For Those Who Feel Neglected
One of the most painful ordeals for any family is to experience the serious and chronic illness of a child – or the death of a child. For the parents, having a chronically ill child can be all-consuming. They identify with their suffering youth and agonize over the discomfort and pain he or she endures. They blame themselves for a host of reasons (e.g. passing on a genetic disorder, not being adequate to shield their offspring from suffering, etc.). They also have to gracefully listen to other parents who brag about their children, knowing that their child will never know the joys of such achievement.
The chronic illness of a child will greatly strain the husband-wife relationship. And should their child die, the marriage relationship may die with him. For their grief can be all consuming, leaving husband and wife so disabled that they cannot function as spouses or parents. And fathers and mothers grieve so differently.
But there is one component of the family that is frequently over-looked whenever a chronically ill child is present. It’s the physically healthy children of the family. Throughout the child’s illness, the healthy children are called upon to do the chores and make life as comfortable as possible for their sibling. Plus they are frequently lectured about how fortunate they are not to be as seriously ill as their sibling. And the problems they have at school (e.g. bullying, academic challenges) or the difficulties of adolescence receive no parental attention.
In all fairness to the grieving parents, parents are only human. They’re as limited as any human being. They only have so much patience, love, and nurturing to give and they pour out everything on their suffering child.
As a result the “healthy” children receive little or nothing of the parental love and nurturing they desperately need. So they begin to suffer issues of their own. They grow up feeling angry, resentful, guilty, and emotionally cold and distant. And, of course, that simmering anger and resentment will begin to express itself in hostility and hatred.
In all my years as a pastor and army chaplain I’ve found such suffering families to be the most difficult to help. Every member of the family is hurting and each seems incapable of helping or understanding the needs of the other.
And as I look out upon all that’s unfolding in America I see such a suffering family. Among all of America’s children there are those who seem chronically ill. They’re the ones who always seem to be the victims and underdogs of society. They suffer the injustices of racism and brutality. And our government and culture (I.e. the parents), only have so many resources and pity to give. So all is showered on them.
But there are also the “healthy” children. And they are beset with problems of their own – problems that receive little or no attention. They also suffer the murder of family members and are themselves the victims of crime. They are just as vulnerable to disease, disappointment, tragedy, injustice, and death. Their thoughts are consumed by worries about paying their bills, getting jobs, and helping their fledgling or wayward children. And contrary to what some may think, they have no time whatsoever to scheme and plan for the supremacy of their ethnicity over another. They’re far too deeply buried beneath problems to think of anything but survival.
But for all their suffering, our government and culture neglects them. It doesn’t even acknowledge their challenges and suffering as valid or legitimate. In fact, like the grieving parents who lecture their healthy child on how fortunate they are not to be sick, our government and culture vilifies these so-called “privileged” children of the family. But within these unacknowledged, unsung, and un-validated children of society a storm of resentment and pain is brewing.
Therefore, if many Americans are not joining the march against police brutality towards African American men, please don’t take it as an expression of racism. Most or all of them are far too burdened by work, family responsibilities, health problems, or are themselves victims and have little sympathy left to give. And I suspect that most of them feel far too neglected, ignored, and unloved. They simply don’t have emotional resources to pour out on others. They’re just human beings.
Our nation is a deeply hurting family and all its members are suffering. In fact, we are all so consumed by our own pain that we have little strength to understand or help each other.
Where, then, can our help and salvation come from? Only God can heal our wounded hearts, fill them with His love, and reconcile us to each other. Only God, not government, can remove our nation’s injustices. But if we reject the Prince of Peace, we should expect to find no peace.
Let’s pray for our troubled nation – in which we all hold a critical stake. Yes, we will all share the fate of America. Therefore, it is in all of our interests that America survive and thrive.
PRAYER: Dear Father in heaven, we beseech You according to the blood and merit of Your Son Jesus Christ, that You will please bless the United States of America. We pray for all those who are suffering. Only You feel and understand the full measure of their pain – and only You can relieve it. Please, dear Father, bring healing to their wounded spirits. Bind up their broken hearts. Fill them with Your love, joy, and peace. Please, dear Father, send forth Your Holy Spirit like a mighty wind throughout our land. May Your Spirit breathe a revival into our hearts! Grant that He will breathe into us afresh the breath of life and restore to us life, humanity, and a sense of decency! May Your Holy Spirit be as a prevailing wind throughout our nation, turning our hearts to You in faith and repentance and to each other in love and reconciliation. Divine Prince of Peace, please come and reign over us. Remove injustice from our war-torn land and cause Your justice to fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. Save us, O God, for Jesus’ sake we pray. Amen.