Today is a very special day in the Likens household. Today, our baby boy, Caleb, has turned five. Even typing that out I have to shake my head and ask, where has the time gone? I can remember February 24, 2009 pretty vividly even now. What was supposed to be a routine day and doctor’s visit turned into an adventurous, long day that ended with another miracle coming into our lives. Diana had a pretty routine pregnancy up until the end, and it seemed as though things just kept going down hill. When we talk about the “pain” of childbirth, we don’t mean the actual delivery, what I think of is just getting Diana and Caleb to the point where it could be safe to deliver him and Diana being ok as well. It was interesting this morning in our house. I guess Diana and I were both feeling a little nostalgic. Diana went and got one of Caleb’s newborn outfits. He was a premie, and so his outfit was so tiny. It is so crazy to look at that outfit and then look at the young man who wore it, and think, “was he ever that small?” Time has a way of causing us to forget a lot of things. The worry of those last couple of months, immediately gave way to joy as I got to hold my beautiful baby boy in my arms for the first time. To now he is in school, playing sports, and being a rambunctious little boy.
On the final night of Jesus’ life before His crucifixion He was talking to His disciples about His impending death and resurrection. John 16:21 says this, “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.” Jesus was telling His disciples, “you are sad that I am going away, but your sorrow will turn into joy because you will see Me again.” There are many things in life that initially seem to cause us a lot of pain, but in the end they turn into one of the biggest blessings we have ever had. We seldom understand how we become the people that we are, but we are in a large way the product of our experiences in life. The question becomes, do we hold on to the pain of life, or do we hold on to the joy of life? When a person breaks a bone and they go to the doctor, the doctor tells them “we have to set this bone.” Most doctors will tell you “this is going to hurt.” Our natural reaction is not to want to go through any more pain, but if we want the bone to heal and not have more pain down the road, we must go through this temporary pain now. In a sense it is, I have to hurt you to help you. Now that seems to run counter to what would make sense. But for those who have broken bones, after it is healed you don’t think of the pain of setting the bone, you just know that it is all better now. I want to suggest a few ways to allow your pain, to be turned into joy.
First, remember this moment is temporary. I know a lot of people are struggling with various things, but your present situation won’t always be like this. I know it feels like the world is coming down on you, but hold on, it will get better.
Secondly, some of you need to release the pain in your life. I’m not talking about the physical pain, I’m talking about the emotional pain. Some of you are carrying around baggage of past hurts that is weighing you down, and sucking the life right out of you. Maybe it is a grudge against someone who really hurt you, and in the moment you said “I’ll never forget this.” What good is that grudge doing you? Truthfully, you are the only one who remembers what happened. The person who hurt you, probably doesn’t even remember anymore. Choose to forgive them, release them from any supposed debt they have with you.
Finally, choose to live joyfully. I’m not naive enough to think that we won’t get down from time to time. Life has a way kicking you. It’s kind of like a Sunday afternoon. It has been great having a few days off and spending time with the family, but you know when you wake up the next day, it is Monday. But you can choose to allow God to turn difficulties into joy and to make you into the man or woman God has created you to be. You cannot control what happens in life, but you can control how you react to it. God is still God, He is still on His throne, and He is still in control.
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him