Caleb’s slice of Crumbly Cake, one of the coffee cakes I enjoying baking for our family, lay in jumbled pieces on his plate. It was apparent that Caleb had just picked it over without lifting a bite to his mouth.
“Caleb,” I asked. “Are you okay?”
Caleb replied abruptly, “I’m fine, Mom.”
Yet, as I studied my child’s face, and the vacant stare he gave me, Caleb’s answer did not satisfy.
“Caleb,” I asked again, “Is anything wrong?”
“Mom,” he blurted, “I’m fine! I’m not sick!”
John and I glanced at each other.
John entered into the conversation, “Caleb, I have overheard you clearing your throat this morning. A lot. Are you sure there isn’t something?”
I decided to be more direct and didn’t give Caleb an opportunity to reply.
“Caleb, is your throat bothering you? Tell me the truth.”
Caleb’s shoulders sagged as he answered, “Yes, Mom. My throat hurts.”
I walked over to him and placed my hand on Caleb’s forehead. It was warm.
“Caleb, why didn’t you want to tell us that you didn’t feel well?” I asked.
“I was afraid.”
“What are you afraid of?”
“I don’t want to miss school tomorrow,” Caleb replied. “I don’t want to get behind in my work.”
As many of you know, the boys and I are departing for the States for a quick five week visit to spend time with our family in November. It’s an opportunity to make some more memories with my parents and John’s mom especially while we can. Our next home assignment is at least two years away. We felt that was too long of a time separation for the boys and their grandparents. When the opportunity arose to travel, we took it.
This has meant that Caleb and his brothers, Micah and Jake, are working doubly hard to finish their school work before we depart. Our South African school year typically ends at the end of November. We want to finish everything up before we travel to the States so that our time may be focused upon our family and friends and not our studies.
Thus, Caleb was concerned about being sick and not being able to do his work tomorrow.
He didn’t want a sore throat to compromise his goal.
Although John and I admire Caleb’s determination to stay focused on his school work, for our family, sore throats tend to be a problem which morph into something more painful and debilitating. We are susceptible to throat infections that lay us flat – the whole family.
Our doctor has actually commended us for sharing these germs in past visits. She has said on more than one occasion, “I know you are a close family by the fact that all of you get sick at the same time. Too many of my patients have disconnected relationships with their children. Not you.”
Well, that’s one way of looking at being sick as a family!
I looked down Caleb’s throat and observed its redness. His glands were swollen. He didn’t want to eat. There’s not much we can do today as it is a Sunday other than give him lots of liquids, provide pain relief, see that he rests, and then determine our course of action tomorrow morning. Thus, we wait.
This is the wise thing to do.
We aren’t going to ignore the signs and symptoms of ill health that we are observing in our son.
One of our family’s ‘go-to’ verses is Proverbs 27:12:
The prudent sees danger and takes refuge,
The simple keep going and suffers for it.
These wise words have guided our family in a variety of ways and with a variety of decisions we have needed to make over many years.
Caleb was choosing a simple course of action for his sore throat.
Ignore it and perhaps it will go away.
Sore throats do go away. Some are definitely less severe than others.
Yet, in Caleb’s case, his sore throat was altering his behavior and causing him distress. His anxiety over what the effects of his sore throat would be on the following school day was causing him to deny his pain.
What Caleb needed to do was acknowledge the pain and allow us to assist him, so we could forge a healthy course of action. The pain was a warning sign that something was amiss – it wasn’t something for Caleb to fear, but actually to embrace!
And so we are!
Friends, many of us are capable of allowing ourselves to be ensnared by similar fears and dangers.
We sense that tickle or lurch in our tummies that tells us that the path we are walking is unwise, but we keep going as we hope that something good will appear just around the bend….
We feel the tug of complacency and think that standing against compromise would take too much work, cause too many waves and make us too vulnerable….
We are besieged with fear over what may happen tomorrow or in the near future and so we keep quiet, remain anxious, and suffer in paralysis….
Or we do just the opposite with our fear, instead of being quiet, we yell and shout our fears, cloaking them in self-justification, without seeking refuge from the One who is able to calm and steady us.
Friends, just as Caleb needed to share what burdened him in order to receive love, care and support to calm and steady him in life, we do too.
For our God has not granted us knowledge of the future, nor were we ever designed to go this crazy, confusing, discombobulating life alone.
Our God offers us hope and prudence instead. In hope, we anticipate blessing and assurance. Yet, it is with prudence, that we are given the insight and ability to traverse the dangerous, problematic, and challenging pathways in life. Without prudence, we open ourselves to foolhardy consequence and our hopes are left unrealized.
Caleb almost did that. His hope was to attend the Happy Blue School tomorrow. This was and remains his desire.
Yet, if he had continued with his ways of denying his symptomatic pain, his lack of prudency may have resulted in more severe consequences.
Thankfully, our son chose the pathway of the wise.
Caleb took refuge and hid himself away in the love and care of his parents and his God. For ultimately, when we as Believers hide ourselves away from the fears and evil snares of this world, we are hiding ourselves in Christ and under the All-Knowing and All-Seeing sight of God. And it is there we find peace assurance, care and protection – no matter what is happening in the world – whether it be wanting to go to school tomorrow or even choosing whom to vote for in a national election.
Our family believes that hope without prudence is folly.
For our family, we seek to be wise and walk a prudent path with our hope for tomorrow assured in Christ. Hope and prudence are part of our family’s lifeblood as we work out living in this crazy, confusing, discombobulating world together.
This is the life lesson we continue to instill in our children as they grow towards adulthood.
Where do you see the need to be prudent in your life today?
Are hope and prudence part of your lifeblood?