Rejoice Always

Yesterday was not one of my easiest days. I went into the day knowing it was going to be a busy one, but I had no idea that I would end up spending a big chunk of it in the emergency room at Children’s Hospital.

I suppose it was appropriate that I started the day in a doctor’s office. My youngest had some catch-up shots he needed, and his shot-only visit took an hour longer than I expected. Afterwards, I took the kids to the zoo for Mr. C’s homeschool class since we were too late for another fun plan I had involving the fair.

I think I was fairly close to heading to the hospital during that trip when JP toppled over a small fence in front of the marmosets (who are behind another enclosure besides the fence)—I guess he was trying to climb like one—and literally landed on his nose, scraping it. I caught him by his feet as he did so, perhaps sparing us the trip we would have to make later anyway.

After we arrived home, Mr. C and Little E were eating lunch, playing at the table in a way for which I had often scolded them in the past. I was walking back from talking to Greg on the other end of the house when I heard the fall. Mr. C had been playing with Little E, slipped on his place mat, and fell forehead first on the hard tile. After getting him ice, it took all that was in me not to tell Mr. C, “I told you so.” I wasn’t too worried, though. It’s my husband’s default to assume the worst. Mine is the opposite.

Greg left for an appointment he had with a friend, ironically spending some of his time there talking about the fear that we parents can have about our kids’ safety. In the meantime, Mr. C started mentioning that he couldn’t see right—that everything was half blurry. That was when I finally took notice that this fall may have been worse than I had originally thought. After talking to my friend who works with patients with brain injuries and after Mr. C said his vision was getting worse, I dropped my two youngest kids at my friend’s house and headed to the hospital with Mr. C. At this point, he was also feeling very nauseated. We eventually saw a doctor, had a CT scan, and waited for results. We had been at Children’s for three hours when Greg texted me that he had bought some treats for Mr. C to make him feel better. He bought him a new Star Wars Lego box set, a package of ice cream cookies, and new Vitamin C gummies (which, to Mr. C, is a treat).

At this point, Mr. C had been waiting in the hospital for a long time. His head hurt, he had partially lost his vision to blurriness for part of the day, he was nauseated, he was tired, and he had bravely let his head be repeatedly moved into a huge, scary machine (after which, by the way, he was given five pretty cool superhero stickers). So I was glad to tell him the good news about what Daddy had bought for him. I don’t know exactly how I thought he’d respond, but I didn’t expect what he did say: “I got some stickers already! Silly Daddy!” as if he didn’t need anything else besides stickers to make him happy. He went on to compare the day with Christmas because of all the treats he got to have, including the cool bracelet the hospital issued him.

This thankfulness by a six year old in the midst of the pain of a concussion blew me away. I wonder if I would have done the same. I think I could guess, since that very morning, in the midst of the tiny annoyances of being tired, hot, late for the zoo class, and disappointed at not being able to do my original plan, I snapped at Little E when she wanted to ride in JP’s spot in the stroller. Was I thankful that I was able to go to the zoo with my kids in the first place? No, I just focused on the problems instead.

Paul commands us in Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” I like what Charles Spurgeon had to say about this verse: “What a gracious God we serve, who makes delight to be a duty, and who commands us to rejoice! Should we not at once be obedient to such a command as this? It is intended that we should be happy.” God is so kind to us! We can actually choose at any given moment, no matter what the circumstances, to rejoice in what God has given us. We can choose to be thankful!

“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Corinthians 4:17-18). These verses were written by Paul, who endured hardships most of us wouldn’t call “light affliction” unless we remember to compare them to eternity. If his were light, what about ours? Really, should I get upset because I’m tired and hot? Any hardship, tiny or huge, “is producing for us an eternal weight of glory.” I’m not even sure I totally understand what that means, but it sounds like it far outweighs anything we might go through here.

If my six year old can choose to do it, putting his eyes on the rewards instead of the pain, how much more can we adults choose joy today?

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