In my life personally and as a parent, I have seen again and again the way God leads us through challenges and gives us the strength to face them. My youngest son, Ethan, is a great example of this. At Ethan’s first dentist visit as a toddler, we found out his teeth had no enamel on them to protect them from cavities, and already he had multiple cavities that would have to be treated. Because of his very small mouth, strong gag reflux, and tremendous will, he had to be given a sedative and a relaxer each time he went in for treatment. Typically, his will would win out over the Demerol and laughing gas, and David and I would have to hold him down. A few times his fight persisted longer than our ability to restrain him and we’ve had to put him in a little papoose; Velcro-ing his hands and feet inside of it in order to finish. Each time, I’d cry and pray that the Lord would help him through it and heal him.
Two years ago, at age 7, he had to have several cavities filled and a root canal done. All of our hearts sank at the news that we would again have to fight this battle, and then they dropped even more when we heard these words, “Mom and Dad, We want you to wait in the waiting room. We want to see if he is better on his own.”
On treatment day, we had a very quiet drive to the dentist’s office. He was scared, he didn’t want to be restrained again, and he wanted us with him. As we pulled in, I knew I had just a moment to prepare him for what was to come. None of the typical pep talks felt right to me. Instead, I said, “Ethan you can’t do it on your own. You are not strong enough, and you don’t have to be, because Jesus in you is big enough, he is strong enough, and he will give you the strength you need to get through this. So right now, and again when you go in, I want you to say this prayer – ‘Jesus, be BIG in me’. And, when you get scared, or feel like fighting to get up, I want you to say it again, and again, as many times as you need to.”
When the procedure was over, the nurse came out and said Ethan had done the best ever. When I got to see him, I asked him if he had to say his prayer. He said, “Yes, and I felt like I was at home – watching TV, on my own couch.” And he was at total peace.
What was true for Ethan is true for all of us, as well. Jesus said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” When we are weak, he is strong, when it seems our struggles are too much for us – we can cry out to him for the strength to endure and overcome. We don’t have to face any situations on our own.