Monday, June 13, 2011


I can't stop thinking about a little girl I met at church yesterday morning.

About 9 years old, she was well spoken, respectful, and a bundle of positive energy. She was mildly bashful when first introduced to me, but when I was trying to leave 10 minutes later, I was not allowed to walk past her without engaging in conversation.

Not just any conversation, though. She was referred to me by (Pastor!) Jeff, who I imagine was as surprised as I was when she asked him, in the midst of all the flooding and chaos going on in the McCook Lake/Dakota Dunes area:
"Why does God let bad things like the flood happen? Is God angry?"

What a profound question, my darling. If only we knew what went through God's "mind."

Perhaps the reason I find myself still thinking about this conversation a day later has to do with the intense and thought-provoking conversation that followed. I found myself challenged by the honesty and genuine questions of a (9year old?) little girl. She wondered aloud, "will we be wiped out like all the people except Noah?" as she also made astute observations like, "when I am sad it is like it should be crying outside. and when I am unhappy a storm... when I am angry a Tornado (etc)." Is that how God works, too?

I began with the most well-known story of a flood: she was well acquainted with Noah and reminded me (in her words) that there, too was a story of God seeking vengeance on God's creation for all their wrong-doings. I asked her if she knew what happened at the end of the story and was promptly told, "the ark was left on dry land, but even they were stranded on top of a mountain!"

Searching for the message of hope offered to us, I asked, "Do you remember the rainbow at the end of the story? Do you know what that means?"

"That God was angry and we should be careful."

I wasn't sure what was worse: that we teach our children the difficult pieces of stories to instill fear in them, or that it seemed there was no sign of hope in a story that really ends with an ultimate reward offered to us: a covenant with God. How great that we have a God who offers us hope and love and makes promises to us that are not dependent on anything we do?! God covenants with us purely because God cares!

We talked about the rainbow and its promise and she was entirely unfamiliar and so she continued, asking equally thought-provoking questions. Eventually, I found I could leave her with only this:

God loves us and when we are sad, God is also sad. It is not always that God wants bad things to happen, but sometimes they do. It is then that we should remember how much God loves us, how God even sent Jesus to show us that, and because of Jesus, we know that God really does understand how we feel. So when we are sad, God is sad too. When we are hurting, God is hurting. When our homes flood, God is cries with us through our struggle and is sorry that we have suffered and lost so much. God does not want bad things to happen, but God does want to help us find hope and to offer us strength as we find ways to pick up our lives and begin anew.

That, my friends, is why we have the rainbow. and today… my rainbow and reminder of hope came in the form of a little girl...

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