Lessons in life's trenches

I come in the front door. My son’s screaming. I go upstairs to see him half dressed in his cot, bawling his eyes out.

My wife’s on the bed. She’s given up putting his pyjamas on because he’s too strong. He screamed, and kicked and hit.

This was her restful day – twenty-eight weeks pregnant and coping with her mum’s rapid deterioration to an aggressive cancer.

I wrestled Josiah into his pyjamas. I tried soothing him. I tried singing. I tried Bob the Builder.

The tears kept rolling down his eyes. He was screeching, repeatedly. Inconsolably. He needed to sleep.

I rocked him, trying to get his eyes closed. His eyes widened. My eyes filled - filled with pain for my mother-in-law. Filled with pain for my grieving wife.

Still screaming, I prayed that he’d stop.

He didn’t.

I asked God something which many of his children have asked him down the centuries.

Why now?

Why is it now – after a weekend in a cancer ward - that my son gives up his routine? That his two biggest teeth decide to come through? That he’s lost his mind?!

Why now, Lord?

My prayer was barbed. I wanted God’s answer to be a quiet, sleeping child. Instead, he gave me something better.

I put Josiah down in his cot. He stood back up to scream at me some more.

And like a gift from heaven, I saw myself. A rebellious son, hearing his Father’s voice, but thinking I know best. Thinking my way is better. Slow to obedience. Quick to mistrust. Temper-tantruming.

I looked at my screaming son and saw a patient Father. I felt his grace to forgive me – his rebellious son – and received his grace for me to forgive my own rebellious son.

With Josiah still screaming, I knelt on the carpet and thanked God for his timing. Timing to teach the perfect lessons in the mess of life’s trenches.