Not quite a month ago my (then) 8 month old caught an especially unfriendly virus. It was so unfriendly that when I brought the poor guy into the emergency room, the doctor told me he was much worse than most cases of dehydration that she sees. After nursing and Pedialyte, an anti-nausea tablet prescription, 8 unsuccessful IV pokes, and too many hours in what should have been less ER visits, we were home to just stick it out.
I felt terrible. My instincts were broken. I continually kept making the wrong call and my little man was the one suffering the consequences. I doubted every aspect of my abilities as a parent. I regretted worrying that I would be that over-protective mom who brings their kid into the hospital for every sneeze or sniffle. I decided that any hope to become an adoptive or foster parent in the future would be selfish and unfair to just about any child. I found a thousand reasons to blame myself for every step of his illness. After a couple days he got better. After a couple more days I decided I maybe didn't actually deserve to have my children taken from me by Social Services.
Last week he got sick again. It started the same way. Same symptoms. Same progression.
Not everything, though, was the same. I was better equipped because of my experience. I knew what was coming, what to watch for, and how to best prevent the worst of it. I also knew he would get through it just like he had the last time.
I called my Pediatrician just to confirm what I knew, and she told me to bring him into the emergency room anyway. I didn't want to because I knew exactly what they'd tell me. I knew he wasn't as bad, and I knew what to watch for. My husband asked that I just bring him in anyway to make sure, so I did.
When we finally saw the doctor it was the same one as our final visit just a few weeks prior. He told me everything I knew he would. He told me I was right about what to watch for, steps at prevention, the severity of his dehydration, and so on. He said, "You know the drill".
It was amazing to me how drastically different I felt the second time around. I was so much better equipped because of my experience.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
This section in Romans hit me pretty hard while my son was recovering the second time around.
Our whole lives are going to be one obstacle after another. In varying degrees of severity, dressed up as physical, emotional, or spiritual pain, the suffering is never going to stop. Because of sin we are destined to battle an endless stream of life's hardships in this world.
John 16:33I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
The war is won. You are not left to fight alone. Yes, you will struggle in this life. What an amazing blessing, then, to know that the glory that will be revealed in you in heaven!
Each obstacle we faces equips us. We rejoice in our sufferings because it helps us grow closer to Christ, see our need for him, and produces perseverance and character.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
A silly little virus does not seem much in the scheme of what life can throw our way, but God certainly worked in my heart and grew me as a mother and a child of Him.
Take joy in knowing that each battle better equips you for the next. And when the battles are through, the victory feast will be glorious.