Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Endure hardships...

Jacob was 3 years old when we packed up and moved to Ivory Coast in Africa. I quite my job at the bank and we were dorm parents for some of the most amazing high school girls. When we landed he announced quite proudly, "I'm four!" When explaining to him we were going to be there a year we had told him that he would have a birthday while we were there. We landed in early July he had just had his birthday in May. One of the hardest things for Jake was getting all the shots before we left and the weekly dosage of anti-malaria medication while we were there. Jake actually got malaria twice while we were there. His normal "never-sit-still" body was limp and so very hot - from fever and from the tropical humid heat.

14 years later I am reminded of that time in so many ways as he sometimes seems so down and out of it and how much he hates to have to get shots and give medication. Last night in helping him get to his bed his bottle attached to his pik line dropped. It stops about two inches above the floor and pulls on the stitches in his arm - freaks us both out. I remember crying in Africa holding Jake wondering why in the world I brought my sons to a place where their lives were in danger - that I had put them in danger. So much of my fear is more about me than about the one who is hurting - empathy that is. Jensen has huge amounts of empathy - he is hurting for his brother very much. I am so thankful that my boys are far more godly than I ever was or ever will be.

Compassion and empathy are powerful gifts from God that change our attitude. It is actually a powerful tool of realigning our attitude. Try wearing it the next time someone ticks you off when they cut in front of you in traffic. Instead of cussing them out calling them a jerk and inconsiderate fool - picture this...they just got a phone call from a friend of their son, he is in the emergency room at the hospital and they need to get there - urgent to get there - longing to be their with their child. Compassion takes over; empathy emerges and we hurt for them - some of you who overflow with this gift will even cry.

I imagine that is much of what is happening with so many and Jacob's Journey. We are so thankful for so many hurting alongside of us as it is our own worst fear for ourselves - to have devastating news of a family member: cancer, drugs, drunk driver, bankruptcy, lost job, depression...those are some of the things I just heard in the last few days.

I have said this before but am feeling it pretty strongly right now: our pain does not trump your pain. I have had friends say to me that they do not want to share their pain with me because it pales in comparison to mine. I disagree totally and I really think scripture is on my side. Each pain is real and challenging and unique. James says that there are "trials" or "hardships" of various kinds. We get way to caught up in comparisons. At the end of John, Peter even gets caught up in this when Jesus is talking about what he is going through. Peter looks back at John and asks Jesus, "what about him?"

In this community of Christ, this community around us we have opportunity to walk with each other through hardships. We strengthen each other as we allow our trials to be shared and as we share the burdens of each other. Our time in Africa though extremely challenging on many levels was an amazing treasure - is an amazing treasure. As I look back the greatest treasure came through the relationships that we made and how they helped us to grow as people as we grew closer to God.
As I look at Jake now it is hard to keep in the mindset that this hardship is a treasure. The devastating wounds are far from healed - the road ahead is rough. My prayer tonight is that my son in the midst of all of this would feel the scarred hands of Jesus rubbing his feet, rubbing his hand, and massaging his temple. I pray that Jake would be strengthened in his spirit just tonight by the prayers of saints and attending angels. And that in the midst of his hardships he would see Jesus, the greatest treasure of all.
Eph 3:16-21 is an awesome prayer...
"I pray that out of his glorious riches
he may strengthen you with power
through his Spirit in your inner being,
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
may have power, together with all the saints,
to grasp how wide and long and high and deep
is the love of Christ, and to know this love
that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled
to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more
than all we ask or imagine, according to his power
that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,
for ever and ever! Amen."
Love and Peace,
Tom (Dad)


Debbie said...

Spoke to my core...

thank you :]

Cindy Todd said...

Tom, I love the picture. It brings back so many memories for me too. Different ones than you have for sure, rolling clothes, filling shoes to make the most of the packing, precious time fellowshiping with Debbie and Claudia as we helped make sure you had everything for that year. Yes the memories are precious and with us forever. I am so thankful you and your family have allowed us all into your lives in the many ways you have through the years. I am so thankful for the opportunity to share with you now. As Claudia said many times, it is so hard to be the recipient of God's love through people but one needs to let people use the gifts God has given them in order for them to grow and for us to be blessed. Thank you Tom for always pointing us to Jesus and His Word. We love you and continue to pray, Cindy

Nina said...

I loved seeing this picture because this is the age I remember your boys the most. When I read Robbie's blog posts, I remember babysitting for them and am amazed by God's faithfulness to your family. What amazing young men they are!

Our family has been praying for yours through this journey. Bless you! Hugs to Deb!