I was thinking yesterday about the occurrence of crappy things in our lives. Like, how sometimes it feels so random and arbitrary when they come along. Everything is going along pretty swimmingly, your heart and relationships and walk with God feel like it’s in a good place, and then BAM! Something awful happens. And it throws you for a loop not just because it was unexpected, but also because it just felt like you were back on track with life, and things were moving in the right direction.
And now you’re derailed again.
When I was a teen and this happened, I would get so bent out of shape. And I would actually use it to reinforce the worldview I held about life being irretrievably broken and painfully miserable, and how I shouldn’t get my hopes too high because the bottom would fall out if I just waited long enough.
But even though this helped me to come to terms with the question of “why bad things happen to good people” this was a very unhealthy mentality. It caused me to be down on God, down on myself, and down on pretty much everything. Life isn’t always sunshine and unicorns, but it’s also not always daggers and banana peels. I really needed to find a better perspective.
Everything is going along pretty swimmingly, your heart and relationships and walk with God feel like it’s in a good place, and then BAM! Something awful happens.
About a decade ago, God showed me something really cool, which has helped me to be much more thankful – on a daily basis – about the things in my life. It made so much sense to me, and I honestly think about it every day because, to be honest, I never have a day where absolutely every little thing goes perfectly. And so it allows me to more readily shrug off the crappy things that happen, and reminds me that on the whole, in the big picture, life is actually good.
And so is God.
And I need to give both a lot more credit.
You may recall the story of Job, and how things were pretty dang awesome in his life before all of a sudden everything fell apart. And I mean everything. He lost his family, his property, and his health all in one day. Just POOF, disaster struck and it was all gone. Right after he contracted a very painful skin disease, and in the wake of all of these devastating losses, Job’s well-meaning wife wanted to just give up. She didn’t really know how else to reconcile all that had happened, and she didn’t feel like there was anything left to live for, or even hope for. Job was still trying to hold it together and believe that things could and would get better one day even in the midst of such calamity and heartbreak, but his wife was just done, and said to him, ““Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!”
I’ve cried out to Him, I’ve given Him the silent treatment, I’ve yelled at Him, and I’ve asked him so many “WHY???!!!” questions in fits of rage and sadness and hopelessness.
I have wanted to do that some days. I know that sounds melodramatic, but some days have been really, really bad, and there honestly didn’t just feel like there was any reason to keep believing, and to keep holding onto God. I’ve cried out to Him, I’ve given Him the silent treatment, I’ve yelled at Him, and I’ve asked him so many “WHY???!!!” questions in fits of rage and sadness and hopelessness. Perhaps you can relate.
But Job’s response to His wife has been burned indelibly in my mind, and when crappy things happen it helps me to have a balanced, mature perspective about them. He said, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”
Whoa. The question cuts deep and reveals the childishness and truculence of our heart: Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?
I don’t want trouble.
I want pretty much everything to go my way.
I mean, I’m always doing all of these difficult things, and sucking it up, and gutting it out, and life is just so hard and I’m doing my best and that should matter.
Shouldn’t that matter?!
But I know that’s such an immature view. Even though we might not be stomping our feet and crying and whining and overtly throwing a tantrum, we are still prone to act like a petulant child in our relationship with God. But He is in charge, not us. And He knows what He is doing when He allows bad things in our life, just as He knows what He is doing when He allows good things in our life. It’s not random. It’s not arbitrary.
He knows what He is doing when He allows bad things in our life, just as He knows what He is doing when He allows good things in our life. It’s not random.
We know that everything that happens to us passes through God’s fingers, and we also know that His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. It’s perfectly arrogant for me to say that I know what is best for me.
I really just do not.
Heck, the track record of some of my choices clearly illustrates that. I’ve given my life over to Him, and I just need to fully trust what He allows and disallows in my life, knowing that ultimately it’s for my good.
Not only is it immature, but it is unreasonable to pitch a fit when bad things happen because we must remember that our lives here aren’t supposed to be perfect. We live in a messed up world, and we are all messed up people, and like Job said, we are foolish if we can’t understand that life will beat us up sometimes. We’re going to win some, and we’re going to lose some.
We live in a messed up world, and we are all messed up people, and we are foolish if we can’t understand that life will beat us up sometimes.
That has to be okay, because that is normal, and that is everyone’s story. No one is perfectly protected from hardship, and no one has a pain-free life.
Shall I accept good and not trouble? No, I shall accept both. Gladly. Because He knows what He’s doing, always and forever. Because He loves me and has the best for me. Because it’s not random or arbitrary, despite how it seems.
There is a reason, and even if I never understand it, it is for my good.