Where Else Would I Be?

Christmas is a time to bring the whole family together, to share great fellowship, share great food, make heart-stirring memories all while celebrating the reason for the season. However, oftentimes, bringing the whole family together can also result in a different kind of sharing, a sharing that can run through the whole family like wildfire. The worst diagnosis and the one that can grind the festive activities to a sudden halt is the sharing of the dreaded stomach flu. It hit us hard.

Traveling fast through the family, we were all filled with fear and trepidation, wondering who would be next. We bleached and sanitized everything in an effort to prevent the continued spread, but much to our dismay, it hit my 9-year-old son.

As bedtime approached and he was feeling sicker and sicker, we knew that the night was going to be long. Doctors will tell you that as the day progresses and night begins to fall, children’s illnesses get worse and fevers go higher. I do not understand the reason, but that is exactly what happened. As I lay in the bed next to my little boy, listening to him writhing in pain and suffering, my heart felt so heavy at my inability to make it better. Over and over he would visit the bathroom, losing whatever was left in his stomach, while all I could do was offer encouraging words and try to comfort him the best I could. He would finally lie back in bed only to have it all repeat again.

My brain and body were so tired, the bone tired that you experience taking care of a sick child or walking the floors with a new baby. I just wanted to sleep. But how could I? Where else could I be but there with my child? How could I sleep when he suffered? In the wee hours of the morning, I heard his little voice in the dark, heavy with fatigue and sadness, say softly to me, “Mommy, the night is soooo long. When will it be over? When will the sun come up?” My heart was gripped with grief for his pain. All I could say was, “soon, sweetie, soon.”

I heard him quietly get up to make the now all-too-familiar trek back to the bathroom, so I waited for him, sitting at the end of the bed. As he returned, without a word he flung himself into my arms and hugged me tighter than he ever has. He held me with all his might, and he whispered, “Mommy, I love you.” We just held each other. I held my baby as long as he needed. Indeed, the night was long. Morning came. He finally slept. The night had passed.

I lay in bed thinking about the suffering of my sweet child. The only thing I could do for him was to be there, hold him, comfort him, wash his face, wipe his brow, assure him that he was not alone during the darkness of the night. I thought of my Jesus.

Sometimes, I feel like my little boy. I’m exhausted with the trials that I face. I’m tired. The burdens of this world are too great. I don’t know what you suffer, but I know that all people do. No one is exempt in this scarred creation. What is your night? It may be no different than what many people suffer—a death in the family, the loss of a job, divorce, trouble with your children, lost friendships, loneliness... It may be a “night” that no one knows about, but you suffer. Does it feel as if it will not end, that the dawn is so far away? When will the dawning of the Son be? Oh, Jesus, the night is so long, where are you? Oh, Jesus, I just can’t do it anymore, my suffering is so great. Jesus—do you feel Him close? Where do you think He is? What do you think Jesus is doing during your darkness? In your mind, does He seem so far away, disinterested and, yeah, He’s out there, but He’s not right here where you need Him to be. As you lay in bed, do you whisper in the dark, in exhaustion and great sorrow, “Jesus, the night is soooo long.”

My friend, you are His baby, His sweet little child. Where else would He be? He is there, He is not indifferent. His heart is gripped with sorrow just as yours is when you watch and listen to your child suffer. In the darkness, run to Him. Run into His arms and hold onto Him tighter than you ever have, whisper “I love you” and listen, listen to Him softly say, “I love you too.” Hear Him say, “My child, I am here. I am so sorry you are suffering, but I AM HERE.” I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will hold you, I will comfort you, I will wash your face and wipe the sweat from your brow. I will be with you until the darkness is past, and the morning has come. I will give you rest. I promise. My heart is so heavy at your suffering, but I am with you, even to the end of the age. I love you. Where else would I be?

December 01, 2006 / Perspective
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