When Bad Things Happen . . .

We’re in Ohio as I write this. Since Friday, we have attended the TEAM LIFE Fall Leadership Convention at the Jerome Schottenstein Arena of Ohio State University.

The trip out was great.  We left with our friends in their van early Thursday morning (3:00 am) and drove almost straight through, except for rest stops.  There was some rain and damp when we left our upstate New York home, but by the time we hit the Ohio/Pennsylvania border, the temperature had risen almost 40 degrees and we had a gorgeous sunny day.

The Convention was amazing.  It would take me days to tell you about everything we heard, learned and experienced, so I won’t even bother to try.  I will just tell you it is something you need to experience for yourself.

So, you’re asking, why the title, “When Bad Things Happen . . .”??  It’s because of this morning.  We came out of our hotel to load our friends’ (and roommates) van to go to the Arena for the church service and closing session of the Convention, only to find the hotel’s manager and 2 cars full of the local police agency’s finest waiting to talk to our friends about their van. (!!!)

Last night, sometime after we returned to the hotel in the small hours of the morning from the Convention (about 2:00 am), a group of people broke into several cars at the far end of the hotel’s lot.  They smashed windows and took whatever valuables they could.  Our friends’ brand new GPS device was taken, glass was everywhere inside and outside the van and the people responsible had made a mess of it.  The only reason they hadn’t gotten to more cars and stolen more is because someone came out of the hotel when they were still here, hit the panic button on their car and alerted the thieves to the presence of a possible witness.  Taking what they’d already gotten, the thieves took off.

Our friends’ husband dealt with the manager.  As the driver, his wife dealt with the police.  My husband and I dropped what we were carrying.  He started taking photos of the damage for our friends’ insurance company.  I started a quick text chat with our TEAM LIFE leaders and let them know what happened, and asked them to pray for us.  Their response was immediate, telling me of course they would pray!  Once my husband was done, we started collecting the items the thieves had thrown around in the van and on the ground.  His wife and I dealt with the hotel and making sense of the mess brought in to us in our room.  The men stayed outside and dealt with the mess outside, and covering the window so we could eventually leave for the church service and Convention.

I continued my text conversation with our TEAM LIFE leaders until we finally got to the Arena.  And yes, we did arrive just in time for church!  Our leaders offered money, a GPS to borrow to get us home, love and support.  When we arrived and let them know where we are sitting, they came with the offered GPS and hugs.  They surrounded our friends, and us by our presence with them, with love, compassion and practical help and support.

Through all of it, our friends have been calm, relaxed and dealing with issues as they came up without hysteria or denial of the facts in front of them.  Several times they said, “God gave us this van. It’s His gift, His provision for us.  He will supply what we need for it.”  They could have been upset.  They could have gotten depressed or angry.  They could have cried.  They could have let it ruin their day.  They didn’t, and their example helped us to be supportive and positive, too.

And tomorrow we’ll drive home, after the window has been replaced, in the teeth of Hurricane Sandy.  The storm is between where we are and where we need to be tomorrow night, and we have to get through.  Our friends’ wife is the driver (no one else is allowed to drive her new specialty conversion van), and has decided we’re going, storm or not.

When bad things happen, we have choices.  We have choices in our attitudes.  We have choices in our responses.  We have choices in whether we will praise God or curse Him.  We have choices in whether we will allow stress to overcome us, or whether we will overcome it.

We all have examples around us of people who respond negatively when bad things happen.  Sadly, it is often rare when we get a good example of a positive response.  That’s why I wrote this.  I wanted to give you this example, so when bad things happen to you, as they do to all of us in one way or another, you will have this.  And know there is a better way to survive it.