My family is visiting the U.S. right now. We have a six-week furlough before returning to Thailand, and we are most of the way through it.
Today, we had to say goodbye to some old friends. It was painful. As one of the families packed in their car to go, my youngest called out, “See you again in three years thanks to my dad’s stupid job!” I was about to scold him but then noticed the tears in his eyes. No one got his permission before moving everyone to Thailand and changing his entire life. It seemed very unfair to him.
Hoping to cheer everyone up, we went out to lunch at Red Robin, a family favorite. But as soon as we got out of the car, my daughter started to cry, and it took almost ten minutes to console her. When the tears stopped, we made our way into the restaurant and had a seat.
A waitress came by and asked us how we were doing. Looking around at tear-stained faces, I decided on honesty, “We’re a little sad today. We live overseas, and we’ve come for a visit but had to say goodbye to some good friends.”
She didn’t seem to know what the appropriate response might be, so she took our orders and tended to us every so often. During the middle of lunch, my youngest began crying again, and we couldn’t seem to raise his spirits with any talk about his friends in Thailand or the greater purpose that is being served by us being there. He was low, and there was no picking him up.
But as soon as we finished eating, our waitress appeared again with a giant mountain of an ice-cream and brownie dessert. She said that she and the wait staff had all chipped in to buy it for us to help us feel better, because she had spent years living in Aruba when she was a kid and knew how tough it could be. My wife, not normally given to crying, had to fight back tears at the simple gesture.
You wouldn’t believe the change that dessert worked on my youngest son! Instantly, he was excited and cheerful again. Food is his love language. Dessert is probably his most fluent dialect. He was thrilled! In fact, we all were. We finished out lunch with smiles and laughter and left the restaurant in great spirits.
As my oldest son and I talked in the parking lot about what had just happened, he remarked that God sure knew how to cheer up my youngest son. It was the perfect antidote to his gloomy mood. While we talked, the two of us were staring at the storm clouds above us. They were dark and foreboding, but behind them, you could see evidence of the sun. It was producing a silver lining around some of the darkest ones. And it got me to thinking…
Sometimes all we see are the dark and gloomy clouds. We look at our problems and the circumstances of our lives and see only the storms. But what we often fail to remember is that just behind the clouds of our current situation is the Son of God, who loves us and wants the best for us. He’s always there; He never moves. We are the ones who are spinning round and round, so even though we may not be able to see Him, we can trust that He won’t leave us on our own.
The clouds will come and go, but the Son will never change. And just when we are in our darkest moments, the clouds will part, and the warmth of His light will shine through in the form of a chocolate icecream and brownie mountain.