A couple of weeks ago, my one year-old son, Shepherd (pictured below), was waking up at 6am for several days in a row. His usual wake-up time is around 7:30, and in the Lord’s kindness, he’s been back to “normal” for the last week or so. It has been quite a relief from the unwanted 6am wake-up call. That said, I know that he will very likely go through a waking up early phase again, perhaps even next week. I’ve been thinking about what my response to this unwanted wake-up call should be. Certainly, it should not be angry grumbling or a spiteful attitude that takes pleasure in letting him cry for 30 minutes while I refuse to get him out of bed. (You should know that I’m not opposed, in general, to letting him cry, just the attitude with which I do it.)
To my shame, both of these things have characterized my heart and my response.
Instead of acknowledging that this “light momentary affliction (and I do mean “light!”) is preparing for [me] an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17), I have been frantically trying to fix what I deem to be a problem. I even took him to the doctor in the middle of it all to rule out an ear infection. (Confession: I really wanted it to be an ear infection that explained the early wake-up). Unfortunately (or fortunately), he got a clean bill of health, and I’m sure the pediatrician thought I was a crazy, paranoid new mom since Shep was giving her smiles and giggles the whole time she examined him. I left kind of embarrassed but trying to justify that I did it for his good rather than as a desperate attempt to explain and then fix something that is uncomfortable to me – an early morning wake-up call.
So now, knowing that he was perfectly healthy, I have been trying to think through how I have failed to respond in a godly way to this trial and what needs to change in my heart in order to respond differently. Why am I so quick to want to fix anything that makes me uncomfortable? Why is my first response anger and frustration when things get in the way of what I want – in this case, an awake, crying baby getting in the way of my desire to sleep.
Obviously, I am not believing that this is happening for my good and that the Lord is in control of it. Rather than agreeing with James 1:2-3, which says, ” Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance,” I am anything but joyful. I do not think rightly about suffering – I just want it to go away. I know this is because I don’t really understand what Paul means when he says in Romans:
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:16-18
I want to embrace any form of suffering (even an hour less of sleep) with joy and the hope of heaven always before me. Having an unexpected early wake-up call should serve as an opportunity to thank the Lord for producing endurance, character and hope in me. I want to embrace it as discipline and yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness from it (Heb. 12:11).
The Lord is merciful to be showing me my sin and teaching me this now, with “suffering” as minor as a 6am wake-up call.