I’m writing this from the chair of a hospital room, sitting next to the bed where my exhausted wife is holding my sleeping son. There really is no rest for the weary, at least not here.
I don’t write as much as I once thought I would. Or maybe I do, but the type of writing I’m mostly confined to during this season is of the academic variety, littered with footnotes that go a long way towards helping me meet minimum page requirements.
Nevertheless, it just so happens that at this moment I find myself waiting for proposed revisions on my doctoral project as well as waiting for the syllabus to be posted for my next course. Put simply, I don’t have any school work right now. Put even more simply, I have some rare discretionary time on my hands. Even in this, I see the kindness of God; knowing that I would spend a week (or possibly more) in the hospital, he sovereignly protected this time that I might be more present here in room 451 (I would say fully present, but that is admittedly a struggle of mine).
As a result of this free time, I offer the following reflections from a hospital room.
Hospital time passes at roughly half the speed of normal time. My dad and I joked about this earlier this week; but when my other two kids showed up yesterday looking like they’ve grown up significantly since we were admitted last week, I’m not so sure it’s a joking matter anymore.
This leads me to my second reflection…
I miss my family. I’m here with my wife and middle child and miss my other two babies in ways that the words you’re reading on your screen could never describe. It’s one thing to miss my family when they’re together and I’m away, but it’s another thing altogether to have our family split down the middle. Thank God for the provision of grandparents that have the ability and willingness to drop everything else and help.
God is at work, even in the waiting. I’ve said this for some time now. After all, it’s what pastors/teachers like me are supposed to say. But let me explain further: we are waiting for answers, waiting for healing, waiting through treatments, waiting to be discharged, just a whole lot of waiting. Yet in the meantime, the Lord has made it so clear that he is present in the form of messages, phone calls, the generosity of family and friends, the unceasing prayers of church family, the kindness of nurses, and the discernment and patience of doctors.
Not once have I felt worried and, ironically, that worries me. I’m not sure why I haven’t felt anxious or worried. Am I less of a parent for not freaking out when my wife told me through tears that the docs are ordering scans to make sure there weren’t any blood clots in the brain of my three-year old son? Maybe it has something to do with my personality: slow, methodical, not prone to emotional outbursts (my goodness, I really am becoming my dad). I’d like to tell you it’s because I’m walking in complete obedience to God’s commands to not be anxious (Matt. 6:25-34; Phil. 4:6), but I don’t give myself that much credit. I know all too well how much I fret over lesser issues. Perhaps my lack of worry is a gift, the “peace of God, which passes all understanding” and I’m just now realizing it as I type these words. Oh, how slow I am to see the goodness of God.
Finally, this is not the way things should be or will be. It has been a difficult week, yet I pass others in the hall with significantly more difficult journeys than us (I don’t even like typing that as it contains a trace of “at least we’re not dealing with that”). I’ve shared an elevator with grandparents whose eyes were red from wiping tears. I overheard a man on the phone informing the person on the other end that “she’s fourteen and will have to learn to walk again.” I ran into a friend that volunteers his time each week in pediatric oncology (read: kids with cancer). This is not the way things should be.
When I was younger, I admit that I used to get anxious at the thought of heaven. Not even necessarily the thought of dying, but the thought of eternity. Would it be as good as things are now? (In case you’re wondering, I lived a very comfortable childhood.) But the older I get, the more clearly I see how broken things really are. Fourteen year olds aren’t supposed to have to learn to walk again. Three year olds aren’t supposed to be hooked up to IVs. Grandparents aren’t supposed to cry after visiting their grandchildren in the hospital. Kids aren’t supposed to have cancer. This is not the way things should be.
Thankfully, this is not the way things will be. I believe that the good news of the gospel is that not only are we saved from the penalty of our sin, we are also saved to an eternity where there will be no IVs, no pain and suffering, no tears, no cancer, no phone calls to check on your sick kid, and no blog posts about the time spent in the hospital. Even better, I believe we are saved to an eternity with the God who, in ways that I cannot yet understand, is working all things together for my good (Rom. 8:28). Just as my wife has held my son through excruciating pain this week, I am grateful for a Father who likewise holds us through ours.