I have an adorable 7 month old son. One thing we have known since that first ultrasound is that he is a mover; too often he nearly frustrated the doctors because he refused to keep still.
Over the last couple months, we have watched as, little by little, he has started exploring his mobility. The first time he rolled. The first time he held his chest up while on his stomach. All working towards that day when we have to have everything baby-proofed: the crawl.
The other day I was sitting with him on his blanket, and he wanted “squeaky bird.” Squeaky bird was perhaps a foot away; close enough that he knew it was possible, far enough that it wouldn’t be easy.
He rocked his body back and forth. He kicked his legs. He shifted his weight, little by little, until Squeaky bird was almost within reach. So he reached. And reached.
And grew frustrated. And began to pout.
I, his father, watched all this. I smiled at his progress, then hurt for his difficulties.
Yet I didn’t help him.
I, an uncaring beast of a father, allowed my son to hurt with his inability to reach squeaky bird. I, somewhat sadistic, let him wriggle in agony with the prize just out of reach. I could have ended his struggle by moving squeaky bird one inch; I could have saved him trouble by giving him the toy from the start. But I didn’t. I watched.
But is that really what happened?
What really happened is that I saw my son growing. I saw my son problem solving, exploring ways to accomplish difficult tasks. I saw my son developing the muscles and skills that would one day allow him to crawl, and later, to walk.
I hated that he was sad. But I knew helping now would hurt him in the long run. I could see the big picture. If I always gave him what he wanted, when he wanted it, he would be happy then, yes, but he would never learn to crawl. He would forever be limited in his abilities and potential… and he may not even realize it.
I want better for my son. I want him to crawl. I want him to walk. I want him to grow and develop. I want him to problem solve. And the only way I can let that happen is by letting him struggle. Out of love.
It was hard to hear him growing upset, and at times I considered giving him squeaky bird. But I didn’t. And he finally grabbed hold of his prize.
Knowing this, why do I get frustrated with God when He allows me to struggle?
Struggles hurt. In a way, yes, they are “bad.” But if we are honest, most of our issues with things aren’t with the things themselves, but our perspectives of the situation.
My son being unable to reach squeaky bird was hard. In his perspective, me not helping him could have seemed bad. But the reality of the situation was I allowed him to struggle, even to hurt, so that I could give him a greater good: the ability to one day crawl. The bird would have been nice, for a time; but crawling is far better.
My perspective of God’s choices, and His answers (or “lack thereof”) to prayers, is sometimes negative. Why did He allow my father to die when I was 5? Why did He not save two of our children from miscarriage? “Bad” things, yes. But what is the reality of the situation? The one thing I knew to be true in those times is this: God is God, and God is good. Regardless of whatever evidence I thought I had, when I decided to move forward with that Truth, my perspective shifted.
Do I understand things better at that point? Not necessarily. But it allows me to trust. It’s not always about us understanding, but allowing God to be God.
God gives good gifts. I find it interesting that the verse above, which claims “ask and you will receive,” never reveals the fathers giving the children what they asked for. Did you catch that? They asked for a fish, but we only learn that they didn’t get a snake; for an egg, and they didn’t get a scorpion. Did they get their fish or egg? I don’t know; but maybe, just maybe, they got something better.
My son asked for squeaky bird, I gave him the opportunity to grow in his ability to move. I asked God to save our children from miscarriage, He gave me an opportunity to trust Him against all reason (and He gave us an adorable son a year later.) You have asked, and will continue to ask, God for things; “ask and you shall receive”, but trust God to choose what is best for you to receive.
This is what I want my Year-long interns to learn. They are going to be challenged this year, they are going to struggle. There are going to be times that God refines them like gold in the fire. They may want to give up, they may not understand. But I know, without a doubt in my mind, that God loves them as His sons and daughters, and He will not give them bad gifts. All of us, so often being spiritual infants, might simply be in a place where He’s teaching us to crawl.
Read more at www.wheredidyouseeGod.com/writings