“I love little children, and it is not a slight thing when they, who are fresh from God, love us.” Charles Dickens
Love is a strange emotion. There are times when we must show love with what may seem a cruel act. I mention this truth for we had to use with our son Vernon . He was about three then, a time when we lived in Neves, a small village that was a long day’s travel to the interior from the big city of São Paulo. Though we raised our children during this era of modern medicine yet certain things happened to them beyond the knowledge of the modern science that we ourselves knew.
We found out quickly that the village of Neves was safe from violence perhaps because it was surrounded with millions of coffee bushes. So Monica was able to go play as she pleased with her friends in the village, all without our supervision. Vernon was younger so he seldom went beyond our own small yard or the quiet street out front. There he played barefoot as did most of the other children , even though it we did not know at the time there could be a problem. You see, we as parents were still learning about that area of Brazil not knowing of course about any parasites that might bring trouble.
Vernon and Monica hard at work sucking on sugar cane in front of one of the million coffee bushes in the Neves area.
I quote from a note I wrote years ago. “One day we noticed a strange irregular line on his (Vernon’s) foot.” No doubt Doris saw it first on the bottom of his foot for it would have come to her notice since she would be giving him his evening bath. The wandering line was white with red all around it. Since we had little idea what it was, we were fortunate to be able to take our boy to the local doctor. Yes, I might say lucky but I understand it was “divine providence” for most small villages in that part of the state would have no doctor though perhaps a small pharmacy.
Vernon was not a happy camper as he was examined by the doctor; then the situation became worse not better. The doctor explained that it was a parasite that had made the white line as it burrowed just under the skin. The red around the line was from the infection causes by the parasite as it ate its way along. The cure was to spray the area with an ether bomb to freeze the skin deep enough to kill the parasite. The problem was that the parasite was always somewhere ahead of the white line so the freezing needed to be wider than one might expect. Even though a wide area of the sole of his small foot was white from freezing, yet we found out later it did not kill the troublesome parasite. You can imagine that the freezing was painful and that this three-year-old boy let us know how he felt.
Here Vernon is a lot happier than when getting his foot treated.
Since the doctor’s freezing application did not work we tried the freezing again at home—or was it more than once? What a task that was after our boy’s first painful experience in the doctor’s office! To get this scared boy to hold still so the ether could be applied was difficult for all of us. Remember this, Vernon started out as a husky 10 pounds and soon grew to be thought of as the same age as Monica. As I look back on that experience I wonder if it was harder on Doris and me than it was on Vernon. However his howls then would have shown he did not agree with that assessment.
There are times in life when such “cruel love” is necessary. Truth and the action that follows may be painful no matter when it occurs along life’s road. It is not just the three-year-olds that scream their pain but we as adult often cry out in our frustration. We as parents loved our boy but being fearful of what might happen without proper treatment, we forced suffering on him.
I wonder if the Eternal Father who watches over us feels anxious about our turning away from Him because of a particular pain. Yet often there is no option except His tough love, a love that we might declare to be cruel. But if we will bear it and trust our Eternal Father, the giver of all life, then we shall one day arrive before Him to hear answers to our questions. The line from an old Gospel song says it well, “God is still on the throne and He will remember his own.” Isn’t it great that he does not every forget us!