The Terrible Tooth

June 6th, 2008 by Rainey

So…everyone always talks about how hard it is when your baby learns how to say “No” when they hit the toddler years. But no one talks much about how hard it is when your baby can’t talk yet and all they can do is cry to tell you they are uncomfortable. Nothing you do can fix it. They can’t tell you how you can help. So it is trial and error and a lot of luck as you try to figure out how to help and soothe and comfort.

We have entered one of the harder weeks of teething this week with Zeke. It seems like this child has been working on getting teeth for months now. The drool! The gumming everything in sight! The drool! But now they are really hurting him. He has been in visible pain, chomping down on whatever he can get his mouth around–which is nothing new. But also he has trouble nursing, rearing back and crying every once in a while because his gums hurt. He also is having trouble sleeping–which is also nothing new–though it seems to affect naps a good bit more than night time. (Thank you, Lord that Zeke is sleeping better at night!)

The worst part is that he is just unhappy. Zeke is generally just a cheerful baby. Unless he is tired, bored, hungry, or has a dirty diaper–all fairly easy things to rectify (except for the sleepiness)–he is all smiles and coos. Except for this week he has had a few meltdowns that nothing will fix. Not even nursing. He just has to cry and hurt and it just SUCKS.

It is actually physically painful for me to hear Zeke cry and scream out in pain and not be able to fix it beyond the regular dose of tylenol and holding him close. No one tells you about that.

There are people at our church who have lost children. More people than you would think, looking at the congregation from the outside. I cannot begin to imagine what they have been through. I cannot begin to imagine how they have managed to return to church. To sit in pews. To keep going. The amount of love you feel for your child is overwhelming. It takes over any cognitive process you have. It isn’t rational. When your child is in pain, you are in pain. What would it mean to lose a part of your heart like that?

I know this is going to sound especially dorky, but I have been thinking a lot about what it must be like for God to care for the world and humanity like he does as I travel through these days. If I hurt and cry and just am in pain because my child is in pain because of TEETHING…how much more, I have to wonder, does God hurt for his people? Those who are starving? Those who are in abusive situations? Those who are depressed? Those who hurt themselves? Those who are being killed? Those who are being routinely extinguished and tortured by governments? Those who hurt others? If we think about God as parent…and there is a good bit of imagery in the Bible that would lead us to do that…then God must hurt for his children in ways far beyond my imagination.

Think about how vulnerable God is because of his love for the world. So vulnerable that he would do anything to help us get out of the mess we have made of things, including the incarnation. The crucifixion. The resurrection.

I was driving to work the other day and began thinking “God loves that person” each time I passed someone. An angry looking woman at the bus stop. A man riding his bicycle. A perfectly coiffed woman in her Mercedes with big dark sunglasses. The kid walking to school. It made me stop and see those people as people and not just pass them like scenery.

It is hard to even begin to imagine living in a world full of so much love and so much pain. How can we navigate this? How do I interact with people in a way that shares the love that I know God has for them and for me? It is sort of overwhelming, frankly.

Sort of like being in love. Sort of like being a parent.

Isaiah 49:13-16

13Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones.
14But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.’
15Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
16See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.

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