“Listen to his breathing! He’s wheezing! I just know he’s punctured a lung or something! He never sounds like that!”
“If Mom would just calm down, I believe her son would also stop crying and start breathing normally.”
Oh. I guess I was being a bit hysterical.
But who could blame me? I had rushed our youngest to the emergency room, sure something serious had happened. Our “little climber” had really chosen the wrong object to conquer and had fallen quite hard onto the garage floor. I had just turned my back for that moment, that critical moment. My fears and self accusations only added to my state of mind. What if he was really hurt this time?
Sure enough. After forcing myself to settle down, Noah returned to his normal breathing pattern. We left the hospital with the assurance that nothing was broken. No concussion, no punctured lung, no problem. Plus he got a little stuffed toy, the first in his future collection of emergency room “parting gifts.”
Sometimes there truly is a serious problem that needs to be taken care of. It is an emergency. It can’t wait. I always admire those who are first on the scene of a potentially disastrous situation or who are attending someone who is having serious physical difficulties. I would be frantic. I would be shaking. I would have wild eyes and a racing heart. I would NOT be the one someone looks to as a source of calm.
On the other hand, we have all experienced the person who takes a seemingly simple issue and turns it into a major problem. I have to be careful not to be “thinking out loud” if I’m working through a minor situation. If my husband is within earshot, he is quick to turn it into a problem-solving project in spite of my protestations that it’s really no big deal.
But then there are those who view a major problem as “no big deal” because they don’t want to admit how much it will affect them. Or like the astronauts on the Apollo Thirteen flight, we try to minimize the serious nature of a true crisis just to keep everyone calm. To this day, when something is seriously wrong, I will hear someone serenely utter that famous phrase, “Houston, we have a problem.”
Problems. Although I never taught math, I overheard parents commenting on “math homework” that seemed endless, especially for a child who struggled in school. I know as a student I was always grateful when the assignment included only the even numbered problems. I always wondered just how much practice was really necessary.
Problems. Today we have all kinds of labels and diagnoses for children who act out or don’t readily cooperate. Those who can’t sit still or pay attention. Those who lash out at their peers for no reason. Those who defy any authority. In days past most likely there was just one all-encompassing description: problem child.
Problems. There are times we get instructions from a boss, or someone who has determined what our “job” should involve, what is going to be expected from us. When these requirements are unreasonable or at times really demanding, we hear their voice, “Is that going to be a problem?” If we’re worried about losing our position or a customer or even a friend, we may assure them with a hopeful, “Of course not.” At the same time we are scrambling in our thoughts for a solution that will be satisfactory and not stretch us beyond our abilities or limits.
Problems. A favorite character on the television series Downton Abbey expressed a rather depressing view of our earthly existence: “All of life is about problems we must try to solve. And the next and the next… until at last we die.” My goodness! I would hope I would have more to enjoy about living!
“Pardon me.” “I beg your pardon.” When we say those things we are really asking for someone’s forgiveness. It’s an apology.
Or maybe not. Especially when it’s accompanied by a rather haughty tone and an arched brow. Or perhaps we just want to get someone’s attention who is ignoring us or hadn’t noticed us.
I liked that old song that claimed, “I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden.” The fact was made clear that there would be rain mixed in with sunshine so we should enjoy the good times when we can.
Our Lord Jesus never promised that rose garden either. He said we would have problems in this world as well as the really big problem of sin… the one we can’t mitigate with a casual attitude. He also wanted us to enjoy the abundant life He planned for us as His children, not just endure life from one problem to the next.
And He also knew He would need to get our attention from time to time.
But I’m the one who needs to beg His pardon, who needs to cry, “Pardon me!” Oh, it’s not because He’s the one ignoring me or He hadn’t noticed I was standing there… at the foot of the cross.
I know it’s His “Great Faithfulness” that assures me that His pardon for my sin will always be there for me, even before I ask.
And then another wonderful P word is offered to me… the one that I love to sing about... “the peace that endureth.”
Ah… that peace… that hope that brightens all of my tomorrows… the source of my joy!