My nine-year-old and I have been spending some quality time together… in the middle of the night. She is the last of my four kids to come down with the Chicken Pox and thankfully she is almost over it. But for a couple nights, she simply couldn’t rest. So we made a bed for her in our room and as she struggled to sleep, we chatted.
The next day, after some time to reflect, she said to me, “Mom, it wasn’t because of the itching that I couldn’t sleep. It’s because I was worrying. I thought about whether or not I had all my school work done so I would be caught up when I went back to school. I worried about which day I should go back to school. It was hard because I didn’t know how long the Chicken Pox would last.”
I told her that I she doesn’t have to worry because her dad and I are going to take care of her. It’s not her job to know when to go back to school. She can trust her dad and me to know when she is no longer contagious and she simply has to go back when we say. She doesn’t have to figure out what school work she has to do. She just has to do the work that we bring home for her. None of us know how long the Chicken Pox are going to last, but that’s not today’s problem so we do not spend our mental energy on it. Her responsibility is to be in communication with, rely on, and find comfort in her parents.
Of course the spiritual parallels struck me immediately. In my own life, countless issues arise where I am not able to know what tomorrow brings. The temptation is to take matters into my own hands, attempt to control factors that are out of my control, and fret the night away. But God identifies Himself as a loving and trustworthy Father. He urges us to find rest in Him. And when we trust Him, He assures us that He is working all things together for our good. He tells us that He will lead and guide us; though wading through the unknown is almost certainly part of that road.
Having the Chicken Pox stinks, and it was hard to watch my children go through it. But I allowed it because they are going to receive the benefit of lifetime immunity from the pox and likely a stronger immune system as a result. (Many feel that the Chicken Pox trains a child’s system to better fend off viruses throughout their lifetime.) Not to mention that this difficult week has reinforced to my daughter that her parents are a source of comfort and we will care for all her needs.
Going through trials in this life stinks. But God allows them because there is a long-term benefit. We are to accept hardship as something God uses to train us. (Hebrew 12:5-11) And as we are disciplined through challenges we are strengthened. We will more likely withstand future trials. And we will reap a harvest of righteousness.
Ultimately, God’s design for our life is not one that is primarily concerned with our comfort or happiness. His goal is for us to experience the joy and peace of abiding in Christ, an intimacy that is often borne of trial.