Two years ago my daughter, Karis, was struggling in school. She couldn’t concentrate properly, was having vision problems, constantly battling an insatiable thirst, and constantly going to the restroom. After finally putting the puzzle pieces together, we made the trip to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta on a Sunday evening where my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Our fears were confirmed that night, but it was merely the beginning of the roller coaster that would follow. Type 1 diabetes is not the same as Type 2 diabetes. In fact, they’re quite different. Type 1 diabetes is not necessarily contracted due to family history or poor eating habits. Type 1 diabetes can fall out of the clear blue sky upon a healthy individual in the midst of a healthy family. It’s also different in the sense that the pancreas has completely failed and no longer produces insulin which is not the case with Type 2 diabetes. During these two years, we’ve learned much more than the differences between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and those lessons bring glory to God.
God’s Grace in my Family
This may sound cliché, but it’s true – I have a wonderful family. I have watched our family walk through this journey of diabetes together. We’ve all learned to look at life as a gift from God. The Lord was more than gracious by giving me my wife – Kari. I often tell her that she is the best wife in the world, but those words aren’t just flattery, they’re true. Kari is consistently and faithfully laboring to manage our daughter’s diabetes. As a homemaker and homeschool mother (and occasional blogger, you can read her article on the first anniversary of Karis’ diagnosis here), she is the primary caretaker for our daughter’s health. Night and day, my wife is constantly caring for our little girl (who is quickly becoming a big girl). Not one time has my wife questioned God or blamed God for not caring for our daughter. I’ve learned to love my family more, to count the blessings of Karis’ life daily, and to love and appreciate my wife more each day through this journey of diabetes.
In the hospital, we learned to manage this disease through the standard system consisting of blood sugar checks around the clock and manual shots before each meal. We practiced drawing insulin from a vile and giving shots in the hospital’s crash course during the week of hospitalization at the time of Karis’ diagnosis. We quickly found ourselves in our home, doing these checks around the clock, and rotating on shot duty. Within a short time, our daughter decided that she wanted to do it herself. Soon enough she was giving herself the majority of her own shots. This process would continue through the first year until she received her pump and Dexcom glucose monitoring system. Now, through modern technology, we can monitor her blood sugar with an application on our iPhone and give insulin through her advanced pump – all without multiple shots and finger pricks per day. God has been gracious to allow this great advancement in modern technology. In the days prior to the 1920s, Type 1 diabetes was a death sentence. Today, with modern technology, we can treat and manage this disease more efficiently than ever before. This is certainly due to the grace of God.
God’s Grace in His Providential Protection
Several months ago, our daughter Karis experienced a dangerous low blood sugar crash resulting in a seizure, emergency Glucagon shot, and an ambulance trip to the hospital. I wrote about the providence of our God and His protection upon our daughter after that horrible event. Each day as I look at my phone and chart my daughter’s blood sugars, I’m reminded of God’s providence over life and death. He is the God who gives and takes away. Not a single bird falls from the sky nor does one single hair fall from our head apart from the sovereignty of God. As I think about life before the management ritual of Type 1 diabetes and compare it to our life today, it’s a grace that God has gifted to our family in allowing us to see God’s unique and meticulous providence at work on a daily basis. We all hate diabetes and pray for a cure, but through this disease we as a family have learned to love God and trust Him.
In the wake of tragedy and pain, we often seek answers from God that will never be revealed in this life. We often find ourselves demanding answers from God. The raw emotions that draw out such questions are not necessarily sinful, but can cross a line of sin if a person is not careful. I’m not sure why God allowed my daughter to develop this awful disease. I don’t have all of the answers that I would like, but I’m also reminded that I’m not God. As I reflect on these two years, I’ve never seen my daughter complain about the diabetes routine or question her God. As the father of a daughter with Type 1 diabetes, I can say that God is using this disease for His glory in my life and the life of my family.
- We are grateful for the gift of life (James 1:17).
- We are blessed by the gift of family (Psalm 127:3-5).
- We are reminded of the frailty of life, so we aim to build our family on the foundation of the gospel that never fails (Psalm 136:1-2; Rom. 8:35-39).
- We are thankful for God’s providence (Matt. 10:29; Matthew 6:25-34).
- We are appreciative for good technology (James 1:17).
- We learn to place our trust in the Lord of glory (Psalm 146:3-5).
The day of my daughter’s diagnosis started with church in the morning followed by an unexpected trip to the hospital for the diagnosis. That day ended with the two of us snuggled up together in the hospital bed reading Romans 8 and with tears rolling down my cheeks, I assured my little girl on the strong foundation of God’s Word that she had nothing to fear. At the time of her diagnosis, Karis was a new Christian and she needed to trust in the Lord who saved her from sin to now save her from diabetes. We’ve learned some big lessons and we serve a God who is bigger than diabetes.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. — (Romans 8:35-39 ESV)