“Mommy, will you hold me?” My three and-a-half year old son whimpered and looked up at me with big pleading eyes. He was sick and wanted to be snuggled. How could I say no to those insistent baby blues? “Sure buddy. I’d love to hold you.”
Despite his faucet of a nose, croupy cough, and feverishly hot body, I was honestly thrilled to hold him close. Usually he is too busy running, wrestling, climbing, crawling, jumping, sliding… MOVING! He has no time to sit still, let alone cuddle with his mom.
But on this particular morning, he had no energy to participate in his usual rowdy pursuits. Instead he needed my strength to carry him through the morning and day ahead. And he desperately wanted my embrace to bring him the comfort he was obviously lacking in the moment. I willingly obliged.
It probably sounds awful, but sometimes I kind of enjoy it when my kids are sick. Not in a weird sadistic way. I’m not like the deranged mom from the movie “The Sixth Sense” who made her daughter ill on purpose by putting small doses of cleaning supplies in the food she ate every day.
I do not like seeing my children suffer. It pains me to know when my kids are dealing with physical or emotional distress. And I sincerely hope and pray they can move beyond their discomfort as soon as possible.
So let’s be clear, it is not the sickness I enjoy! It’s the fact that sometimes those “under the weather” moments are the only times when my kids are quiet, compliant, and need me in a deeper than normal way. A need that goes beyond someone to tie their shoes, zip-up a jacket, or make them a snack.
In those “I don’t feel good” moments, they crave the comfort that comes from my presence. It reminds them that they are loved and that, despite their current circumstances, everything is going to be okay.
Sometimes it’s nice to feel wanted or even indispensable, isn’t it?
Funny how everyday experiences can remind you of a bigger spiritual reality. As I cared for my son I couldn’t help but think of how often I have turned to my own parents in difficult times. But more importantly, I was reminded of how many times I have cried out to my heavenly Father.
You see, while I do acknowledge God in the every-day moments of life and I try to remember to praise Him in the victories and successes that I might attain. In reality, it is most often during those hard, uncertain, fearful, painful “I don’t feel good” moments in life, that I earnestly seek His face.
“Father, will you hold me?”
I am not a person who believes that God is up in heaven willing negative or difficult circumstances upon his creation in an effort to teach us life lessons. Can He use the difficulties we face in life to bring about a greater good? Do unpleasant or even dire circumstances sometimes draw us closer to Him? Absolutely. But generally speaking, I think bad things happen in life because we live in an imperfect and fallen place.
People get sick and hurt and die in this world. Furthermore, we are free people who sometimes make unfortunate choices that often come with consequences. And sadly, sometimes we are the victims of other people’s bad decisions.
I can sit and try to ponder the age-old question “why do bad things happen to good people?” Or contemplate why an all-loving, all-powerful God allows suffering to occur at all? But when it comes right down to it, these are things none of us will truly understand in this life. I can decide to be angry about it, or to doubt God’s love, power, or even his very existence.
But instead I choose to accept the reality that this is just the way it is. Jesus told us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). How did Jesus overcome? Surprisingly, He did so through pain and suffering. He didn’t shy away from sorrow and despair, but rather, willingly entered into it. He knows and intimately understands hurt.
Jesus chose to die a brutal and undeserved death on the cross, so that He could offer humanity a beautiful eternal alternative. It’s an unmerited gift and something we could never achieve on our own. For those willing to receive it, He freely offers us Heaven, where there will be no more tears or pain or suffering.
Scripture tells us that in his last agonizing moments, bruised and battered and nailed to that splintering timber, Jesus cried out in a loud voice: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).
Can you picture it? Here was Jesus in his darkest hour, desperately needing the comfort and the reminder that He was not alone and that everything was going to be okay. “Father, Into your hands…”
“Daddy will you hold me?”
I can’t imagine the anguish that God experienced as he watched Jesus’ ruthless demise. If there had been another road they would have traveled it. But love compelled them to follow it through to the end.
As heartbreaking as that moment was, I believe that as Jesus cried out to Him on the cross, God was overjoyed at the opportunity to reach out and embrace the Son as he traveled from mortality into immortality once more.
What about us?
Just as it hurt God to see Jesus suffer, I think it pains Him when we have to deal with distressing circumstances. In 1 John 3:2, we are called children of God. I don’t believe God ever enjoys seeing his children in pain.
And yet, I do believe that God appreciates the fact that it is often only in those difficult and uncomfortable moments in life that we willingly humble ourselves, are still enough to listen for his voice, and ultimately acknowledge our need for a Savior.
Sometimes it’s nice to be wanted and even indispensable, isn’t it?
Psalm 34:18 states: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
I don’t ever enjoy being brokenhearted or crushed in spirit. But I do welcome the intimacy that often comes when, in those moments, I finally acknowledge my deep need for the LORD.
“Jesus, will you hold me?”
I’m so grateful that his arms are open wide and his nail scarred hands beckon me: “COME!”
photo credit, aoyouth.org.uk