Our first trip to the ER for one of our boys just happened to occur today, Good Friday. Caleb, our firstborn, just turned 2 last week and checked out just fine at his well-baby (or well-child?) appointment. This week, though, he's been running a temp, on and off, since Sunday. Nothing major, though. Probably teething, I thought, despite the medical community's insistence that teething does not cause fevers.
Anyhow, yesterday, he was so sleepy all day and miserable by evening. And warmer. I finally took his temp, and it registered at 103.7. I called the after-hours doctors' office number, mainly because that was easier than looking up the magic temperature for this particular age; the nurse on call said that if it went over 105 to take him in, right away. Otherwise, she suggested trying to get him in to his primary care physician the next day (today). After his second night waking, I resigned to sleeping on the couch, holding my precious boy. I missed the comfort of my own bed, but I delighted in comforting him--don't all parents?
Around our normal waking time, I checked his temp again: 105.4. Yikes! I called to see if I should take him in to the doctor's office or urgent care, and the nurse said to head to the ER. "If he has no other symptoms of influenza, he likely has a urinary tract infection, and they'll need to use a catheter on him. They'll probably have to sedate him for that, so you should just go straight to the hospital." Not words I wanted to hear. The idea of a sedative on one so young scared me, but I did as I was told.
It's bad enough to have to hold your happy, healthy child's arms down while he gets his innoculations, but to hold a sick kid still and in position for a poke, an X-ray, and then a catheter insertion is just miserable! (We were relieved that they did not sedate him, though.) The only reason my husband and I could do those things was because we knew that it was for his good, and it could lead to less pain and discomfort for him, later. Would I do it to ease your discomfort, or anyone else's? Probably not. I love my son more.
Between the pokes and other tests, Caleb wanted a "boo"; of course, I had brought a few of his favorite books. We read about bacon, ham, and pork (Jonathan's pet names for "The Three Little Pigs") and then read something more significant: a story about another Dad who let His Son suffer. Here's an excerpt:
"Papa?" Jesus cried, franticaly searching the sky. "Papa?" Where are you? Don't leave me!"
And for the first time--and the last--when he spoke, nothing happened. Just a horrible, endless silence. God didn't answer. He turned away from his Boy.
Tears rolled down Jesus' face. The face of the One who would wipe away every tear from every eye. . . .
The full force of the storm of God's fierce anger at sin was coming down. On his own Son. Instead of his people. It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin.
The comparison is weak, but for me, as I read that story today in the ER, I seemed to understand and appreciate God's sacrifice for me a little more. As much as any dad hates seeing his boy suffer, God had to hate it, too. He just loved something even more than He hated that, and that "something" is me, and you.
Well, our story has a somewhat happy ending. By the time we left the ER, Caleb's fever was down, and we had been assured that it was nothing serious. Daddy even got him laughing at the trash can that mysteriously opened on its own--and talked! (The link is to a quite amateurish--and wrongly positioned--video, but I think it's sweet!)
On the 10-minute drive home, Caleb fell peacefully asleep. His dad and I smiled at each other when we noticed the long eyelashes of our sweet boy resting on his cooled cheeks. The pain was over. I imagined God's relief when Jesus said,"It's finished." Their story has a happy ending, too. Will yours?