Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
September 7th, 2022
“Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes with the morning” Psalm 30:5
We’ve been having an exciting time in our household lately, as in the last two weeks, my two children have combinedly lost a total of 3 teeth! Toward the beginning, there is the fun and excitement of wiggling the loose tooth, yet the dread of the added pain on the horizon. I remember having that conflicting combination of emotions as a child well. They crescendo as the weeks pass!
I also remember, and I see it in my kids too, putting off the dreaded climax of pain, by eating foods in strange positions, trying to avoid use of the increasingly wobbly tooth. Imagine, for example, trying to eat a sandwich without using your front teeth! My kids did this for weeks as I thought (and occasionally said) “Let’s pull it out and get this done with already!” “No daddy! Nooo!!” they’d wail. “Alright…”
But then, inevitably, the crucial moment comes. Intense shrieks of pain and tears soon give way to shrieks of joy and giggles, as the kids show-off their tooth, now in their hand, and the resultant gap in their smile. :-b The fun continues in telling friends, as this is no doubt “big news” in elementary-grade classrooms. And there’s the promise for a bit of money to boot!*
In light of all this excitement – increasing pain and turmoil leading up to a crisis moment that ends-up resulting in joy, I got to reflecting on the life lessons it brings. We all know that pain and suffering are inevitable in life, yet after the valley of anguish, there is often relief and resultant gratitude that comes (see the Psalms verse quoted above). Children experiencing this pattern in a small, non-life- threatening way is an excellent way to teach this difficult yet necessary truth in life, and I found myself thankful to God that this is the process by which we grow up. Could this have been His intention in making our bodies to work like this? By doing this I’m not minimizing the ‘crisis’ in the kids’ minds, but I think our grown-up crises can look very similar to God. They are urgent and critical to us, but in His view, all is under control. Yet it can be a learning lesson.
I remember hearing a similar thought once regarding animals: after some years of bonding, the childhood experience of the loss of pets is bitter, but in reality is a gentle, helpful way for them to learn about the pain of death. It is certainly no small crisis in their minds, but they learn that, even after the loss, the sun shines again another day. Having lost a couple of pets in my childhood, I remember passing through those experiences with tears, yet the experience was a stepping stone for having to endure much larger loss, much more acute pain, later in life. Again, I wonder if dogs’ and cats’ short lifespans in relation to our own might have been made with the intention to facilitate life lessons for children.
So, I just find myself thankful to God that we have these “mini-experiences” that help us lead up to the big, truly daunting experiences we must go through in life. The harsh realities of this Great Controversy are oft devastating, but I find myself thankful that God has set up mini versions of these crises to prepare us, in the “kiddie pool” of childhood, when there are adults around us to support us, hug us, and assure us that everything is going to be okay.
Whenever we do suffer losses, small or large, let’s try to ask ourselves (and God) what future cause this could be preparing us for. Perhaps we can bring comfort to others in the future, going through a similar issue in their lives.
I pray peace and God’s blessings to you and your family members the remainder of this week and beyond.
Pr. Mark Tatum
*Though we don’t promote the idea of the “tooth fairy” with our kids at home, we do put a few dollars under their pillows as they sleep. While we were in Argentina a little over a month ago, we got to discussing children’s tooth-loss with Jime’s family down there, and I was laughingly surprised to find out that in Argentina, rather than a tale of a “tooth fairy”, the myth is of “Raton Perez” who comes and takes the tooth and leaves money – a rat! Lol!