If you spend any time around church or studying the Bible, you’re familiar with the idea that God is our “heavenly Father.” There are many parallels that can be drawn between our heavenly Father and our earthly fathers, but the basic principles are that He loves us and calls us His children. And just like our earthly fathers, He provides for us and guides us.
Since I became a parent I have a much greater understanding of this comparison. The immediate and unconditional love that you feel for your child is like no other. Their needs come first. You want the best of everything for them, and you’ll do everything in your power to make it happen.
I recently had an interaction with Maddie that illustrated another parallel in these relationships that I’d never considered before…
Maddie is a picky eater. Sometimes she’s hesitant to try new foods, and even when we find foods that she likes, sometimes she refuses them. In addition, children with 1p36 often have a tough time gaining weight. We’re working with a nutritionist, and I’m ever-conscious of her daily calorie intake.
Even though we try to make meal times a pleasant activity, we find ourselves sneaking food in, and from time-to-time, forcing it. Maddie has a way of refusing the food by buttoning her lips shut, turning her head to the side, and giving me a look that says “Why would you try to make me eat that, Mama? Why are you trying to hurt me?”
Sometimes no amount of singing, playing airplane or other distractions will get her to open her mouth. In those moments, I wish she would understand how much good the food will do for her: It will help her grow big and strong. It will help her sleep better. It will even help her bowel movements. I wish she would understand that I’m not giving it to her to hurt her; I’m giving it to her because it’s good for her and I want what’s best for her. But I can’t explain any of that to her. In her mind, all she can see is that it doesn’t taste good, or it’s new, or that it’s keeping her from doing other things that she wants to do.
One day during this typical struggle, I had a thought: How many times in our lives do we experience a similar interaction with our Heavenly Father? Circumstances or events are not to our liking, and we ask God, “Why are you giving this to me? It’s uncomfortable, it makes me sad, it’s not what I had in mind- it doesn’t “taste good.”
Much like a child, with our limited view points and understanding of the greater plan, we can’t imagine how certain events in our lives could be good for us. And because it’s not to our liking, we do our best to refuse it (most of the time to no avail).
Sometimes it’s years- or maybe even longer- before we understand how our circumstances are woven together for a greater good. But if we understand that God’s loves for us is far greater than even the love that our earthly parents have for us, we need to have faith that His plans are always for our good:
Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
This is a verse that I’ve clung to many times throughout my life. That’s not to say that I haven’t had my days of doubt or confusion- I have! I’ve turned my head away from God and cried “NO, NO NO!” Especially since Maddie’s diagnosis. But the image of a toddler refusing the food that is meant to make her healthy and strong is now burned into my brain. And every time I start to question my heavenly Father about my circumstances, I try to remember that what He has placed in front of me may be just what I need to make me healthy and strong.