A Little Perspective
by Joy Martin, Co-Founder Set Me Free Ministries
“Mom … Mom, I threw up.” That’s how my Thanksgiving Day began at 3:30 Thursday morning. As I rubbed my eyes and tried to focus on the figure of my 8-year-old son hovering over the edge of my bed, I almost thought I heard him wrong. “You threw up?” I asked. His quiet, “yeah,” confirmed my fears. And so began Thanksgiving 2010.
I immediately popped out of bed and checked his room to discover that not only had he thrown up in bed but all over his wall, as well. I directed Justice to the bathroom and woke up Zach so he could help me in the cleanup. I stripped the bed and hauled everything downstairs to the wash. Zach, in the mean time, remade the bed with fresh sheets and got Justice settled back in with a towel and pitcher close by, just in case.
When I was finally able to crawl back into bed, I immediately started praying. “Lord, in the name of Jesus, I speak health over Justice. Lord, calm his stomach and give him a good night’s sleep. In the name of Jesus, I pray that this would be nothing more than an isolated incident. I pray that Justice would wake up tomorrow morning rested, refreshed, and healthy.” And then, just as I was beginning to fall back asleep, I heard it—the sound every mother dreads.
I rushed to Justice’s room and held the pitcher for him. Poor Justice was pale, and his stomach was heaving, but he had nothing much left to throw up. He was on the verge of tears as he sat on the edge of his bed leaning over the pitcher throwing up phlegm and nothing else. And so continued our night. After three changes of bedding, two loads of middle-of-the-night laundry, and several pajama change-outs, Justice was finally able to sleep peacefully at about 6:30. In fact, when he woke up at 9:00, we thought that maybe it had been a fluke after all, and he was fine. But while trying to take a shower, he got sick yet again.
Poor Justice. As he sat in front of the toilet, dripping wet and wrapped in a towel, he looked up at me fighting back tears and asked, “Why did this have to happen on Thanksgiving?” Frankly, I was asking the same question. And I was upset about it.
Why had my prayers gone unanswered? I had begged God to heal Justice of whatever was causing him to be sick. Was that so much to ask? All I wanted was a peaceful Thanksgiving that we could spend with family. And now I had a kid with the stomach flu and found myself bouncing between opinions about what I should do. Should I stay home with Justice while Zach took our 20-month-old Julie to dinner at his parents’ house? Should we bring Justice to dinner and just keep him away from the rest of the family? Should we all stay home together?
Needless to say, I’ve had better starts to Thanksgivings in the past. But as the morning wore on, it appeared that the worst had passed, and Justice wanted to go to his grandparents’ and watch movies while the rest of us celebrated. So that’s what we did. And Justice, God love him, laid on the couch all day, sipping water and ginger ale and watching TV. He never complained once, except to let us know that his stomach still hurt a little bit when we asked.
Justice took the day in stride, while I was a little miffed with God for not healing him. And then my old classmate popped into my head, and I was reminded of everything they were going through that day. He and his wife were thousands of miles away from their children, while I chased Julie around the house and Justice was curled up comfortably on the family room couch. He was overcoming horrendous pain from his injuries, which almost took his life, while Justice was dealing with a simple stomach bug. Yet they were giving thanks for all of their blessings, while I was annoyed that God hadn’t answered my simple prayer.
*sigh* I hate it when God has to show me an ugly side of myself to teach me a valuable lesson.
Because the truth is this: We did have a very happy Thanksgiving, and I have so, so much to be thankful for. I have an amazing and loving family. I am blessed beyond measure to call Zach my husband, and we have been given two amazing children to call our own. We are able to provide Justice and Julie with all of life’s necessities and so much more. We may not have everything, but we want for nothing. And most important of all, we serve a loving a gracious God who we are able to call Father. We can screw up, as humans often do, and He still loves us and calls us His children. He is ready and willing to forgive whenever we’re ready to repent of our wrongdoing. And the same holds true for you.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18: "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."