Yesterday I dandled a friend’s baby on my lap. What a sweet lump of flesh! Despite drooling and clumsy efforts to hold a toy, he charmed all in sight. What a contrast to a night or two earlier. That night I lay awake in the wee hours of the morning while my son and his wife paced the floor carrying their infant daughter as she howled from the pain of an ear infection. How we wished we could relieve her discomfort!
When Jesus was born, Luke tells us Mary “wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger.” Thus Jesus’ first hours in this world offered several new tactile sensations. He felt the warmth and comfort of Mary’s breast, her arms hugging her newborn son. She swaddled her son in strips of cloth, tightly binding his small limbs and providing a sense of security. And perhaps, there in the manger, a renegade piece of hay poked his tender skin, provoking a cry of distress. Hunger and gas pains may have caused him to cry out too. Those first hours offered sensations of security, confinement, and pleasure but also his first taste of discomfort. And when he cried out in the middle of the night, Mary drew him out of the manger and held him close to her breast. Just as my son and his wife rocked their infant daughter as she cried in pain, Mary too comforted her son.
All of these “sense”ations – including discomfort – are normal, expected parts of our experiences also. While we welcome the feelings of comfort and security, however, we often strive to avoid any sensation that is unpleasant. Peter wrote in his first epistle, “Don’t be surprised by fiery trials.” But think! When we cry out in pain, that is the very moment when our Heavenly Father lifts us up and draws us closest to his chest.
Take a moment to read Psalm 116:1-9. Note how tenderly the Father seeks to comfort us when we are in times of distress. You may not be feeling the poke of a piece of straw or the cramps of gas in your tummy, but whatever the cause of your pain, be assured that your Father in heaven is ready to carry you in his arms at any hour of the day or night.