When you have different plans?

Before my wife and I married, we did not entertain thoughts of having children. I was all too familiar with the struggles of life in this world and I did not want to bring a child through any of that. As unselfish as that sounds, I knew I was held back by my fears of having to raise a child responsibly, something I was very uncomfortable and felt ill-equipped to do.

My perspective gradually changed with the encouragement of the people around me. One day, my pastor told me pointedly that “your union should produce life” and I felt convicted of my self-centeredness. I became open to having a child of my own and was elated when my wife was pregnant. However, that joy was short-lived.

My wife suffered a miscarriage. It was hard to come to terms with the disappointment and shock of this turn of events. While my wife and I were grieving over the loss of our child, I was inundated with diagnostic advice from friends which did not help at all. Yet the most comforting response came simply as “I understand because I went through it.” Along the way, I met others who had similar experiences and their empathy strengthened us and gave us the courage to try having another child.

“Hearing the sound of a heartbeat moved me to tears.”

Hearing his heartbeat was the most precious moment for me as a first-time father at 42 years old, especially since we did not experience that during the first pregnancy. Eventually holding him in my arms, God made a way for me to experience fatherhood and used this to make me a better person.

One of the most challenging points of being a father came when my wife contracted cancer.“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.”
–Hebrews 12:7, 10
The chemotherapy treatment caused her immune system to weaken and I had to single-handedly take care of my family. It was physically and mentally straining and I could not do it by myself.

During this difficult time, I experienced the selfless love from a community when I needed it most. People from my workplace and church willingly gathered to offer practical help by cooking meals and cleaning the house for us. I was deeply humbled and encouraged by this gesture of unconditional love towards my family. I felt God’s love through their actions, which greatly motivated me to persevere through my struggles.

“Me, good enough as a father? Not in this life.”

Looking back on my life, I still hope for a smooth-sailing journey. Yet I am certain that I would still be the self-centered person that I was if not for the setbacks along the way. Just like a good father, God disciplines with love. The challenges gave me opportunities to grow to be a better person and father.

I will always be an imperfect father as much as I desire to be perfect. But I am thankful that I can look to God, the best model of a Father who loves unconditionally.

Watch Mark's story (shortened) with Chinese subtitles

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