A Child’s Illness

Monday, March 20, 2006
A Child’s Illness

[God] said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains that I shall show you.” —Genesis 22:2

Whenever I hear people talk about preparing for pandemic flu or protecting themselves from a bio-terrorism attack, I remember my reaction to the first major illness in one of my children. My second son, Isaac, was hospitalized for severe dehydration when he was two and a half years old. My first reaction was total panic, at the loss of control over the health and live of my beloved son as I looked at his listless body at 4 A.M. in the morning. As I drove to the hospital, my next reaction was one of guilt because I had failed to be the perfect parent and protect him from the virus that had infected his body. I started to pray frantically to God to make sure that Isaac did not die, but I did not achieve any peace of mind.

Somewhere in the hectic days and nights of his hospitalization, I thought of the story of Abraham and the biblical Isaac in a new way. The so-called test of Abraham was whether he could love his son when it appeared his son’s life was threatened and his death seemed imminent. My frantic prayer for my own Isaac’s health was transformed into a prayer to God to give me the strength to face whatever I had to face. This prayer of humility, forcing me to give up my notion of control and perfection, finally brought me peace of mind.

God, during this Lenten season, help us to respond to the threat of illness and death of those we love, not by seeking control over the imperfect world, but by seeking the power of your love.

Larry I. Palmer