People who know me often ask me this question: “How is your daughter doing?” They fish for information and I let on that it has been a hard but amazing year. Smelling my good courage, the comment that follows is usually “Man I don’t know how you do that.” So today I have decided to write about it.
My daughter Abbey just turned one year old. In her first year of life she has had surgery on a lung, her stomach, and in a month or so, a procedure in her small intestine. She has four scars on her chest, one of them four inches in length. Abbey does not eat and has vomited over 1,000 times in her first year of life, sometimes in her sleep. She is connected to a machine alongside her for about 10 hours of every day. My wife and I have held her down dozens of times, screaming, as we inserted various tubes through her nose and into her stomach cavity. She has been to about 100 doctor and therapy visits, has been anesthetized four times, and has had the equivalent of 887 x-rays in radiation. She is a tiny little girl, and is very cute, and is often quite happy.
We can all relate in some way; life exempts nobody from its inherent struggles. One has a special needs child. Another is unemployed. Another is ill. Still another is divorcing. I find comfort in the Bible because it is a book about people, real people who have real struggles. I find comfort in one Scriptural theme that seems to shine brightly as I plod through my own struggles lately: Perspective.
I have shared about my baby girl. In light of this, my football team losing, my air conditioner breaking, my retirement fund sinking, these all seem to be minor problems, if not infantile. But maybe even what appears to be significant might really be less so.
Jeremiah writes to us of these things. To a group of people that thought they had it pretty bad, he says this: “If you have run with the footmen and they have tired you out, then how will you compete with the horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” (12:5) In other words, if you’re collapsing now when it’s really not as bad as you think, your doom is sure if things get really dicey.
So what if that which I consider to be thicket in my life is, comparatively, a land of peace? It’s all about perspective. We are told to count our blessings and for good reason. I think that most anything this side of eternal damnation is a wonder, be it suffering, illness, loss or grief. For in these things we see a side of God that perhaps we did not see before, or want to see; perhaps part of His glory is heartache, and maybe suffering is a way to fellowship with our Creator. Perhaps I don’t have it that bad at all.
Paul the Apostle certainly understood these things. Beaten, betrayed, shipwrecked, robbed, sleepless, hungry, homeless, burdened and depressed, he groans but is always of good courage, regarding the death about him and inside him to be a light affliction to be followed by some real glory in the not too distant future. May it be so.