My six-year-old son had surgery this past week. The surgeon said that, for him, our son’s procedure was about two or three on a scale of one to ten, in terms of difficulty and technicality. “But,” he smiled, “I know for you, this surgery is about a thirteen because you don’t have a child in surgery every day.”
Though it was a fairly minor outpatient procedure, it was a big deal to Silas, our son. Before the surgery, he was frightened. Now that the surgery is over, he hurts. He has two incision sights, and they are sore. Getting in and out of chairs is tricky. He needs help lying down, getting up, going to the bathroom. He cannot ride his bike or scooter; he cannot swim; he cannot wrestle with his brothers or run or climb or jump. Yes, for a six-year-old boy, this is definitely a thirteen on a scale of one to ten.
Before the procedure, I prepared him as much as possible. We read Franklin Goes To The Hospital and This Is A Hospital, Not A Zoo and Paddington Goes To The Hospital. My husband and I explained, as best we could, what would happen, what to expect. We followed the doctor’s instructions about not eating and not drinking, so we could avoid complications with the anesthesia. We encouraged him to take along his favorite blanket and teddy bear. We hugged him and prayed with him. As a mom, I did everything I could to prepare him and help him, but he had to have the surgery.
I suppose I could have refused to take him to the specialist. I could have refused the surgery. I could have spared him the fear and pain of the past week and the embarrassment, since this was a sort of embarrassing procedure. This surgery wasn’t urgent. Nothing bad would happen immediately if he didn’t have it. But, in the long run, he could have major problems, life-threatening problems, if he hadn’t had this surgery. As a mom, I hated seeing Silas afraid and nervous. I’ve hated watching him in pain. And many times, I have wished I could just hug all his pain away. But I know that this surgery was necessary for his future good health.
This morning over coffee, I was thinking about my Heavenly Father and how He sometimes allows me to go through scary, painful times because it’s for my future good. Sure, He could choose not to allow it; but He knows the best thing for me, in the long run, is to go through frightening times of great pain. So He prepares me — if I will listen to Him and sit next to Him and learn from Him. And He goes with me. But He makes me experience the fear and pain because it’s best for me.
Over the past few days, I have watched over Silas as he’s slept. I have carried him when it was too painful for him to move on his own. I have rubbed his back and kissed his forehead. I have sat by him and held his hand because my nearness comforted him. I’ve given him food he’s enjoyed — jello and popsicles and juice and Cracklin’ Oat Bran. I delighted in renting movies he wanted and making cookies he would like. I delighted in giving him good things, especially when he was hurting so much.
And this morning, I realized my Heavenly Father is the same with me, only more so. When He has allowed me to go through painful times, He has carried me. He has been an ever-present help, never leaving me. His nearness has been my comfort. He has given me little gifts, bits of goodness, in the middle of those scary, hard times.
If I know how to be kind and loving and compassionate when my son is hurting, if I know how to give good things to my boy, then how much more does our Heavenly Father know how to be kind and loving and compassionate? How much more does He delight in giving good things to us, even – or especially – in the middle of tough times?