In honor of Father’s Day we have a special treat for you here at Lu Says: A guest post by my son-in-law, Kyle Welch. Kyle is a pastor, writer, speaker, as well as, a superb-awesome-excellent husband and dad. I’m just a tad proud of him, can you tell? Enjoy this special treat, and please follow Kyle at Mad Theology.
Prepare for Tears: A Father’s Difficult Night by Pastor Kyle Welch
It was 11:18 p.m., and my five-month old son refused to go to sleep. He had been crying for two hours. Straight.
Me? I was sitting up in bed, reading about baseball on my phone, unable to sleep a wink because my son was raising ruckus in his bedroom.
I’ll tell you something I’m embarrassed about:
I have a hard time letting my son cry. I’m convinced I’m somehow abandoning my fatherly oath to protect and take care of and hold him when the reality of existence seems especially brutal. Somewhere, I remember reading that every time our young children cry or throw fits, we should keep in mind that what they are experiencing is the worst thing that has ever happened to them.
Even if I cannot let that sentiment guide my parenting, I identify with it.
Why had my son been crying for two hours straight? Because my wife and I saw that he was ready to sleep through the night. He was eating plenty during the day—the growing fat rolls were evidence of that. But he wasn’t napping nearly as much as he was supposed to be. He needed the extra sleep more than the extra calories.
The problem was convincing him! He wasn’t so keen to the idea!
Which was why I was sitting up in bed at 11:18 p.m., begging the Lord to help him go to sleep.
My heart pounded with guilt. My anxiety surged within me. My stomach ached. Again and again, I asked myself: “Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing the right thing? Am I doing the right thing?”
And then, something miraculous happened. His cries turned to sobs. His sobs to whimpers. His whimpers to sweet, peaceful and uninterrupted sleep.
He slept soundly the rest of the night. And the next night. And the next. To this day, he sleeps through the night.
None of that happens if I had gotten up that night, and picked up my son, and held him in my arms. He never would have learned how to comfort himself.
Sometimes, God doesn’t solve our problems immediately. We cry and we cry for help. And He doesn’t come. He doesn’t show. He doesn’t answer.
Like Job and his friends, we wonder what we did wrong to deserve our suffering. Like David, we wonder why God is so far from saving us. Like Jeremiah, we wonder how much longer our struggles will endure.
But might it be that God indeed hears us but doesn’t always intervene because He’s interested in what is best for us? Maybe we’ve done nothing wrong. Maybe God isn’t so far off. Maybe He just wants us to grow.
Of course, God steps into our lives in all manner of ways, both seen and unseen. He guides our steps. He protects us. Just because I let my son cry in his crib that night doesn’t mean I leave him to his tears if he falls and hurts himself or if he’s starving. A good father steps into those situations and provides.
I’m not talking about those miracle-necessary moments when everything is going to fall apart unless God steps in. I’m talking about the times when it’s better that we struggle and hurt for a little while because in the long run it’s better for us. Those are opportunities to settle down and realize, “You know what? It’s going to be okay. I can have peace. I can wait. I know and trust my Father is near.”
In Isaiah 30:18, God says: “the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”
Sometimes, God doesn’t solve our problems immediately.
Grace is a good thing.
So is compassion.
Justice from the Lord is sweet.
And I want my son to experience all of them.
So, I swallow my anxiety and my pride, and I let my son cry, so that he can learn the peace that comes from waiting for the dawn. And sleep.
Wishing you all a fun-fastic Father’s Day!
And just because he’s so stinkin’ cute, here’s a picture of Kyle (photo credit, Josh Telles) on his wedding day:
Lucille Williams is the author of “From Me to We.” We invite you to subscribe to Lu Says by placing your email in the subscribe button. (We promise we won’t abuse it or invade you with junk mail!)