To close out our trip to Florida, Nate, Sam and I went to see the Orlando Magic take on the Houston Rockets. Will and Dub had driven home on Tuesday, and so the three of us caught the game Wednesday night and flew home Thursday morning.
An old buddy of Will’s set us up with amazing seats. We were ecstatic to surprise Sam with seeing his favorite player, the star of the Rockets, James Harden. We do not know why exactly Sam decided to follow Harden in the first place, but he’s a huge fan. For years now Sam has checked Harden’s stats on a daily basis. He knows when the Rockets will be on TV weeks in advance. A life-sized Fathead poster of Harden in action greets visitors to our playroom.
About a week before the game, we started giving Sam hints about the big surprise. He’s not exactly a bookworm, but we try to motivate him.
“Read a chapter, get a hint,” we told him. He started tearing through his book, so excited to try to solve the mystery. One of my hints was facial hair. Nate told him it had something to do with outer space. But Sam soon tired of the hints and just wanted to know. His smile and utter delight were worth a million bucks.
You may have an idea of where this is going. Guess who pulled a hamstring? Yep. Sam’s beloved James Harden didn’t even travel to Orlando. We had seats ridiculously close to the Houston bench, but Harden was never on it.
It’s an absurdly privileged problem to have. But watching your child navigate disappointment, no matter how First World it may be, is never pleasant. I try to remind myself that if I controlled the universe I’d churn out monsters. Never facing disappointments or challenges or true heart aches means you simply do not grow. I know that. I know it first hand and yet I’m somehow able to perpetually forget that when it comes to parenting.
Praise God that He knows best, that for Christians, He uses all life’s experiences for our good and His glory. I may or may not see the fruit produced by Harden’s torn hammy, or from any disappointment, big or small. But I don’t need to. What I need is to trust these words from Romans.
“Not only that, but 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 ESV
As an aside, just as Sam was holding up this sign in Orlando, my niece Caitlin was in labor NYC. Caitlin and her husband, Cam, welcomed a healthy baby boy just seconds after tip-off. Needless to say, I’m elated to have a new baby to love. I find the rhythm of life is often divinely orchestrated. Babies not only have a way of demanding that we march on in life, but that we appreciate every little thing. I’m excited to smell him, to cuddle with him, to watch him be easily awed and entertained by bubbles and birdies and balls. One of my goals in 2018 is to maximize my exposure to baby belly laughs.
So, today I’m praising God for suffering and disappointments of any and every magnitude, knowing that this is how we grow. And I’m praising God for new life and the joy that babies bring! Praying that you too can embrace the necessity of suffering and the hope of new life.