The first nine weeks of Titus’s life were fraught with uncertainty. The doctors knew there was a lot of things wrong with him, but they couldn’t figure out what. The doctors at the RVI tossed around several ideas and ordered various tests to determine what may be wrong with our precious son. One particularly dark night in Newcastle, Leon and I sat on the floor outside our door in hospital accommodation in tears. I’d just arrived back from the ward traumatised by what a doctor on the ward told me. He explained to me they suspected Titus had biliary atresia. He then went into detail of what an operation to repair Titus’s liver would look like. After spending all day on the ward with Titus, this doctor’s not-so-helpful visit terrified me.
Leon and I needed the space to pray with family and friends while Asher and Eva Joy slept, so we found ourselves on the floor outside our room at Crawford House. We explained to our family, along with close friends, the doctors’ suspicion about Titus’s liver. We sincerely hoped the diagnosis wouldn’t be biliary atresia because it would mean a trip to our third hospital in 6 weeks. To the best of our ability, we prayed that God’s will would be done in ours and Titus’s life.
I shed many tears that evening. But it was the first time in our journey with Titus I remember saying to God, “I don’t like this path, but Your will be done, oh God.” It was the beginning of submission to our suffering.
The week we received the news that there was nothing more the doctors could do for Titus, I was in disbelief. Can there really be nothing more done? The doctors aren’t going to look for anything else wrong with Titus? We grieved that day, but we also learned to submit to our suffering. God finally gave us peace after 9 weeks of unknowns. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult to watch our son die. The 4 weeks that followed that day were still incredibly difficult, but God gave us peace because we submitted to His will.
Human nature causes us to kick and scream against anything that isn’t what we have perfectly planned. We can turn from God and His ways, or we can acknowledge the path God has us walk and submit to Him daily. I felt like a part of my heart died after we received Titus’s prognosis. I was angry with God. I’m glad He can handle our anger. I didn’t want to accept this journey God had us on. I struggled to keep going. God has given me supernatural peace over Titus’s prognosis. It was a relief there would be no more surgeries, but I continue to have mixed emotions throughout this journey.
Submission isn’t something we like in our culture. We want to be independent, even when we’re going through tough times. Submission doesn’t mean you let someone else walk all over you, no matter how cruel or unfair the other person may be. You may even view God as an unjust person who forces us to go through difficult times because He wants to.
That isn’t God’s character. He lovingly calls you to Himself, especially when you suffer. Suffering happens because sin taints our world, not because God caused the suffering. He aches to see you hurt, and longs for you to submit to His loving care for us. I know it’s hard to submit to God when all you want to do is angrily shout your frustration to God. He’s well acquainted with sorrow and grief (Isaiah 53:3). He watched his beloved Son die a cruel death on the cross.
But there is a ray of hope.
There’s a difference between merely surviving suffering and submitting to it. It’s difficult to come to terms with the road God has you walk. You can choose to say, “Your will be done, oh God.” Or you can choose to let God say to you, “Alright, have it your way then.” There is freedom in submitting to God amidst suffering and asking Him to let His will be done in your life.
The road of suffering is hard. It tests your faith. My family continues to walk the road of suffering in the grief after the death of our son. It’s hard. I know. But I also know that if you submit to your suffering and fall into the loving arms of our loving Father God, He’ll comfort you. He’ll give you peace. He will never fail you because this difficult journey you’re on isn’t a surprise to Him.
“Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want.” 1 Peter 4:1-2 (The Message)
“So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you.” 1 Peter 4:19 (NLT)
I can confidently say that God is faithful, even when you can’t see it. It sounds like a platitude, but it’s the truth.