My wife references Oswald Chambers a lot. I read his devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, almost every day. He's got some cool insight into how God works. I like it, maybe you will, too. In Bible Study Fellowship, we are studying Matthew, and this week there's a part where Jesus tells the disciples that things aren't going to be easy, and that they will have to drink His cup, too, and that it's going to be tough, but for all the tough stuff they endure, it will be worth it both here on earth and definitely in heaven, where eternal life is the prize. He tells them not to be surprised when trials come.
So...trials and troubles don't sound fun, do they? But, basically, no pain, no gain.
How do we handle them? How are we supposed to handle them? Are the answers to these two questions the same? I doubt it. I know it's not that way for me.
Here's where Oswald Chambers comes in with a quite hip (for the 1910's) analogy that I think illustrates the point and the correct handling of trials and tribulations. He references the verse in Romans where Paul says "in all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us". Oswald then goes on to say that "the surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the [surfer] the super-joy of going clean through it". So, picture Hawaii and the big waves and you don't see people swimming and splashing around at the beach, you see the surfers paddling out and waiting for the best, the biggest, wave they can find to ride in as far and as fast as they can. Never having been there, I'm just guessing, but I'm thinking that swimming in that kind of surf is dangerous to say the least. In fact, people probably drown all the time there. But they travel there to surf. The waves that would drown a swimmer are the exact things that make it fun for the surfer.
So...the waves are the trials and tribulations. The swimmer is the person who tries to plow through the surf on his own strength and he drowns. The surfer is the one who sees the problems as opportunities that can provide fun (rejoicing) if one has the Holy Spirit (surfboard). I really like that metaphor. It hits me where I live. When I'm swallowing a lot of water trying to swim, I try to conjure this idea up in my mind, rise above it with God's help, and surf. This is probably what I mean when I say parents should be "detached" from their kids' lives some of the time. If all you see are waves one after another, and all you're trying to do is swim, you're going to drown. So surf! If it weren't for the waves, you wouldn't know what it was like when the waves were quiet. You might even (gulp) wish for some waves!
We expect things to be easy. We sure hope they're going to be easy. We get a baby and that baby should be perfectly healthy at all times and present no problems to us, and maybe an hour goes by and something goes wrong. The baby spits up, has a stuffy nose, is constipated, has a rash, breathes funny. And you haven't even left the hospital with your newborn! Then there are ear infections, colds, stomach bugs, strep throat, 5th disease, shots, fussiness, biting, temper tantrums, defiant behaviors, the list is endless. We should not be surprised at these problems. In fact, if we are "surfers" we should really be looking for the next wave, and in my experience, if you're looking for a wave, one doesn't usually come! Reverse psychology! The last shall be first and all that stuff that Jesus talked about.
My point? Don't be surprised when bad things happen. They're going to happen. If they didn't, you wouldn't be able to enjoy things when they're going well. You wouldn't know any difference. Sort of like a "Twilight Zone" episode where the guy died and thought he'd gone to heaven because he got everything he wanted right away and always won when he gambled and always got the girl he wanted, then he found out it was really hell. With no down, up can't be appreciated, with no sound, silence can't be enjoyed, etc.
So, surf! You don't have to enjoy your kid being sick, just realize that you're in Hawaii (it's a metaphor!) and there are going to be waves and you should expect them and you've got the Holy Spirit to help you surf, so detach from those waves, stand on them and ride! You might find that when things are going great, you get kind of bored. Maybe, maybe not.
Last point: waves are going to come. Don't be surprised or overwhelmed by them. In fact, if you do it right, you might be surprised at your attitude when your kid doesn't have as many problems you thought they would. Not that you look forward to problems, but in a way, you really do. And in the same vein, you enjoy the lack of problems that would overwhelm you, and you might even be able to help people who are trying to swim and about to drown!