Sick Kids and Empty Graves
By Trevor King
Recently, my wife and I endured another sleepless night with sick children. Both of our girls were sick and, being extremely young, couldn’t have any medicine to help alleviate their symptoms. This kept them both up, which kept us up. On top of that, our youngest was teething, which meant endless fits of crying for days. Even when moments of silence miraculously occurred, we both heard their cries in our ears.
After numerous nights awake with a sick and teething toddler, tensions were high. I’d like to say that we never lost our cool. I’d like to say we were exemplars of grace and compassion at every moment. But that wasn’t the case. We were stressed, exhausted, and frustrated. Sadly, even looking at the sweet face of a tired, sick, and hurting baby, it was hard not to be frustrated with her for not sleeping and not letting us sleep. In moments like this, I’m often reminded of something a professor of mine used to repeat: “People and circumstances don’t determine your behavior; they only give you an opportunity to reveal what’s in your heart.” And in those moments, it becomes clear that my heart is a wreck.
Maybe you can identify with us. Perhaps it’s comforting to know that none of us are alone in those moments. Life can be hard, and the day-in and day-out parenting challenges can sometimes feel overwhelming, especially when sleep is elusive and the sound of crying babies becomes the soundtrack to our lives.
During this bout of crying and sickness, when I felt utterly overwhelmed, I was reminded of a passage in the Bible that points to God as our comforter in times of difficulty. And in reading that passage, I was drawn to one verse in particular:
“Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).
It’s easy to dismiss this verse as inapplicable amid the challenges of first-world life. Most of us don’t feel like we’ve received the “sentence of death” (even though multiple nights with a crying baby might make us think otherwise). So bringing this verse to bear might seem overly dramatic, but I don’t think it is.
Life is hard, and in a fallen world, as fragile beings, we can feel overwhelmed. The pain points of life can feel crushing. Sometimes it feels like things are as bad as they can get. When we feel defeated, we identify with Paul. It is right and good to honestly confess that life is hard. Things are not the way they are supposed to be, and we feel it in sickness, soreness, sleeplessness, and sorrow (you’re welcome for that).
But we also see in this verse several truths that comfort our hearts:
God is sovereign over our afflictions.
Paul is quick to remind us that God raises the dead. This is a direct reference to Jesus (and perhaps Lazarus), who was raised from the dead. Even in the darkest moments of Jesus’ life, God had not lost control of the situation. Christ’s death was not outside of God’s sovereign plan. God didn’t abandon Jesus in his darkness; so what makes us think he would abandon us in ours? Even when the trials of everyday life feel overwhelming, we can have confidence in the God who watches over us with compassion and love.
God uses our afflictions to teach us to trust him.
Our suffering, though often inexplicable, is not without purpose. Paul writes that they felt the sentence of death so they would trust God in their circumstances. While we may not always understand our afflictions, we know the God above them. We may fear near death, but it reminds us to trust and rest in the God who conquers death.
God promises to comfort us in our afflictions.
This should give us hope in our valleys of darkness. We can find comfort that we are not alone in suffering. We have a Savior who identifies with us in our afflictions. But more than that, we have a Savior who has overcome affliction. He conquered death, sin, sickness, and sorrow, and his victory is ours. Though the momentary darkness seems unrelenting, dawn is coming.
God will deliver us from our afflictions.
When the new dawn appears, when light bursts through darkness finally and with finality, we shall be delivered. Our God raises the dead, and he will raise us. He has promised to deliver us, and he will surely do it. In the next verse, we see the promise that God has delivered and will deliver us: “He has delivered us from such a terrible death, and he will deliver us. We have put our hope in him that he will deliver us again…” (2 Corinthians 1:10). Our greatest enemy is defeated, and we have hope in the daily struggles of life. But more than that, our Deliverer will bring us near to himself, our greatest comfort. In the end, we get Him.
Whatever challenges you face today, if you feel overwhelmed and afflicted, take comfort in the promise that God is sovereignly using your circumstances in ways unseen. In the pit of this broken world and its struggles, lift your eyes upward and trust the God who raises the dead.
The grave could not hold our Savior, and because of him, it shall not hold us.
Trevor is originally from Oklahoma and serves on staff at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Mid-America Christian University as well as a master’s degree and a doctorate from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a fan of good coffee, bookstores, and superheroes. Trevor and his wife, Ashley, raise their daughters in Wake Forest.