My daughter, like most 2-year-olds I’m sure, is very particular about which stuffed toy she has, and which blanket we bring along or have in bed at night. Trying to get her dolls through the washer is a disaster! She will inevitably request that particular doll at bedtime and freak out when I tell her she can’t have it!
Last weekend we lost her little white stuffed lamb. It was at home Friday after school. We went to dinner that night, and somewhere between the car ride there and arriving back home, Lea’s little lamb was lost. I scoured the parking lot where we were, I called the restaurant, I drove the route trying to focus my eyes past the large quantities of trash on the side of the road to see a little lamb.
But alas, the lamb is gone!
I don’t think Lea has figured it out yet – but she has certainly asked for her lamb. So far I’ve been able to ignore her question or change the topic, and she’s been able to forget that she wanted her lamb. But she’s asking more often. She’s bound to figure it out. And I am dreading the look on her face when she realizes that I can’t bring her lamb back!
The lost lamb has really bothered me for some reason. I think I’ve figured out why. This is the first experience with my young daughter where she will encounter pain, and there is nothing I can do to fix the problem. Life doesn’t go as planned; sometimes bad things happen; I can’t protect my children from the realities of life!
Okay, okay – it is a big jump to go from a lost toy to dealing with the idea that sometimes life just sucks. There are many parents out there – some that I know and love – that have to explain to their children that the life situation they have been dealt is bad and there is nothing to change it – the death of a parent, a failed marriage, loss of family income, losing a home to fire.
When we are a parent with a new baby, we hold this tiny being in our arms and wish for them nothing but joy, peace and happiness. In those swaddled moments we can protect them from this scary world. But then they get older. And the older they get, the more difficult it is to protect them! Whether it be losing a stuffed animal, being bullied in middle school, going through a rough break-up in high school, or losing a job as a young adult – we lose the ability to “control” what happens to our children. Yet we remain a loving support through it all. I think for a child, hugs, support and simply knowing they are loved can ease the pain from life’s mishaps.
So then I step back and think: how do I compare this to myself as a child of God? Like a child, we are inevitably faced with the painful realities of life. Like a parent, God is an ever-present support and constant source of peace and love – a support so deep it exceeds our human capacity to understand it.
And like the parent-child relationship, if we go through our most challenging times trusting that God is there as a constant source of love, it is so much easier to get through anything life throws at us. Like a child, we are not protected from pain. The crappy situation might not change, but God knows how to use it for His own purpose – if we are open to seeing God at work in our lives. God is there with outstretched arms, waiting to offer the grace, peace, forgiveness, love and hope which only God can provide.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39