Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Waiting for shalom

Shalom, noun:  Completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.

It's that elusive season when we sing about peace on earth, goodwill to men; yet our loved ones still get on our nerves, and something spills in a most inconvenient spot, and the toilet starts acting funny, and the holiday goodies don't agree with our stomach.

I finally called the doctor about Caleb's nighttime screaming.  I've heard small children crying and screaming before, but this was screaming.  Blood-curdling, alarming, terror-stricken screaming; not normal.  After hearing my concerns, the doctor said it sounded like night terrors.  

Night terrors are not to be confused with nightmares.  Nightmares happen during REM sleep, often wake the sufferer completely, and are usually distinctly memorable.  Night terrors happen during the transition from stage 3 to stage 4 non-REM sleep.  The sufferer seems to be awake but isn't actually, and typically has no memory of the experience in the morning.  

{The parents and siblings of the sufferer are typically traumatized and haggard in the morning, retaining a very distinct memory of the experience.}

Anyhoo, the doctor directed us to give Caleb Benadryl right before bed every night for a week.  The idea is to sedate him so he reaches deep sleep quickly and seamlessly, bypassing the transition stage that was tripping him up.  Presumably a week would be enough to reset his rhythm so his body would know how to sleep without freaking out.

Well, the Benadryl worked a miracle 7 nights in a row.  The silence it produced was very addictive for me.  

Tonight is the second night attempting to sleep drug-free; last night he didn't sleep well--but he didn't scream.  This was your run-of-the-mill crying.  He woke up today with a runny, stuffy nose, and you can hardly blame a child for crying at night when he can't breathe.  Hopefully we'll get some sleep tonight.  So far I've heard only repetitive singing of "The Little Drummer Boy" from his room.

Rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum.....

And still we sing about a silent night, when all was calm, and about the infant Word of God pleading silently for sinners.  

Our house isn't silent.  We have crying, and screaming, and aggrieved siblings, and frustrated parents, and snappish words. 

Nearly a year ago we had Ada checked out for a lump above her eye.  In recent months the one lump has turned into many lumps across one side of her forehead.  Instead of sending us to repeat the unpleasant experience at the eye doctor, the pediatrician sent us to..... a plastic surgeon.  

This is my eight-year-old daughter.  

The plastic surgeon is here in town.  He gave us a diagnosis that he's "80% sure" about--that they are benign cysts with no needed treatment--but since he 20% has no idea what they are, he's sending us to an even specialer specialist: a pediatric craniofacial plastic surgeon.  This one is 2 hours away--twice as far as the eye specialist and every other specialist we've seen for big scary stuff.  

And yet we sing that we need not fear, that nothing shall us affright, about angels telling us to "fear not."

The Incarnation introduced us to our Savior.  This Baby is the One who will make all things right.  He will not only end but reverse the curse.  He will completely remake all the brokenness that makes tummies hurt and toilets not work and children cry and unidentified lumps grow.  

Hebrew speakers have a better word than our typical translation, "peace."  Shalom is more than mere peace.  It is restoration.  It is wholeness.  It is everything made right.  It is what our souls long for.

The manger brought us closer than we'd ever been to shalom, but the newborn Christ was only the face of the promise.  The promise was accomplished 33 years later at an empty tomb near a Roman cross.

It is accomplished, yet our hearts are still crying out for shalom.  This is why it still takes faith to sing the glory of this sleeping newborn.  The nativity was the dawn of redeeming grace, not the accomplishment of it.  The cross is our sure hope, but not redemption fully realized.  It's already done, but not yet.  We're still at the dawn, waiting eagerly for the Sunrise.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

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