It began sometime on the 21st of December. Then it continued through Christmas and ended on December 31st. We were able to open up gifts on the 25th, but soon thereafter the lethargy crept in and the next few days felt like the apocalypse had descended in our home. A normal, two-parent home needed to work overtime to keep up with the needs. And the needs were so many. While we had one in our arms another cried for help. We served and served and served only to wake up the following day to sad little faces desperately feeling the discomfort of this fallen world. Their once energetic dispositions gave in to the nauseating sensations. We couldn’t do a thing. We were surrounded by good counselors and we did what every parent did. The doctor said that it just had to run its course. Child after child went through the cycle. They were sick and tired. And that is not just a metaphor. So, we persevered. And on the other side of that miserable week I stop now to consider what I learned from it. Many parents reminded me that they had gone through this with their own kids and large families like mine cannot escape it. Crisis meet opportunity. Opportunity for what? To consider lessons learned when all your children are sick through the most festive week of the year.
Here they are:
First, I am grateful to have a wife next to me in this battle. And what a great warrior she is. It was like a tag-team. We knew each other’s strengths and we knew what each could tolerate and couldn’t. It was an amazing thing to watch.
Second, I learned that children pray through their pain and sickness. They become aware that something is not right and they know that Someone needs to act on their behalf. Through these many days we learned to rely on something beyond medication, shots, herbs, or whatever it may be. We learned to trust God.
Third, I learned that entertainment is made for such a time as this. Thank God for chromecast. For Bible stories. For Netflix. Yes, we can blame everything on television, but in times like this, it can be a real life-saver and it can provide husband and wife some additional restoration before the next battle.
Fourth, I learned that children are an amazing gift from God and how honored I am to serve them through this time.
Finally–and this was a realization we considered throughout and will help us consider it more deeply in the future–suffering together is redemptive. Suffering ought never to happen alone. My children needed us, but by needing us we redeemed each other in the process. They were not afraid to ask us for our help. At no time did we make them feel like they were a burden to us. Of course, we wished and prayed fervently that all this would go away, but we were being redeemed before our very eyes. They were the least of these and we clothed them and gave them water to drink.
We awoke on this new year refreshed. The windows were opened and they were smiling again. We were redeemed. They redeemed us. Yes. Their sickness made us whole.