We were in a hurry. I zipped up her raincoat, and held her hand as we walked out the door. I was fumbling with the keys, readjusting the overflowing diaper bag, and trying to keep up with my now speed walking toddler. I can see her barreling down the corridor toward the driveway, I swear I could see her smile from the back of her.
It was a deluge of rain, gutters filled to the brim not able to contain the amount of water falling from the sky. I suddenly had flashbacks of summer afternoons when I played in the rain in the driveway. Barefoot and smiling, I think I wore the navy swimsuit with white polka dots, and my Mom’s navy umbrella. The umbrella was more of a baton that orchestrated the dancing of my feet, rather than a means of protection from the rain. But I’ve grown up and lost my child like sense of awe, I now see the rain as a necessary annoyance.
She is now toddling as fast as her waddling legs can handle into the waterfall created by the gutters. My first reaction is to act fast and remove her before she’s absolutely soaked. But, I somehow didn’t. I just stood there for a few seconds longer, and I saw so much. The screeches of joy from her little lungs, the smile extending from ear to ear, and the sound of her shoes hitting the puddles. She has no fear of being wet and cold, and knows that she is completely safe. This is the first time my child has noticed rain. She is discovering something so normal, so essential, and embracing it head on with absolute wonder. My heart swells at the sight of her, and I can almost feel it trying to burst through my chest.
As quickly as my heart grew,… it sank. It dawns on me, the rainstorm we are playing in is the same storm that has caused utter destruction and devastation to hundreds of thousands of people a mere 10 hours south of us. I immediately feel guilty. How insensitive to take pictures of my child dancing in the same storm that has caused so much pain, damage, and death. I spent the rest of the afternoon conveniently avoiding my ambivalence.
We watched the news after dinner, and saw even more heartbreaking scenes of premature babies leaving their mothers and being air lifted to a hospital too far away for any mother. As I rocked her to sleep tonight, thanking the Lord again for my beautiful child who is safe in my arms and warm home, the Lord began to connect fragments of my afternoon in the rain with His character, and His Word.
As I sat in the pitch black room, the thoughts were a whirlwind.
Even through suffering, destruction, and death, am I not still good?
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
Up until now, I believed the good that followed suffering should be a magnificent, monumental good, always overshadowing the suffering. Bigger. Better. Stronger. Significant. Putting the suffering back in it’s place, leaving it chained to the wall and not allowing it to foster anymore pain.
But what if it’s a furious hurricane that slowly became a gentle rain. A gentle rain that graciously gives a child the opportunity to discover her Father’s Creation? The opportunity for a Mother to remember what it was like to run as fast as you can into a storm with joy, all the while trusting, believing, and knowing you are safe. Sometimes the good that follows suffering is the tiniest silver lining on the darkest stormy cloud. It takes the Lord’s eyes to see it. The Lord’s kindness to me doesn’t stop the pain and suffering of the hurricane. But He is still good. The Lord doesn’t promise if we suffer, He says when we suffer.
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1 Peter 5:10
Suffering does not last forever, it will end. Whether here on earth, or on the other side of heaven, He is still good. I’m reminded of the 23rd Psalm that reassures me that the shadow over my life is that of His goodness. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” I can’t help but think of Peter Pan and his shadow. What if we, like the fictitious Peter, thought of God’s goodness as a shadow that we could sew onto our feet. That even though there are times we cannot see our shadow, His goodness is still there, following us closely.
One day Ruby and I will be at home, and it will start to rain. Thunder clouds will fill our quiet home with a loud crash, and she will no doubt be afraid. As we look out the blurry dripping pane of glass, lightning flashing… I can share that small, gentle, powerful, beautiful story with her. I can show her actual photographic proof that once she was not afraid. I can share His everlasting goodness with her. That even though storms come our way, He is still good, and His goodness lasts forever.