November 25, 2005
It is the day after Thanksgiving. The kids have no school work to do. Our backyard has been blanketed by several inches of snow. The sun is shining, but it hasn’t had much impact on the air temperature. It is deceptively cold outside. This is the first chance of the year to build a snowman, a snow fort, and whatever else the imagination of a child can dream. Right after breakfast the kids asked for, and were given, permission to go walking in the winter wonderland right outside our door. Kaylee, age 9, and Joshua, age 8, got themselves ready rather quickly. I saw the excitement in their eyes and the anticipation on their faces as they added layer upon layer of clothing to their bodies to stay warm. Complete with winter coats, snow pants, hats, gloves, and boots (some of which have gotten surprisingly smaller since last winter!), they rushed out the back door to be the first to leave their marks in the smooth, sparkling snow.
Nathan is 6 years old. He was still trying to finish his breakfast. Hearing the back door closing gave him some extra incentive to keep his spoon moving to scoop up his cereal. He finished his food without any extra prodding (which is unusual), and raced to dress himself in his winter garb. In previous years, Nathan had always needed help getting dressed to go out to play in the snow. This time, he wanted to do it himself. As I watched this painstaking process, a sudden flood of emotion washed over me. In a moment like this, it would be typical for a parent to go into one of those “my baby is growing up” modes, realizing that another part of parenthood is slipping away. But today there was more to it than that. Being the youngest, Nathan tries very hard to keep up with his older brother and sister. Sometimes he can, but many times he can’t. He’s younger than they are; he’s not supposed to be as far along as them. When things don’t come easily, he gets discouraged and wants to give up. (He’s not much different from us, is he?) He struggled to pull on two pairs of pants, two warm shirts, two pairs of socks, and paused to make one comment: “I’m getting hot!”. Trying to put on the rest of his outerwear with multiple layers already on his body would be a challenge. But as I watched, I notice something surprisingly different than what I suspected. Nathan was smiling. He wasn’t pouting or complaining. There were no tears coming from his eyes or whining coming from his mouth. He hadn’t given up. Yes, he was struggling. But he had that genuine, innocent smile that makes a parent feel that all is right in the world and wish that the moment would last forever. No camera could capture a moment like this, but I hope I remember it forever. As he fought with his snow pants and asked himself out loud, “What are you supposed to do with these”, I wanted to ask him, “Nathan, why are you smiling?” But I didn’t need to. I know why he was smiling. He wasn’t dwelling in this moment of difficulty. He was thinking of the fun that was waiting for him when he finally made it through.
This is a very important life lesson. We all face difficulties. It’s easy to whine or complain. It’s normal to feel discouragement. We often feel like giving up. I was reminded of Jesus’ attitude when he faced the most difficult time of his life. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” What enabled Jesus to follow through with his mission to die for the sins of the world? What motivated him to walk his path of suffering and sacrifice? According to Hebrews 12:2, it was for the joy set before him. Instead of focusing on the pain and suffering of the moment, He thought about the joy that awaited Him. His death has brought us life. His blood has washed away our sins. He has opened the doors of heaven by laying down his life in our place. The thought of spending eternity with us brought him such joy that he was willing to endure the humiliating and painful death on the cross. Nathan was willing to struggle through the process of putting on his snow clothes because of the joy that awaited him in the piles of snow outside. The trial of trying to get dressed was worth it. The smile on his face reminded me of the motivation Jesus had to endure the cross. It also challenged me to accept the difficult times in my life as an opportunity to become more like Christ. I hope it does the same for you. Trials can cause us to whine, pout, complain, and give up, or they can push us closer to Christ and His example of joy through suffering. Hebrews 12:3 is the application for our lives: “Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Our suffering can’t compare to His, but tremendous joy is awaiting those who endure through his strength. If he endured, so can we. No matter what your struggle, hang in there! Remember Jesus’ example both through His actions and His attitude. Picture the smile on a six-year-old boy’s face. Keep pressing on. The joy that awaits us will make the trials worthwhile.
remains the same. My symptoms are stable and overall I feel good. I
don’t have another MRI until January 9. I had blood work done a couple weeks
ago, and all counts are good. My sister, Amy, is doing well, also. She is
continuing with her chemotherapy. Originally the lump was 4 cm. The next
measurement they took showed that it had shrunken to 2 cm. The most recent
measurement has it at 1.7 cm. Thank you for your continued prayers for us. He is
bringing the healing we’ve all been anticipating!
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