Finding Fun in Suffering

“When I grow up, I want to be a daddy so I can lay in bed with snuggly blankets.” That’s the grand ambition of my pint sized princess. Chronic health problems have their benefits I guess. It’s kinda embarrassing that my princess views me this way, but I’m also thankful God has enabled me to make sickness look at least a little bit fun.

It’s usually not very fun to be really sick, but I’m learning to pay more attention to the fun that does exist. I have so many reasons to give thanks! Last night was pretty rough. I’ve been trembling with muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, and exhaustion for 5 days straight. (Don’t worry—it’s not a medical emergency. This happens a lot and I’m currently feeling a tad better. YEEHAW!) I got tired of crying and decided to smile instead, so I began counting the unique pleasures I would have never experienced without this pain and suffering. (Incidentally, did you know that if you rearrange the letters in “Suffering” you can spell “Fun griefs?” You can literally find “fun” in suffering.) My daughter is right, there are some parts of being super sick that are actually kinda fun! Here are just a few…

The Cuddle Piles: I often have days when I can’t do much besides collapse in bed and tremble in pain. This is intensely lonely and just plain not fun. But my kids are great at helping me turn my pain into a party. We can’t go for walks, play ball, wrestle, or dance like we want to, but we can be together. It doesn’t matter that I’m sometimes too weak to talk, lift my head, or even open my eyes. They’ll sit on my back, snuggle into the crook of my arm, hold my hand, or rub my head and simply enjoy being with Daddy. This rocks!

The Music: Thanks to the magic of internet, I can access everything from rich Christian music to Broadway showtunes no matter how I’m feeling. That’s amazing! When I’m too sick to sing or struggling to think straight due to pain, I just play music and lip-sync praise songs to my Savior. My kids love music and are quick to request their favorite tunes first thing in the morning. (Our Party Girl loves “WhooOooOooO! BOOM! BOOM!” from Disney’s “The Greatest Showman”—truly a great start to any morning!)

The Boxes & Bubble Wrap: It’s fun getting stuff in the mail. We’ve been ordering lots of pills, supplements, and other stuff online and it often arrives wrapped bountifully in blessed bubble wrap. My kids love this stuff! Stomping it, rolling on it, pinching it, and stabbing it with toothpicks is a lot of fun. Each new package is greeted with anticipation. It’s more than a box of Pantothenic Acid capsules—it’s an adventure waiting to happen! We also regularly get cards or packages with encouraging notes, stickers for the kids, or gift cards for ice cream. Our mail box has transformed into a treasure box.

The Snuggly Blanket: During the long cold winter, I got to spend entire days snuggled up in my extremely soft blanket that’s actually LARGE ENOUGH to cover my entire body at once! (Fellow freakishly tall folks will understand just how wonderful this is.) Stuck in the house on Saturday morning cause Dad is too sick to sit up? No problem—kids (particularly 9 year old boys) can transform this blanket into a groovy fort with ease!

The Cheesecake Pill: I’ve got over 25 different kinds of pills to take every day. (I even get to enjoy some of them 3 times a day!) One of these pills is purple and smells like cheesecake. That makes me smile. (Of course it tastes like aluminum foil, but that’s beside the point.)

The Books: So many times I’ve said, “I wish I could just curl up in bed with a good book all day.” Wish granted! I’ve polished off various books of the Bible, the gripping Wingfeather saga (I’m still bitter about how it ended), multiple missionary biographies, and even delved into some new authors.

The Stories: Disease may prohibit a romp in the park or a visit to the zoo, but it can’t stop us from traipsing past the gummi bear vine to wish the lightning bug a cheery “Bzzz, Uzzz, Bzzz” (i.e. “Good Morning!”) or wandering down the pretty path, through the deep dark woods, and crossing the rainbow bridge (constructed entirely from Lego® bricks) to have pizza parties with Unicorn and Batman. I’ve always enjoyed story-telling, but right now it’s an especially fantastic blessing.

These are just a few blessings that would never have been enjoyed so extravagantly if I wasn’t really sick. Life is rough right now, but there’s still a lot of fun and fantastic reasons to enjoy the life God has given. Sharing these things with my kids has helped all of us grow closer as a family and it’s also giving them a front row seat to watch how God gives good gifts even in the presence of pain and problems.

Have you noticed ways God’s blessings seem more pronounced during pain or problems? Please comment and share how His simple gifts have helped you experience joy in the midst of trials.

Nathan Hamilton
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