"In the next two-and-a-half weeks we have to finish our classes, take a boatload of exams, pack up our apartment, say our good-byes, and travel from Canada to Florida. And we do not have any time to be sick!"
That is exactly what I was thinking two weeks ago, a little after midnight, as Thea lay on the couch sick. Not just sick, but that stomach-bug, throwing up kind of sick. But as she lay sick I was thinking more of myself than I was for her. Now I surely do not want my children to be sick and I hate seeing them feel bad, but when they are sick we can generally still function reasonably well as a family. I can finish classes, take exams, and pack cars when the kids are ill. I cannot, however, effectively do those things when I am sick.
And I thought those things about seven feet away from where Thea lay on the couch. I had determined that my seven feet proximity was a safe distance so as not to be contaminated with the germs that would make my already interesting next two weeks even more memorable. I was keeping a safe distance as to avoid possible contamination.
Now I am far from a germ-o-phobe, not even close, but I wanted to be prudent and wise with all that the next few weeks were going to bring into the life of our family.
As I normally do when the children are sick, I prayed with Thea and asked God for His help and I especially asked Him to be very near to Thea while she did not feel well.
And it was then that God got my attention: I was praying for God to be with Thea as I sat a safe seven feet away. In that moment it was not so much an indictment of my lack of compassion, though it surely was that. More so, it was a realization of the compassion of God in coming near to us. Our God is not a God who keeps a safe distance from us and idly watches as we suffer and struggle. He is a God who is near at hand. He tells us that He is an ever present help in time of need. Not a bystander who is afraid of being contaminated, but a caring God who is there with His people and is for His people.
After I prayed, and saw the obvious lack of Christ-like reflection in my own life, I left my chair, entered the contamination zone, and sat by Thea as she lay on the couch. And as I rubbed my sick daughter's feet I thought of the nearness of God to His people and the comfort that brings.
As I type this, Thea feels great, I never got sick, I took all of my exams, and God has been near. It simply does not get any better than that.