A person’s days are determined;
you have decreed the number of his months
and have set limits he cannot exceed. (Job 14:5)
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)
Bad things happen to good people. Why are we so surprised? As Christians we look to scripture for guidance and answers. And yet in this holy book we find bad things happening to good people. It’s not something new so why are we so surprised when it happens to both non-Christians and Christians alike. Many believers take such events in stride when applied to non-Christians but become worried and shout out in anger to God wondering why a “good” Christian is the recipient of sad or tragic events. I don’t understand the disparity.
I understand that God loves and protects his own and, in some instances, provides miraculous protection. However, His grace and love are doled out for believer and non-believer alike. We understand the activity of God’s grace in our lives as His children. It is one of those things it’s hard to explain to a non-Christian. But, God’s grace exists throughout the world on all people. It’s just that some don’t recognize it in their day to day lives.
Our very existence is based on God’s grace and redemptive spirit after our fall from grace in the garden. There is a disparity between non-believers and believers. Redemption came through God’s law and later eternal salvation was offered and made universally available to all who believe and accept God’s sacrifice in Jesus Christ. So, when it comes to God’s eternal kingdom the distinction is made according to belief and acceptance of God’ love and grace.
But I’m not writing about eternity and salvation. I’m looking at the trials, diseases, and disasters which impact all humans, globally, without the distinctions of God’s laws. I will not discuss the few to whom I believe God applied special grace and protection in a particular time of need, those are exceptions. But we aren’t, (at least I’m not), normally exceptions to the diseases, natural and manmade disasters in this fallen world.
I have cancer. It is life ending. No cures, only possible delays available with the current status of medical knowledge. I pray for a cure but am satisfied and at peace with God as I pass through these pending days. A cure might be found. A cure might not be found. Either way I’ve trusted God knowing He has been in control in my life not only up until now but into the unknown future. I’m not worried nor concerned about what good (in man’s eyes) or bad (in man’s eyes) is coming down the road. This is the way things are and because I believe God is the only God and he has all things under control I press forward resting in his loving, graceful, caring hands.
Some wonder, even in their faith, why something like this would happen to me. I’m a missionary. I’m a pastor. I’ve served the Lord around the world for 35 plus years. I’ve led music, sung praise and honor to God, preached His word and proclaimed the Gospel around the world. I hope I’ve been faithful to my walk with God. I’ve made more than my share of mistakes in the world.
What would make me so special to be singled out as an exception in God’s world to insulate me from the disease and trials others in this fallen world would experience. I can think of nothing. I do believe there were times in our ministry when God provided extra protection but those were one off instances. I’m not special. I’m a child of God and take comfort in the eternal life I’ve been promised. With all the wonders I’ve experience in this world I look forward to the more spectacular adventures in God’s eternal kingdom. I think it’ll be a blast!
There are many more auspicious people in this world who’ve accomplished more to relieve the suffering in this fallen state of the world. Many have worked tirelessly to find cures for so many diseases. Many have worked hard to build a better world. Many have worked hard to end hunger, thirst and other maladies impacting so much of the global population.
So why do such things happen to good, young, faithful, whatever people? I don’t know. Only God knows (If you believe in Him). For those who follow another mystical god or set of rules you don’t know either. We all guess this side of our death bed. So, let’s stop guessing and get real and practical.
How do we personally react when we receive the news we tell others is just part of life? How do we react when the doctor says we’re dying? How do we react when that loved one mysteriously and unexpectedly dies? Nobody expects their loved one to suddenly die. We think we’ll all live into old age. But that just isn’t the way things work.
Instead of questioning why this or that impacted someone we know or love, why don’t we instead work on how to deal with the disease, injury, loss. Trying to understand the whys and wherefores is a useless proposition which only leads to personal depression and loss.
Yes, there may be tears or frustration and definitely sadness. It is a loss when someone dies unexpectedly or receives a end of life diagnosis. And each of those have their place. What doesn’t have any place is the bitter moaning about why? Grieve over the loss but don’t waste time on the why. We can ask our creator being, for me God, but I don’t think he’ll let us in on his plans. We become so self-absorbed in trying to understand the unfathomable mindset of our god, or set of life rules, we lose sight of what is before use.
Someone is in pain trying to survive. It might be personal pain such as cancer, or emotional pain from their loss of a loved one killed in an accident. Let’s concentrate on the living, not the dead. We’re not going to change the dead, but we can comfort, encourage, rejoice with the living, the survivors. If someone is going through an end of life experience we can comfort, lend a helping hand, encourage, and rejoice with them even in their trial.
Don’t waste time on the why, it doesn’t help. Instead understand our days are numbered, we can’t change that either. We can recognize we are part of this fallen world and “why me” isn’t the right question but “why not me” is a helpful question to allow us to see our part in this global population suffering similar things in different places around the world.
A friend shared a story about his wife who was dying. I hope he doesn’t mind my sharing. They were going in for treatment and entered an elevator filled with others arriving for treatment. His wife looked at the sad hanging faces and promptly pressed the stop button on the elevator. She said (not a literal quote), “OK folks, I want you to know this is a party elevator we need to sing and dance and rejoice.” In her frail state she started singing and dancing in her wheelchair. The people looked at her for a few moments then slowly started joining in the celebration. That, to me, is a great way to present your broken body to those around you. There is still joy in this world.
My wife recently read and adopted a new favorite verse as we go through treatment and the days numbered ahead of us. Romans 15:13 reads, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I trust in him and think this is a great verse and a superlative attitude to maintain whether you’re the one dying (me), or the future bereaved family member (my wife). There is JOY. Joy in the life we lived. Joy in the life we are sharing through this adventure. Joy in my family, children, grandchildren, brothers, ministry, the people we’ve met around the world, the caring hands of our church members and in too many things go mention.
Let us rejoice God has allowed us into this adventure and look forward to how he will work in others’ lives because of our attitude and our JOY. It won’t be easy but, no one ever said life would be easy.