I was talking to a guy at work yesterday afternoon. His 19-month-old daughter has had severe health problems over the past year with multiple hospital stays. She’s been diagnosed with the two rarest forms of immune disorders as well as a non-functioning liver. Due to the rarity and severity of her condition they have recently been traveling to Duke University to see specialists.
During our conversation yesterday he was updating me on their latest trip to Duke. He was talking about how his family had to spend a few days in the hospital there. With his daughter in her current condition, he talked about seeing all the other sick kids. He says to me, ‘You think you’ve seen sick kids. You haven’t. Even at the hospital in Birmingham (closest Children’s Hospital), I thought those kids were sick. Those kids are nowhere near as sick as the ones at Duke.’
He goes on to tell me about seeing a family….mom, dad, healthy sister….all crowding around the sick sister trying to help her walk and listening to her howl in pain – sometimes almost collapsing from the ordeal – her family holding her up. He told me it was so hard to watch even a nurse who sees things like that daily had to get up from her station and walk away when she started crying.
I tell you all this to say…on my way to work this morning I was thinking back on what he’d shared with me. What especially stood out to me right then was how he said I haven’t seen a sick kid. He’s right, I haven’t. Myself, my friends, and my family have all been blessed with relatively good health. Most of them have been blessed with healthy children. Beautiful children.
I thank God for my health on a regular basis. “Thank You God for my health.” This morning it struck me that I don’t even realize what a blessing that is; how thankful I should really be. I say it so nonchalantly. I’m ignorant to how bad things could be. Thank You God that not only do I have my health, but also that I haven’t had to experience how bad it could be. I should be on my knees in tears thanking God for my health alone.
There are people in this world who deal with health issues so horrible they would break me down in mere minutes. A little girl who is in so much pain she howls when she walks. Earlier this week I had a pinched nerve in my back and a guy walked in my office to say good morning. I’m pretty sure I almost punched him in the face. Because my back was hurting for about 3 hours at that point. That little girl’s family would probably want to punch me in the face. I don’t have a clue how bad it could be. Thank You, God.
And not just with health, with life in general. I go to sleep every night in a comfy bed with a solid roof over my head in a place I call home. I don’t know what it’s like not to have a home. Or a bed. Or a roof over my head. I don’t know what it’s like to miss meals because I have literally no money and nothing to eat. Even worse, to have children who can’t eat for that same reason.
I just…..I don’t know why this hit me so hard this morning but it did. Like a brick wall. So I’m driving to work and I’m thanking God. Not just for my health and possessions and these things I know I have, but I thanked Him for the things I don’t even realize I should be thanking Him for. The blessings I don’t even know I have. I thanked God for blessing me with that ignorance. Not in a sense that I don’t want or need to know about it, even knowing “about” it doesn’t give me the knowledge I’m talking about. I’m talking about the ignorance of what it’s like to live it on a daily basis.
I hope my point is coming across the way I intend it. In a roundabout way this story is another way to put it:
“The Cross Room”
The young man was struggling, weighed down by the immense weight of the cross he carried each day. Then one day he came upon a room, opened the door, placed down his cross and walked inside. The room was filled, wall to wall with crosses. He was surrounded by them. As he walked about the room he saw crosses of all different shapes and sizes, all different weights and woods.
Just then the man heard the voice of God, “What are you looking for my child?”
The man replied, “My cross is so heavy Lord, that I cannot bear it another day…let me take another one, God, a lighter one that’s more manageable and easier to carry.”
“Very well,” God said, “choose whichever cross you’d like…”
Some crosses were far to heavy to move, others were so large that they extended into the darkness of the room, toward a ceiling so high that their tops could not be seen. The man walked through the rows of crosses, hundreds upon thousands of them, until he focused in on a small cross in the corner, far smaller than the rest.
“I choose this one, God, this is the cross for me.”
“But my son, ” God replied, “that’s the cross you came in with…
It’s like this morning I walked through that room overwhelmed at how huge all the crosses are until I spied that small one in the corner. Then I realized it was mine.