We went to our church’s evening service last night. I helped Namine draw from personal experience to understand the sermon’s lesson.
I am impressed with how well Namine sits in church. And not only that — she participates as much as she can. She’s getting better at following along with the hymns and psalms, although they do sometimes go a little fast for her. The pastor’s scripture readings, on the other hand, are always too fast for her. Still, we do what we can to help her follow along.
The sermon tonight was about the suffering of the Apostle Paul, and despite that, how he rejoiced in the work God had given him. The focus was how contradictory Paul’s reaction to his situations seemed.
Namine sat on my lap, just as she did last week, so I could explain things to her. She listened as the pastor read:
“Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you…”
Namine whispered up to me, “What does ‘rejoice’ mean?”
I whispered back, “It means to be happy. Joyful.”
“Oh. And what does ‘suffering’ mean?”
“It means to be in pain. It could be emotional, like when your feelings are hurt, or physical, like when you broke your leg.”
Namine was silent for a while, processing this. Then she whispered up to me again. “That doesn’t make sense.”
I thought of something. My daughter has been through more pain than I care to admit, and yet, still she keeps a cheerful attitude. If I could help her connect her own experiences to what Paul was saying in his letter to the Colossians, it could better help her understand the sermon (which, in my opinion, was a bit more adult than a six year old could be expected to internalize).
“Namine,” I whispered to her, “does therapy hurt you?”
“Yeah, sometimes. It hurts my legs sometimes when I walk in my walker.” She paused. “Especially when I walk on the treadmill.”
Of course. I know how she enjoys therapy — but it’s the benefit of strength and improvement she enjoys, not the hardship during.
I prompted her to the next thought. “So do you want to quit?”
Her answer was immediate, and a bit too loud. “No way!” (I put my finger to my lips, signalling that she should lower her voice.) “No way,” she whispered. “I love going to therapy because it helps me to be strong!”
“So,” I whispered, “you rejoice, you love going to therapy, even though sometimes you have to suffer through it — it’s hard, it hurts, but you keep on doing it.”
“Yes.” I could see understanding blooming in her eyes.
“Just the same way,” I said quietly, “Paul is saying in his letter that he rejoices in his suffering, to tell others about Jesus.” (If you want to get particular, the church in Colossi already knew about Jesus. Still, I felt I was okay in simplifying this aspect.)
Namine nodded. She didn’t listen to the whole of the rest of the sermon — she got antsy about twenty minutes in, and as I said, it was a bit advanced for a six year old. But I am very proud of her for paying attention as much as she did, and for doing her best to understand the message.