Does God cause natural disasters or are they just part of nature?
How do we use the word blessing in the midst of such events? What are the implications of claiming blessing when my house was not destroyed, life was not ended, etc?
Does God really choose to be in control? Is it enough for God to be present?
Do bad things happen to bring about good outcomes or do good outcomes occur even in the face of bad things?
Is what we view as bad really bad or is it good in some bigger picture way?
In the midst of one of these conversations, I shared this story...
One recent afternoon, I picked up my kindergartener as I do nearly every afternoon. He got in the car and we began talking about his day. What did he learn? Who did he play with during recess? Was the lunch I packed okay?
It seemed he had left his lunch box at school instead of bringing it home.
Although this child of mine takes many things in stride, it is not unusual for the seemingly smallest thing to set him off and cause a major crisis. On that day, it was the lunch box left behind.
My first thought was to keep driving, tell him that it would be there tomorrow, remind him that he needed to be more responsible.
But before doing any of that, I thought better.
No, the lack of lunch box was not a crisis to me. Yes, it really would be fine if we got it the next day. (He does after all mark the lunch calendar ahead of time to indicate whether he is taking his lunch or eating school lunch and the next day was a school lunch day.)
But to him it mattered.
So, I pulled over and asked him to take a deep breath. How could we handle this, I asked. After a few deep breaths and some conversation, we came to the conclusion that we could go park, walk into the school and retrieve the lunch box.
As we walked back to the car, lunch box in his hand, other hand wiping the last evidence of his tears from his face, it seemed worth the extra trouble.
No, the lack of lunch box was not a crisis to me. In the big picture of his life, the forgotten lunch box will not really matter. But, how I respond does matter. Considering his feelings, whether they make sense to me or not, does matter. Validating his experience as real does matter.
Does God have some bigger view that allows for an understanding that many of our crises are really just minor bumps in the road? That may very well be. I simply do not know. But what I do believe is that even if this is true, God stands with us in the midst of our joy and our pain, mourning or celebrating along side us, validating our experience and reminding us that we matter.