In the midst of the joy of having Jude and Sophie home, the single worst day was when I took them to get their first round of immunizations. They had no idea what was coming and of course they screamed in pain when they received their shots. What hurt me most was the look of surprise on their faces, like I had betrayed them or something.
I did everything I could to make it up to them. I must have said “I’m so sorry” a hundred times before we got in the car. I drove straight to the Ice Cream and Pie Kitchen and basically offered them the store. But for many days after, even when the pain was certainly gone, Sophie would still come to me and point to her shoulder and give me the most pitiful look. Jude would make a face whenever anyone said the word “doctor.” And I had no way to explain that it was for their good, because I love them, and not just a cruel joke.
William Wilberforce once observed his granddaughter receive a vaccination. It was following the untimely death of his daughter Lizzie, and as biographer Eric Metaxes explains, Lizzie’s daughter “gave her grandfather some consolation and prompted this rumination on God and suffering: “‘I was much impressed yesterday’ he wrote:
’...with the similarity in some respects of my own situation to that of [Lizzie’s] dear little innocent, who was undergoing the operation of vaccination. The infant gave up its arm to the operator without suspicion or fear. But when it felt the puncture, which must have been sharp, no words can express the astonishment and grief that followed. I could not have thought the mouth could have been distended so widely as it continued, till the nurse’s soothing restored her usual calmness. What an illustration is this of the impatient feelings we are often apt to experience, and sometimes even to express, when suffering from the dispensations of a Being, whose wisdom we profess to believe to be unerring, whose kindness we know to be unfailing, whose truth also is sure, and who has declared to us, that all things shall work together for good to them that love Him, and that the object of His inflictions is to make us partakers of His holiness.’” Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxes, pp. 270-271
How do we react when we feel the sharp poke of God’s providence? Unlike my new children who don’t know me very well yet and are understandably confused, we know God to be perfectly wise and loving. We have proof in the cross of Jesus Christ. And yet, as Wilberforce observes, we still respond with impatient surprise, quickly forgetting that whatever God ordains, no matter how painful, is for our good and His glory.
Jude and Sophie do not know that in my desk drawer lies a schedule from the doctor for many more shots in the months ahead. But these immunizations will protect them from serious diseases that could otherwise take their lives. We do not know what trials God has ordained for us to endure. But we can trust our Heavenly Physician because we know that “The object of His inflictions is to make us partakers in His holiness.”