The conversation around the breakfast table went something like this:
Me: Foster, would you like to go and visit the fire station today?
Foster: No, thank you.
Me: (Surprised.) Really? I thought you’d love to see the fire station. You’ll get to see the firemen and the trucks up close.
Foster: (Around a mouthful of cereal.) Naaaaa. But thanks.
Me: It’s a special day, today. They are having a party at the fire station. There will be clowns, and a bouncy house. They’ll serve hot dogs and popcorn and snow-cones.
Foster: I’d really rather not.
Me: (Perplexed.) Foster, why in the world don’t you want to go to the fire station?
Foster: Because I heard you and Jay’s mom talking, and I know it’s all a big trick. They’re giving shots there, today.
That is one smart kid. Brilliant.
But in spite of the protests from both of my children, we visited the fire station. We ate hot dogs, popcorn, and snow-cones. We saw a clown. And, yes. We got our immunizations.
Well, I say we. But I mean they. You don’t think I’m gonna let somebody poke me with a needle, do you?
And in spite of all the pleasant distractions, the shots still hurt. But I was impressed with both of my kids. They were braver than I would have been. They didn’t even cry. Much.
Later, Mark and I decided that our kids deserved a treat. I mean, in addition to the bouncy house and the snow-cones. So we took them to Chuck E. Cheese’s. By the time we were finished eating, the kids seemed to have forgotten all about their immunizations and were running around playing every game they could get their hands on, contributing whole-heartedly to the decibel-breaking noise level, and winning tickets left and right.
Personally, I’d have rather had the shots. But this isn’t about me, and the kids loved it. I think they would probably even say the shots were worth it, just so they could go to their favorite eating establishment.
Later, in the car, Foster asked, “Mom, what is an im . . . im . . . iminemation?”
“Well,” I responded, “an immunization is a teensy, tiny bit of a disease. It’s like a bad guy. But when your body sees the bad guy, it makes a bunch of super-duper high-powered fighters, called antibodies. They are the good guys. Then, the good guys run off the bad guys, and they stick around to make sure they never come back. So if that disease ever enters your body again, they’ll be ready.”
“Oh,” he said. “They hurt.”
“I know, Buddy.”
Truth be told, as much as it hurt me to see my children in pain – however brief – I was relieved to know that they are now protected from such nasty diseases as chicken pox, rubella and diphtheria. The immunizations themselves weren’t pleasant. But the results of those immunizations created something far better than would have been possible without them. It created strong, healthy children who will not be affected by any number of nasty diseases.
Sometimes in life, we have to get our shots. They come in the forms of all kinds of nasty situations. A nail on the side of the road may cause a flat tire; a poor economy may lead to a job loss; for no known reason, we could be diagnosed with cancer, or worse.
Yet, if we let God have His way, He’ll make sure the bad guys work like immunizations to our spirits, calling forth the strength that may have been lying dormant within us, a strength that comes only from God. And before we know it, we’ll find that we’re handling our problems with a greater peace and serenity and faith than we ever thought possible.
Yeah, the shots hurt. No question about it. But when God’s in control, He’ll use those things to make us stronger, wiser, better people. And in the end, we’ll often end up saying that yes, the shots were worth the pain.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance,“ James 1:2 – 3.