Every so often, the whole sky comes crashing down. That was the case recently for a dear friend of mine who unexpectedly found out that his 2-year-old daughter, Hope, had cancer. Life has a peculiar way of marching forward after a shattering moment like that. The sun still rises, breakfast still has to be served, and diapers still need to be changed.
Somewhere in the middle of chemotherapy and hospital stays and IV tubes, my friend and his daughter had a conversation familiar to everyone who has raised a young child. It had been a long day, and my friend held Hope in his arms as he read her a bedtime story. In his silliest voice, he asked, “What does the owl say?”
Hope replied, “Whoo, whoo!” She giggled sweetly, and he couldn’t help but notice how much hair she had lost in the past few days. Patchy and brittle, her remaining strawberry blonde wisps were a painful reminder of the reality of their situation.
My friend turned the page and asked, “What does the cow say?”
“Moo, moo!” Hope responded proudly and grinned from ear to ear. The little wisps of hair that had fallen in her lap as they were reading didn’t seem to bother her at all.
My friend looked up to read the next line, and suddenly the conversation took an unexpected turn. At that moment, a picture of Jesus on Hope’s bedroom wall caught his attention, and he asked an unplanned question.
“Hopie,” he stammered, trying not to give away his emotion, “What does Jesus say?” It was a question he had never asked her before.
As he waited with anticipation, Hope snuggled into his shoulder, opened wide her big blue eyes, and whispered, “Hold you. Jesus say, ‘Hold you.’” My friend burst into tears. He gently pulled his daughter’s little body into his and hugged her as he sobbed deep, heavy sobs. A few minutes later, he held her up to the light switch so she could turn off her bedroom lamp. After Hope said good night to the trees in the front yard and a blue glass star that hung in her window, he set her gently into her crib with her blanket that had been soaked through with his tears. As he walked quietly out of her room, he reflected on the lesson he had just been taught and the gentle reminder he had been given that Jesus was holding their family in His loving arms.
On that unforgettable night, a picture of Jesus that had been hung on the wall of Hope’s room prepared the way for a profound lesson to be taught. In a place where everyday routine collided with heaven’s truth, sweet peace filled up heavy hearts. Christ became the center of the conversation, and in that still moment, an added measure of strength was found, hearts were lifted, and courage was renewed. So it is every time we turn to Jesus Christ.
In my mind, I keep going back to that evening. At some point beforehand, my friend had chosen to hang that picture in his daughter’s room. My guess is that it was months before, in a time of joy. I assume that he had no idea of the strength the picture would bring in a future moment of need.
This experience reaffirmed a truth that I believe with my whole heart: there is a great power that comes when Jesus Christ becomes the central focus of our home. If our conversations center on Christ, if pictures of Him hang on our walls, if His words have a place in our hearts, and if His attributes become characteristics of each member of our family, we will experience an added measure of peace, strength, courage, and hope in the moments when we need it most.
To learn more about how you can keep Jesus Christ as the central focus of your home, check out The Christ-Centered Home by Emily Belle Freeman, available now at Deseret Book or deseretbook.com. Emily is also a presenter at TOFW: Time Out for Women events.