My son, a tornado, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Last night I had another moment with my son I thought I’d share with you.

It was late. Josh was having a hard time sleeping. Nightmares from the dinosaur movie he’d watched earlier in the day woke him up, I think. Mom and his sisters were already out for the night; while sitting at the table I heard his little footsteps coming down the stairs.

“Dad, I still can’t sleep,” he said, almost crying. So I brought him to the table and we began looking at pictures online (the kids always enjoy that, for some reason).

At some point we came to a picture someone had posted from the recent storms that went through our area. The picture showed a man standing with a building in the background, completely destroyed by a tornado. Josh noted that the building was broken down and asked me what happened; I explained about the powerful wind of a tornado and the damage it can cause.

Very simply he remarked, “But our house didn’t get broken down by a tornado.”

I replied, “No, and we’re grateful for that. But many people’s homes did get broken down. So let’s be sure to think of them and pray for them.”

His answer surprised me. You see, my wife and I don’t drill our kids with Bible lessons and generally we only speak of God and Jesus in casual, or should I say normal ways, just as they/he come(s) up in normal, everyday conversation. Beyond that, they have gone to some kids classes and been present at a number of meetings where adults were singing and sharing about the Lord (albeit in a very informal fashion), but my point is we haven’t gone to great lengths to “teach” them in any kind of way other than living before them what we hope are lives of love and grace.

So when Josh responded to my comment the way he did of his own initiative, I was genuinely surprised. More than that, I was delighted. Even more than that, it brought tears to my eyes. After I told him about people’s homes being destroyed he said, “But God…” He paused, then continued, “and other people can come and help them build their houses back again.”

It may not sound like much, but something about the heart and the way in which he said those words just made me cry. I was touched in a way I haven’t been touched in a while. Then today, quite curiously, I was reading a book which contained this quote by Fyodor Dostoyevsky:

The soul is healed by being with children.

I couldn’t agree more. Those of you who have children probably know what I’m talking about. Most days it’s a tough row to hoe being a parent, and you’d better believe my wife and I have our fair share of frustrations and failures in dealing with three small kids, but they are truly precious. In moments like this when I glimpse something eternal in my children, something which burns right through the fog of doubt and uncertainty I am tempted to have over the meaninglessness of life-especially when I hear stories of other families who, for instance, were all taken away in a moment when a tornado ripped mercilessly through their neighborhood-I’m reminded of a greater and more enduring reality than that which my five senses alone will allow. Such a reminder brings me comfort, gives me hope, and sets my life back on course.

The “how” of it all may often remain a mystery to me, but I choose to believe, indeed I must believe, that in the end, all things will have worked together… for good.

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About Joshua

Writer, husband, father, friend. View all posts by Joshua

6 responses to “My son, a tornado, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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