But to be spiritually minded is life and peace; for the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law (Romans 8:6-7 NIV).
It’s easy for me to relate to mothers with young children. I remember how difficult it was, at times, to take care of my children when they were young, especially when they were cranky and throwing tantrums.
Working and dealing with chronic illness only added to my stress. I truly believe that God’s grace kept me and gave me the strength to make it, especially on the days when everything collided at once – a flare, a project at work, kids needing something for school, and my husband having to work later than usual.
Usually, seeing a child throw a tantrum doesn’t faze me. However, it seems like that is all I notice these days – little kids throwing a fit, either because they are tired or because they can’t have their way.
Recently, I watched a little boy crying for a toy while his father scolded him. It made me think about a family we met at the airport.
Our flight home was delayed, and we were stuck in Dallas, waiting for a new plane to arrive because ours had some type of mechanical problem. No one wanted to hear about dinner vouchers and the airline doing everything in its power to get us home.
My husband, daughter, and I were exhausted. Our journey had started at 5am that morning. Dallas was the last layover in a journey that took us from South Carolina to California.
Everyone looked as tired and frustrated as we felt!
While we waited, a young couple and their two small children sat down next to us. The kids were cranky and before long, both of them were screaming, “No!” I watched them fall on the floor whenever their frazzled parents tried to console them. The mother looked like she wanted to join the kids on the floor, while the father looked embarrassed.
Although the gate was crammed with travelers, some people started to complain about the crying children and moved away. The look of distress on the parents’ faces’ magnified their fatigue and helplessness.
My husband leaned over and spoke to the father, “Looks like you have your hands full right now.” His voice was kind and gentle. He smiled. I think it was to let the father know that he was not judging him.
“You have no idea!” The dad admitted.
“Twins?” he asked.
The father nodded. “Just turned two.”
We laughed at his response. I don’t know if it was the sound of my husband’s deep voice or the sound of our laughter, but suddenly, the two kids stopped crying and started to peek at us. Their curiosity about us drew their attention away from whatever it was they were demanding. Now, their interest shifted onto this new man and woman talking to their daddy and mommy.
Children have to learn self control and the proper way to express themselves. Sometimes, when I see an adult losing control, I wonder what set them off and why they can’t seem to manage their emotions better.
When I see a child crying and screaming and demanding things from their parents or an adult expressing rage, I think about how we have our own “tantrums” – times when we become impatient and angry with God because we can’t have our way. It makes me wonder if we look like spoiled little children from our Father’s perspective.
Living with chronic pain is not easy, and I admit there are times when I feel like an out of control toddler, times when I cry out constantly, “No more!” I want to experience a pain free day. I don’t want to adhere to a restricted diet. I don’t want to avoid the sun. I want energy to do more than a few things each day. And, I want it right now. This second!
I thank God for His patience with me and His unconditional love for me. Whenever I think about the difficult health challenges I’ve been through, I have to also reflect on the good that has resulted in spite of the trying circumstances. I think about the new ways I learned to trust God, or how my faith was renewed, or how my capacity to reach out to others was developed. I recognize that even though I wanted out of the hardship, God allowed me to remain in it so that it could help me grow. I also gained a new level of empathy for others.
Maybe I’m more conscious of the hysterical children all around me because of this newest challenge I’m learning to cope with. Yes, some days I want to scream, “Enough!” Instead, I’ll listen to a sermon about pain and suffering, or read a book about trials that a friend recommends, or I read a scripture about God’s faithfulness. When I take these steps, I always sense God’s peace flooding my heart. And I gain the strength to hold on a little longer and trust that the Lord will strengthen me and help me grow, even though I think that I can’t bear another second of suffering.
I hope and pray that you will find the courage to hold on and stay strong. Keep looking to God for your strength and for the courage you need to live the life He has given you. We know that He is with us every step of the way and that the good He brings out of our lives will be used to help others (Joshua 1:9; Hebrews 13:5; II Corinthians 1:3-4).