Friday night, he experienced three terror-stricken hours of hallucinating spiders slowly crawly toward him. His eyes, locked wide onto these invisible terrors, caused physical pain in my chest as Dave and I held him and whispered urgent truth to him. "Those aren't real. The medicine is playing tricks on your eyes. They cannot hurt you. You are safe." After several minutes of battling these lying apparitions, we were able to convince Atticus to close his eyes and tell us about all the things he is thankful for. His list was long. His ability to move so quickly from a place of darkness to his love for skateboarding and his thankfulness for all his friends was remarkable.
All of that was extremely painful to watch, but the worst was hearing him recount his "unanswered" prayer. "Mom, I asked God to make it stop. Why didn't he answer me?" This is the cry of every person who lives and yet hearing my child's plea for mercy sliced my heart. How many times just this year have I wondered the same thing. Where are you God and why aren't you making this better?
And yet, seeing this play out in the 5 year-old-version has helped me see the answer a bit clearer. Why didn't the hallucinations stop when Atticus prayed for help? If it is true that the medicine is effecting his body this way, he will continue to have them until his body has been detoxified. That is just the reality of our broken bodies and a broken medical system. There is suffering in the world. Does this alone mean that God is being apathetic to our pain, because he does not relieve it? Where was God while Atticus was suffering? I believe he was with me and Dave, broken-hearted watching him and moving toward him to ease it. God was present in the love we had to offer Atticus, the wisdom Dave had in giving clear direction to Atticus (Close your eyes. Listen to us), the relief he brings every morning when the sun comes up. The sun made the spiders go away and I know who commands the sun.
How painful and exhausting it is to see your children suffer. Even more painful is watching them work out their faith. I know this will be a life long journey for him. I can speak in, but I am not in control. I want him to believe, to trust in God's love for him, but I also want God to make it easier for him. I see my own wrestling while I watch my five year old wrestle. I want to believe that when I call, he will answer.