Yesterday, my kids were enjoying riding bikes outside when my seven-year-old son came bursting through the door, howling in pain. “My arm, my arm, I can’t feel my arm,” he cried. He writhed in anguish while I called my husband, Kevin, who quickly rushed him to the ER. There he was made to stretch out his broken arm in painful positions for x-rays and wait for hours before seeing a doctor. When he walked through the door at almost 11, the last thing I expected to see was his radiant smile. “How are you, buddy?” I asked, holding him tight, “I was praying for you.”
“Mom,” he grinned, “This was the best day of my life! I got to hang out with Dad and eat chips and watch Ice Age. Daddy bought me a Sprite and a huge Icee, and I was so brave. I got to see pictures of my bones!”
Now, I know chips and Sprite ordinarily make for a pretty great afternoon in my kids’ lives, but the best day of his life? His first serious accident, and he was glowing with joy at the end of the ordeal.
The next morning, our group prayed with Eph 3:14-19:
I kneel before the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. . . . I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
As I reflected on the reading, I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me not to rush past the events of the day before. In prayer, I realized that the best day of my son’s life is a parable of God’s love for me.
Kevin is the most affectionate father I know. Since he generously showers our kids with time, loving words, and service daily, I didn’t realize how the hours in the ER could be particularly special. Then it dawned on me—because of the greatness of this suffering, my husband’s lavish response allowed our son to “grasp how wide and long and high and deep” is Kevin’s love for him.
As Kevin was rushing our son to the ER, I was on my knees begging God for instant and miraculous healing. Instead, I felt God tell me he was doing something special through the pain.
In the midst of the trauma, Kevin was there, compassionate, caring, attentive, fighting for his son to get the help he needed. Our little boy was able to feel his father’s love in a way that surpassed his everyday knowledge of it, and to be filled with joy beyond the pain.
If I were God, I would protect myself and my loved ones from suffering. I am so glad that I am not the Almighty. In suffering, our Father’s love is at times more palpable, and we can grasp it and be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Praise God that as a family we “take our name” from our Heavenly Father! This means that in moments of trial we can reflect God’s love in a particular way to our children, preparing them to understand how deeply he loves them their whole life through. I remember times in my own life where God has been so close to me in the midst of terrible suffering that I almost miss the suffering afterward because of the sweetness of the experience of my Father’s closeness to me. Days when I feel God’s love so fully are the best days of my life, too.