The Lion is sick right now. Nothing serious but he has a fever and some patches of hives. (If it is serious, and I’m oblivious, and you know better, let me know!) The itchy hives are making it tough for him to sleep. We were up quite a bit with him last night and he’s been whimpering a lot tonight already. Last night, I tried to get him to sleep on the couch with me. I thought, “He’s so clingy that maybe if I get him to just snuggle, he’ll calm down and fall asleep.” Poor guy did not stop moving! He was just rubbing his feet together, trying to scratch the hives on his ankles. I finally gave up and decided to put him back in bed, knowing that being with me wasn’t helping him sleep and he would hopefully be better off in his own bed. Having learned my lesson last night, the plan for tonight is to just let him be, to let him get over it and go back to sleep on his own because my intervention only proves a distraction and doesn’t help him get to sleep.
However, in his mind, I am certain, he is saying “Dudes! I don’t feel good! Why is no one coming to hug me when I’m sad!? … … … Hello!? Is anyone there? Does someone care about me? … … … I don’t feel good!”
How often have we been in a similar situation with our Heavenly Father? I imagine it a bit like trying to wave down a rescue plane.
We are struggling and having this horrible trial and we want out. We are ready to be done, or at the very least, we are ready for someone to hear of our tribulation. But no answer comes. We feel we aren’t being heard.
Trust me – I hear The Lion. The reason I got up with him last night is because I have a hard time sleeping when he is sick. I’m listening with bated breath to every whimper, every cough and every cry. I wish I could just cuddle him all night and keep him safe but I know, in the current situation, that wouldn’t help. I long to help him and fix everything for him. Are these not the feelings of our Heavenly Father? I am pretty certain that every prayer is heard. I am pretty certain He listens harder when we are struggling, just as I do when my kids aren’t feeling well. Sometimes, however, an immediate answer or a swift rescue is not what is expedient for our benefit and the larger plan. I saw heard a quote this evening from Elder Scott in the October 1995 General Conference that says, “Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed [emphasis added] for your personal benefit or for that of those you love.” That is definitely more generous than what I do as a parent but the point is there. I never want my children to go through difficulty or struggles unless there is a purpose behind it.
In an amazing talk called Bread or Stones: Understanding the God We Pray to, S. Michael Wilcox discusses the idea of a “fourth watch God” in regards to Mark, Chapter 6. He talks about how it is not until the 4th watch (from 3am to sunrise) is when Jesus finally came to help the apostles who, for hours, had been struggling to row against the wind. He says, “So when the trials aren’t over and the blessings don’t come, don’t assume that He is not there, or He is not listening, or He doesn’t care, or you’re not worthy. Always assume you have not yet reached the fourth watch.” He goes on to explain, what to do if you feel as if you are in the 9th watch. It is truly fantastic talk. Take a minute, or more like 5 minutes, to read it. I promise you will feel something that will give you hope, no matter what your trial may be. Maybe I should read it to The Lion.
In the meantime, I am going to call it a night while The Lion is quiet because he may become a fourth watch need-more-medicine-in-order-to-sleep kiddo.
One last thing, whatever your trial or your struggle may be – say a prayer to your God asking him how he feels about you. The answer with give you hope and strength to get through this next watch.