One of my biggest fears in life is not being able to protect my daughter from harm - physical or emotional. I understand that I cannot possibly protect her from everything (only God can do that), but I still worry about how I would react if something happened to her.
Then, one week ago today, she knocked over a cup of steeping tea and sustained first and second degree burns on her arm and stomach. She wept for over an hour straight. I was horrified and miserable and oh, so sad. But as a result, I have pondered a few things.
1) We always say that Jesus understands what we're going through because he experienced everything we could ever experience (and more) since he became human. I'm not exactly sure where in the Bible it says that. I know it says "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man..." so I do believe he has experienced and overcome every temptation. But I can't find any place in the Bible where it talks about Jesus having a child and experiencing the emotions and fears related to parenting. However, I do know that God the Father has experienced them. He sent his only son to this Earth, knowing that he would be mistreated and unloved; abused, beaten and crucified. Parents want to protect their children from harm, not allow them to go into a situation where we realize harm is inevitable. And yet God the Father allowed it because of his great love for us and his desire for his glory to be made known throughout the earth. I've never really pondered much on the fact that God the Father understands what I fear. I've always just thought about Jesus' sympathy for what I face. Realizing this has brought me a little closer to Him.
2) Mary deserves a medal. I'm not saying I think she deserves an equal spot next to Jesus, but wow! what a woman. Every mother desires that her child is liked and accepted. I can't imagine what it must have been like for her to have a son who was not just disliked, but hated. How hard to have your child be the one discussed as rebellious, sacrilegious and crazy! I imagine the other mothers in town whispered about Mary and tried to decide how much of Jesus's antics were a result of bad parenting. And of course, the ultimate - grieving the inhumane execution of your son as a criminal. God doesn't give us more than we can bear. Mary bore way more than I ever could. I have a new found respect for this often overlooked, under appreciated woman of the Bible.
3) I've gained greater depth into the verse "All things work for the good...". When this verse is often offered in situations, it feels trite and superficial. But in the face of my fear, and the thoughts I was pondering, I realized its truth. Sending my son to live as a human, be rejected by humanity and die a miserable death seems like it could have no positive outcome. Giving birth in a manager to a child who I thought was going to save Israel as a warrior, and yet died the death of a criminal might seem to be hopeless. Sending my daughter into a world where I can't protect her from harm - and where she might even get hurt - seems cruel, scary and unfair. But I can see now how it all brings God glory and it does work for the good of those who love Him.
It's been seven full days and M's wounds are healing beautifully. I am so thankful to God for his faithfulness - to protect my daughter, and to teach me.
Photo: M in her boat, 2006