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.”
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.
–Hebrews 12:7, 10
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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