? I see their self-destructive behavior, and I feel helpless. I feel guilty as well. Please, any advice would be helpful. I must confess, I have been baptized but do not currently attend church. I believe that may be the first step to helping me. Sometimes, I read Scripture that helps give me strength, but lately, I feel lost. Thank you for any help you may give me.
Dear Heart-Sick Mother,
We are so sorry for your grief and suffering. How you feel is completely normal, and in fact, you might take comfort in reading one of our questions, "A Mother's Grief", written in by a mother who had similar sorrows from her grown children.
You asked us what you can do to take comfort in God... and you are right; going back to church is a big part of that. God tells us that assembling with a faithful church encourages and strengthens us (Heb 10:24-25). You can't change the past, and you can't live your sons' lives for them. This is your reality now, and the best thing you can do for yourself (and for them) is to put your life on the right path. We would be happy to help you find some wonderful, faithful congregations in your area if you'd like. Not all churches are faithful, but we can help get you in contact with one that will help you draw near to God and heal. Just e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hello, I just really need some major advice if you could, please. My family (mom, dad, sister, brother and I) is always fighting. It's beginning to take a huge toll on all of us, and it's becoming all we do. I don't want us to be that way, but I don't know what to do to stop it. I pray that everyone will start being happier with everyone, that everyone will stop fighting and just get along and enjoy our time together. My parents fight a lot, and I'm just worried that it's going to tear this family apart. Do you know anything I can do or say to stop this?
I feel like I'm about to have a mental breakdown. I really do. Everything is just getting to me, and I have no friends at all (I know God and Jesus Christ love me, but I mean, like, people around me). Everyone just thinks of me as a loser or something. I want to be needed and to be someone's best friend. I know this all probably sounds crazy or just a rant, but I just needed to talk to someone that would personally read and answer me. I'm trying to make friends. I'm just afraid that I'm supposed to be alone and friendless all my life. Please help any way possible; a prayer for my family and I would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for taking the time to read this, and again, I'm sorry. God bless.
First of all, you are in our prayers. Fighting within a family is so painful for a child; at least one of our AYP writers knows that first hand. Perhaps the most painful part is the feeling of helplessness that the children are left with. There isn’t anything you can say to fix it, and that is what hurts. We wish we could tell you that there is an easy solution, and if you step in and get involved, it will change everything, but that isn’t true. Sometimes, getting involved can make things worse. Pr 26:17 says that getting in the middle of someone else’s disagreement is like grabbing a dog’s ears. You’ll get bitten every time. Just because you feel you have the solution and see the situation clearer than your parents doesn’t mean that they would be receptive to hearing it. The most likely scenario is that you would add fuel to an already burning fire.
Another thing to consider is that your advice isn’t likely to be accepted by either parent because you are their child. Jesus said that a prophet has respect except amongst his own family and in his own house (Mk 6:4). Time has not made you equals with your parents, and you aren’t in a position to help them – it just isn’t the way life works. This doesn’t mean you are wrong or that you are seeing things incorrectly – it just means they won’t listen because you are the child, and they are the parents. Whether or not you are correct is irrelevant.
But all of this doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do. Jesus’ preaching didn’t affect His family, but His lifestyle did. Multiple times in the Bible it says that Mary saw Jesus’ behavior and “treasured these things in her heart” (Lk 2:19, Lk 2:51). Jesus’ example made a lasting impact upon His family. When you see your parents fighting, calmly walk away. If they ask why – tell them it hurts you. When you have a chance to show respect to your father and love to your mother, do it. As parents, we can tell you that mothers and fathers notice these acts of selflessness and maturity in our children more than they ever know. Many parents have become better people because of the example of their children. You can’t preach to them, but you can live a sermon every day. And most of all, remember that regardless of what your parent’s marriage looks like, it isn’t your fault, and it isn’t your burden. You are only responsible for you, and someday, if you get married, you can apply the lessons you are learning now to change your family tree, so your children don’t need to feel the way you are feeling now.