I awoke suddenly in the middle of the night, bolting upright on the side of the bed. Pain radiated throughout my body. It felt like someone had lit a match inside and set me on fire.
My husband rubbed my back and grabbed the heating pad to help alleviate the discomfort.
After a while, the severe pain began to subside, and I was able to resume a semi-comfortable position. Our doctor lived fifty miles away, so we ultimately decided to wait and call him when his office opened in a few short hours. We called at 9:00 a.m. and made an appointment. The office gave us his earliest time available: 4 ½ hours later.
When my family doctor finally examined me, he offered several options. “It could be your appendix, but, no offense, that usually happens to younger adults, teens and children.”
Made my day! None of the other symptoms made sense either. Unsure what to label this internal problem, he scheduled an appointment for me immediately across the hall with a surgeon. After a brief wait, the surgeon listened to my complaints, then poked one place on my lower, right abdomen. I nearly jumped off the table.
“Yep,” he smiled knowingly. “It is your appendix.”
“But I thought…my other doctor said…appendicitis was something that happened to younger people. Isn’t that a childhood malady?”
I wanted to make sure this young doctor knew what he was talking about. I was not excited about submitting to a surgeon’s knife prematurely and was hoping he would say something like, “a severe case of adult heartburn.”
No Respecter of Age
He quickly diffused my argument. “I just did an appendectomy on a 72-year-old woman yesterday. The truth is, this childhood malady is no respecter of age. It happens all the time to adults.”
Suddenly I felt much younger than when I had entered his office. And besides that, I knew we had to deal with the reality of this pain problem. I needed to trust the physician. An hour and a half later I was in surgery. After three more hours, I was back home again. I like to call it my drive-through appendectomy.
That was over a decade ago, and I’ve often thought about that whirlwind experience. Remembering again both doctors’ words, I realized appendicitis is definitely not the only childhood malady that affects adults. Jesus talked about another one in Mark 9:33-37 and Matthew 18:1-5.
Childlike Faith and Humility
When Jesus heard the disciples arguing about who was to be the greatest in heaven, He seized a teachable moment to rebuke their childish problem: their hearts were burning with foolish jealousy and pride. Jesus hinted that instead of acting childish by wanting to be first, they needed to see the importance of child-likeness and put on a spirit of humility. Written between the lines Jesus could have said, “Eliminate the immature actions of a child, who has not grown to adult maturity. But learn from the innocent, childlike faith of little ones whom society considers the least.”
Using a small child nearby to illustrate his point, Jesus said these words:
“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3-4, NKJB).
An Internal Problem
Ouch! The Great Physician-Surgeon knew exactly how to label the disciples’ disease. It was definitely an internal problem and characteristic of multiple times that they and we must submit to God’s penetrating scalpel. Childish or childlike? They would learn the difference in time. So would I. It’s a matter of faith, trust, and humility.
The more I thought about it, the more I concluded that perhaps appendicitis is not so bad after all, compared to some other childhood maladies.
My Personal Prayer for You
Heavenly Father, teach us the difference between childish and childlike. Help us develop a sense of childlike faith in You by humbling ourselves and becoming as little children. Forgive us of pride that robs us of that kind of childlike faith. As we come to You in honesty and humility, You will make us Your children, a part of Your kingdom family. Thank You for Your scalpel of love that disciplines us and guides us to see ourselves as You do. You are a good, good Father, and we love you!
It’s Your Turn
What about you? What has God taught you about childish or childlike behavior? How have you developed childlike faith? I love to hear from readers. You can always write me through my contact page. Just fill out the basic name and address info, and then the email will come to me. Your name or info will never be shared with anyone without your permission.
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