It’s 2:15 in the morning and my son is thrashing in his bed. He’s hurting. He has a fever. It hurts to lay still; it hurts to move. He had surgery about a week ago and his recovery was going well, until it wasn’t. The ER doctors sent us home around 10:30PM. We see the surgeon again tomorrow AM. Tonight, we wait. Tonight, he thrashes. Tonight, he cries. Tonight, I cry too.
I cry, but I’m not sad. I’m angry. I’m agitated. I’m frustrated. I’m feeling sorry for my son. And, in my worst moments, I’m feeling sorry for myself (seriously, Scott, get over yourself). I try to sooth and reassure him, but sometimes I break. I whisper calming things to him, but sometimes my voice gets louder and shakier. I pray. I lament to God, how can you let him suffer like this? Help him. Please. My son groans; I groan. I wonder, does God groan?
His crying wakes up his brother who starts crying too. Then, his crying wakes up his mother who starts crying too. Now, we’re all crying and equally frustrated and not at all happy. And, it’s 2:30 in the morning.
His mother takes his brother and their crying stops. I kneel at the side of his bed and hold his hand while he wriggles in agony. After a minute, his crying stops. And now, he is holding my hand and my crying stops. And then it happens… peace. It is quiet. My boy is still. His breaths deepen. The anguish he was carrying on his furrowed brow relaxes. His pursed lips part. He sleeps. I notice my own breaths getting deeper.
I try to conjure up my anger. I want to revisit my frustration. But, I can’t. I think about crying, but I don’t want to anymore. Things seem okay; life is peaceful. Is this what St. Paul was talking about when he promised peace which surpasses understanding?
This peace doesn’t make sense. It surpasses my understanding. We’re in the eye of the storm – caught between the ER and the surgeon’s office. Now, is the time for worry and agitation. However, the new and unrelenting reality is peace. Peace for the boy in pain. Peace for his brother who has fallen back asleep. Peace for his mother who cradles her son. Peace for his dad who can’t tell if he’s holding onto his son’s hand or if his son is holding onto his. It’s 2:45 in the morning.
I pull that scripture up on my cell phone. I read what St. Paul wrote to the Philippians: Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7).
I entertain the notion of rejoicing – even now. I vow to be gentler – even when I’m angry. I think about the Lord being near – even here. I let go of anxiety – even as my prayers expose my worries and fear. I try to wrap my mind around the peace of God, which transcends all understanding. I pray for that peace.
It’s 3:00 in the morning. I'm falling asleep. I know that when I wake up it will be chaotic. There will be pain. The anger, the agitation, and the frustration will undoubtedly return. The day will be hurried and emotional. Tomorrow, my son will cry. Tomorrow, I may cry. But, for now… peace.
I hope that you find that peace too. And that it guards your heart and your minds through the many storms we face in this tumultuous life. Peace, my friends. Peace, not after, but in the eye of the storm.