Monday, March 14, 2011

Playing Through The Pain

"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength." 
Isaiah 40:30

When the children's school's telephone number pops up on our caller I.D., I know it is usually one of three things:  a recorded message for all of the students' parents, a prayer request, or the school nurse.  A few Fridays ago as I was home folding laundry, the phone rang and up popped the school's number.  I answered with a bit of hesitation knowing that, if it was the school nurse, one of our cherubs wasn't well. 

Our school is blessed with a wonderful, calm, caring and wise school nurse.  She is a sweetheart.  And while, thankfully, we don't receive calls from her too often, it is always a little unsettling to receive a call and hear her sweet voice on the other end.  (One of these days, I am thinking she is going to call me simply for a lunch date or to chat!)

"Hi, Sharon.  It's Karen from school."  The school nurse.  Those few seconds from hearing her voice until knowing which cherub was in her office and what the problem was seemed forever.  "Joshua injured his left thumb at recess playing basketball.  It is very swollen and black and blue."  Now this would never be good news, but this particular Friday was the eve of Joshua's basketball team's championship game on Saturday and the league's All-Star game on Sunday afternoon.  An injured thumb could mean he would be cheering his team mates on from the bench rather than playing with the team in the games.

After talking with Karen and getting both her nurse perspective and her mom perspective, I told her I would call his pediatrician and be right down to school to take him for medical care and an x-ray.   His thumb was not misshapen, no bones were sticking out and there was no blood.  While she did not think his injury was serious, and Joshua had gone back to class once before coming to her office again for more ice, we both thought it best to get an an x-ray. 

I asked to speak with Joshua over the phone to be sure he was OK and so he could hear my voice and reassuring words before heading down to school.  "Mom, I don't want to leave school early.  I want to stay.  I don't want to miss the afternoon classes.  In music, we are starting to learn about a new composer today and I don't want to miss the video on him.  I will be OK, mom.  My thumb really hurts, but I will be OK.  Can I stay, mom?" 

Knowing that I often ask God to direct me through my children, I felt He was quieting my heart with His perfect parental love.  Taking Joshua's cues and trusting he would tell me if the pain was intolerable, I respected his request to stay in school.  I was glad he wanted to stay for class, and I am sure the weekend's basketball games were on his mind as well.

When I picked the cherubs up from school that day at regular dismissal time, I took a good look at Joshua's thumb.  It was very swollen and quite black and blue.  "Mom, I really don't want to get an x-ray until after the games this weekend.  I can play, Mom."  Proud of him for his courage and tenacity, I told him we would do whatever Daddy thought was best.

When Jim arrived home from work Friday evening, he carefully looked at Joshua's thumb.  Jim was the Team Medic for Joshua's football team a few years ago, and he is also the coach of both of our cherubs' basketball teams.  He was considering the situation from several perspetives - medic and coach, but most of all as Joshua's father.

After talking with Joshua, Jim said to him, "Joshua, I think it is OK for you to play through the pain this weekend.  You can play in the championship game and the All-Star game.  I've asked God for His wisdom and protection.  I think you can play through the pain." 
As soon as Jim uttered those words to Joshua, I could see Joshua's confidence and courage immediately confirmed and validated.  "Mom, Dad told me to play through the pain.  I can play, Mom!  I am going to play through the pain!" 

Words from a loving father.  "Play through the pain."  How poignant.  Often, our Heavenly Father leads us to "play through the pain".  Pain from unfair judgment and criticism, pain due to a broken relationship, pain from lack of mercy and unforgiveness,  pain from consequences of our own sin, pain from loss, pain from tragic circumstances, pain from conviction.  Whether our pain is physical, emotional or spiritual, God may instruct us to continue to "play".
Joshua playing through the pain.

Sometimes when I am in such pain, I want to run and hide. Honestly, when the pain seems intolerable, sometimes I'd rather quit the team.  But our Heavenly Father strengthens us and His sufficient grace washes over us so we can play through the pain.  He is our confidence and hope.  "For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth."  (Psalm 71:5) 

Like Hagar in Chapter 16 of Genesis, He finds us in our desert, in our misery, and He speaks to us.  He washes us with His Word and whispers His promises into our hearts.  Our Heavenly Father refreshes us.  He is the God who sees and provides.  Genesis 16.  He gives us everything we need for life and godliness.  (2 Peter 1:3)

Life's pain won't sideline us when our Heavenly Father whispers His words to us:  "Play through the pain, My child."  He gives us the courage and tenacity we need.  Whether He calls us to cheer from the sideliness or get in the game, He is our sufficiency.

We did not ignore Joshua's injury and pain, we just waited while he played through the pain during two significant challenges.  On Sunday afternoon after the All-Star game (which Joshua's team won...Glory to God!!), we took him straight to the emergency room for an x-ray.  Joshua's thumb had a buckle fracture, which required only a splint to protect his thumb.  God does not ignore our injury and pain either.  Sometimes we just have to endure and play through the pain a while.   "Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."  James 1:4      

The pediatric orthopedic doctor gave Joshua permission to continue playing sports while his broken bone is healing.  In the doctor's words, "The splint will provide perfect protection while allowing him to be fully active."  That reminds me of our Great Physician's perfect care.
"He gives strength to the weary
   and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall; 
but those who hope in the LORD
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint." 
Isaiah 40:29-31

 Glory to God! 


Heather said...

LOVE this post!! Way to go Joshua....way to go GOD!

Proud of your sweet boy!


Mich said...

Believe it or not, I needed this today. Sometimes the cruddy part of life in this world can get to me. Thanks for the encouragement to keep plugging along.

I love it when God uses our kiddos to teach us valuable lessons.

Fields of gold said...

I love the encouragement Jim gave Joshua... just like our heavenly Father cheers us on through the pain. This is a beautiful post! From a beautiful heart!!

Love you

Kelly Combs said...

This is excellent writing Sharon.
I love your stories of faith, and encouragement.

Be blessed!

kandice said...

This is an incredibly personal and inspiring story...thanks so much for sharing it. What an amazing little guy you have! I'd like to introduce you to Emery Miller. If you haven't heard of him, he's a 12-yr-old with a heart condition and has already undergone 4 heart surgeries! He's an inspiration to us here in AZ. If you're interested, you can check out his sotyr on Thanks!!