Certain realities in life can only be seen through eyes cleansed by tears.
Why do bad things happen? A national survey asked people what they would ask God, if they could ask him only one question. The number one question posed was, “Why is there suffering in the world?”
The only accurate answer to that question is, “I don’t know.” We may speculate. We may have our theories, but there will always be events in this life that are beyond comprehension.
For what it’s worth, I’ll briefly share my personal thoughts on the question, noting that others have voiced similar opinions. First, I don’t believe that God causes bad events. I believe God suffers along with us when we suffer, because He loves us. I also believe that God can, and does, use bad events for good. I believe we experience pain and suffering in this life, because we live in a sinful and broken world. Much suffering is directly caused by sinful behavior, our own or someone else’s. Other times, bad things happen where no sin was involved, such as physical illness or natural disasters. In these cases, it makes sense to me that such events occur simply because we live in a broken world.
So, we’re left with the reality that bad things do happen. Since we can’t change this reality, we need to look at how we can best respond to it. There are several truths that can help us with our response.
- Bad things happen to everyone. We are not alone or unique in our suffering. We may perceive that life is easy for some, but we would be wrong. Others may hide their dark days or seem to handle them well, but they still occur. Understanding that life is difficult for everyone helps us accept our difficulties with more grace.
- We don’t have to feel alone. When bad things happen, we need to lean on others. We need other’s support. If you are a believer, you know that you need to lean on God during these times. I know that my spiritual growth accelerates during my difficult times. During such times, I am reminded that I need to depend on something greater than myself.
- Others don’t have to feel alone. We naturally reach out during the bad times. We want to help, to support, and to encourage. We are blessed when we reach out to bless others. Bad times spur us to do this.
- We see life more clearly. Bad events help us see what is really important. Issues that once seemed so important, fade into the background. Our bad times work like a miner’s sifting pan, allowing the unimportant and trivial to fall back into the river, while highlighting the true gold in life.
- We reorganize our priorities. I have worked with many people who have altered their life’s direction following a negative life event. Some have come to a place of gratitude for the bad event, as a needed turning point.
So, we are left with the reality that bad things happen to everyone. We can’t avoid them. We may not be able to understand them. But, we can work on how we respond to them, and that can make all the difference.