Suffer Well



"I'm Third" Kids

Happy and optimistic New Year from your old one leg grandpaw from my Kanakuk winter home. I’m loving one leg and having fun climbing a new mountain. Not many 71 year olds get as fun of a challenge at my age to get to coach our Kamp kids and staff on one leg! I am super blessed in so many ways I can’t count them.

One of my K-2 Kampers that I’ve done some bible studies with in our “I’m Third Discipleship” blew out his knee during football season. He asked me, “What do I do?” I responded, “Suffer well.” It went straight to his heart and that’s exactly what he did. Knee surgery hurts a lot! Missing a football season for an aspiring athlete hurts a lot!

Some kids suffer well. Some suffer poorly.

What is a parent to do when your child suffers? It is so hard to watch our children hurt! We’d rather be hurt ourselves! But, how we view our child’s injury and how we treat our suffering child has a lot to do with how our children suffer.

If you want your children to suffer well, first and foremost, show them how to suffer well. We teach our children how to live, and we show them how to die. After 25 surgeries, bone marrow leukemia biopsies, and living on the edge of death since my kids were in school, God has provided me with lots of opportunities to teach them how to suffer. Wow! Life gets crazy!

For me, when death knocks on my door, two bible verses have brought tremendous courage. When leukemia first showed up in my blood, II Corinthians 12:9-10 and II Corinthians 4:10 were exactly what I needed to suffer in faith and maintain a positive outlook on the “preciousness” of each day I live.

“And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” – II Corinthians 12:9-10

“Always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” – II Corinthians 4:10

More recently, when heart surgery, lung surgery and leg amputation showed up and threw me into the hospital for several painful weeks, the 23rd Psalm of David and Psalm 91 literally carried me through in flying colors.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters…” (You know the rest. 😊) “…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me…”

Meditating on and being encouraged by God’s amazing word brings immeasurable positivity in suffering.

And, if that’s not enough, when I hurt and I’m tempted to get discouraged, I picture Jesus getting scourged and dying on a cross for me and I realize that my tiny bit of suffering is nothing compared to His. So how can I possibly whine?!

I was recently asked if my leg was getting better and I replied honestly, “Not really, but I am getting better!” Suffering brings out the best in us if we suffer well.

Second, when your kids are hurting, just be there. It’s not so much what you say (because kids often rebuff our “advice”) it’s that you show up with warmth and empathy (Seeing with the other person’s eyes, hearing with the other person’s ears, and caring with the other person’s heart.)

Third (and oh so important) embrace the age old wisdom of those who went before us. Pain builds godly character. Pain transforms boys into mature young men and girls into godly young women. There is no substitute! Pain and loss are catalysts for Christian growth. Pain and loss (when we help our kids view it from a positive biblical perspective) develops strong godly character and destroys entitlement.

Be there, care deeply, but don’t inhibit suffering from doing its invaluable work in your child’s heart.

Today I met with one of our treasured employees, Aaron Webber, whose middle school son is a Type 1 diabetic. Aaron talked about how resilient and steadfast his son was. He marveled how his son brought boldness and positivity to the entire family. I’ve heard the same story countless times from parents with children struck with cancer, broken bones, athletic injuries, genetic disabilities and various diseases. The parents are almost always role models of faith. The siblings are almost always the most abounding in lovingkindness.

Romans 5:3-5 says it best, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

With “one foot in Heaven” (literally) I can honestly say, God is good all the time.

Kids don’t need perfect parents, they just need faithful parents.

Much love from K-Land,

Joe White

KEYWORDS: Behavior, Spiritual Identity, Purity, Relationships, Family,