I gather that it is not abnormal to have an argument with a six year-old child. I’ll save you the details leading up to the debate I had with my young daughter last night and just say that we had an encounter I would like to soon forget (but, no doubt, my writing this post will cause it to linger in my memory!).
Realizing (a bit late) the degree to which my daughter was upset, I began to try and make amends. Her words in a tearful reply were piercing, ‘Papa, we always fight and we never have fun.’
I couldn’t understand such a perspective. It couldn’t be further from reality. I checked in with my wife, who was downstairs, and she confirmed how rare it was for my daughter and I to not be having a fun time with things. She rarely cries in my presence and 99% of the time we thoroughly enjoy spending time together.
My wife consoled me by explaining that 6-year-olds are more acutely ‘in the moment’ than adults. If a 6-year-old is sad, distressed, or angry, they have trouble fitting it into the context of a long-standing relationship that is fun and healthy. For them, the present argument is a perpetual one; a moment without fun is an extended season without fun.
Such a perspective rattled me. It breaks my heart to hear my daughter articulate that we ‘always fight’ and ‘never have fun’. And even though that’s verifiably not true, her feelings were nonetheless real. Her perception was not put on.
Reeling from this exchange, I began to think about my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I began to sense that I probably do the same thing with Him. For all of my life, He has poured out grace upon grace and mercy upon mercy, but in the day of trial we often think God is picking on us. We begin to wonder about His fairness and why He ‘always’ seems to make us walk the difficult path.
I began to realize how acutely ‘in the moment’ I tend to be in my relationship with God.
I’m not alone in this. My mind went to Job, who endured far more hardship than I likely ever will (see Job 1:13-19). I recall how Job’s perception of reality became skewed amid suffering. Here is a sample of his perspective:
My complaint is bitter; His hand is heavy in spite of my groaning. If only I knew where to find Him…I would state my case before Him and fill my mouth with arguments (Job 23:2-4).
Job felt justified in his complaints. He was sure that God owed him an explanation. In the midst of his pain, Job was incapable of placing his present suffering in the context of how God had dealt with him all the days of his life. Simply put, Job’s perspective was skewed.
Eventually, God responds to Job in a way that continues to correct my own limited and skewed perspective:
Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?…Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?…(Where were you) when I said (to the sea), ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? Have you ever commanded the morning, or shown dawn its place? (Job 38:2, 4, 11, 12).
I can’t be too hard on my daughter for harbouring a skewed perspective, because I am pretty sure that I harbour the same when it comes to my understanding of God’s providence. With my limited vantage point, I question what I see. I wonder, ‘Why is God allowing this?’ So much is beyond my comprehension. Job eventually got this. I hope I can always bear this in mind. My perspective is skewed because it is small. My perspective is skewed because it is limited to time and space.
When I see something, or experience something, that I cannot comprehend, I must resolve to trust God. I am being looked after by the One who ‘commanded the morning’! I am being cared for by One who promises that all things are being carefully arranged for my ultimate good (see Romans 8:28).
Lord, forgive me for my limited, skewed, perspective.