'I don't know if I can take much more! Why do these kinds of things always happen to me?' 'What did I do wrong?' Besides the fact that these questions are all self-centered ( and therefore 'selfish' ), we have all most likely asked ourselves questions like these, at least once in our life! We are often so focused on our own pain & our own gain that we often forget, that though there is always a reason for everything, that reason is not always 'me'! Sometimes it seems that there is no rhyme or reason for whatever happens, but sometimes the reason is abundantly clear; sometimes we can chalk it up to sheer stupidity! We often forget that, in the grand scheme of things, we are not much more than a blip on the cosmic radar screen! ( Not that we are not much more to our Heavenly Father, but we'll get to that! )
When things go awry in our lives, it often is our own stupid fault! Most often, the choices that we make in our lives, especially the bad ones, come back to bite us in the ass! Sometimes, though, even though we make all the right choices, 'bad' things happen! It may be no one's fault; seemingly 'out of the blue', something occurs that is unexpected, and most definitely NOT to our liking! When such things occur, our natural tendency & temptation is to say, 'I must have done something wrong', or, when it happens to someone else, 'THEY must have done something wrong'! Very often though, we can see sooner or later, that it happened, not ( necessarily ) because someone did something wrong, but so that someone would do right!
There are a lot of good people out there who, while not ( necessarily ) doing good things all the time ( at least, not so you'd notice ), are just storing up their goodness for just such an occurrence! When something 'bad' happens, particularly to one of their own, these good people just seem to come out of the woodwork; it's almost like they were just waiting for a chance to exercise their goodness!
The Problem of Evil is one that has plagued the Church since its inception! This conundrum still bothers many in the Church today; 'if we serve a Good God, who is Almighty & Loving, then why does He allow evil to exist?' 'Again, 'why do bad things happen to good people?'
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, 'evil does not exist; it happens'. Whether it's as simple & selfish as something WE do not like, or whether some wicked person with evil intent practices his abominations on us or someone we love, this is an occurrence, not a tangible thing that must be blotted out of existence! One who does what is evil has made a choice. There is always the choice between right & wrong, and too often, people choose the wrong! When people make the wrong choice, which people often do, then is when it becomes evil! In biblical terms, 'evil' is something we do not like, for example, something may be an evil to one person, even though it is not necessarily wrong! On the other Hand, when God, the Maker & Definer of all things, does not like something, it truly is evil, in our modern sense! Not only is it wrong, but it is an abomination to Him, and so it is as He has said, an evil!
When 'evil' occurs, then, we might consider the bigger picture, and remember that it's not all about us, and that this may have happened ( to us ) just so that those aforementioned good people would have a chance to prove their goodness, to show their love! In our reflection, we also have the chance to look back at our own lives and remember all the choices that we made, some good, some bad. When we take time to pause & reflect, we cannot help but see how Gracious & Merciful our Heavenly Father is! We've all made certain choices in our lives, some worse than others, and some definitely good, but through them all, we see His Almighty Hand, guiding us carefully in spite of those choices, saving us from our own stupidity and using our good choices to bless others!
We often complain, and with good reason, you might say, when these things occur to us; no one likes when bad things happen! It's only natural, when evil things happen in our lives or the lives of those we care about, to begin playing 'the blame game'. Somebody has to pay, and pay dearly in most cases! If we can't find someone else to blame, then we usually turn inwardly, and ask questions like, 'what am I doing wrong', and think, 'I MUST be doing something wrong'!
We might ask, 'how is God glorified through our suffering?' One might be tempted to believe that if God glories in our suffering, as in the suffering of His Son, that He is a mean & vindictive God! However, God does not glory IN our suffering, but rather, is glorified through it! How, you may ask? He is glorified when good people do good! When 'bad' things happen to good people, then other good people, as they themselves are able, stand up & step in, showing the Goodness & Loving Mercy of our Heavenly Father!
'The Apple of His Eye'
Jesus told His disciples ( Matthew 10:31 ), 'do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows'. God's children, His Creation are all more precious to Him then we could ever imagine! As human fathers & mothers, we hold our children very near & dear to us, and we are but finite; He is infinite; His love for His children ( even when they make bad choices ) is beyond the scope of our understanding! We can only imagine how much He loves His own, when our love is so very often fleeting, at best!
As fathers, we often allow our children to suffer the experience of touching a hot stove, not because we enjoy hearing them scream in pain, but because we know that this pain is often the best teacher! So, our Heavenly Father will often allow bad things to happen to good people for the same reason. This is not always the case, as we saw earlier; sometimes these things happen, evil occurs, to show the Glory of God, which is the Love of His People, through them!
One of the most comforting passages in the Greek Scriptures is found in the apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans ( 8:28 ); 'we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His ] purpose'. We can take great comfort in knowing that whatever happens to us, if we love God, and are One of His Called Out Ones, He works all these things for our good!
He is gloried through these occurrences, be they good or evil, though like any good father, He enjoys the good & hates the evil! He does not like to witness these evil occurrences, I'm sure, but neither do they catch Him by surprise, as is often the case with our earthly fathers! As His children, we are infinitely nearer & dearer to Him than we could ever ( understandably ) be to any mere human father! We are His Creation, not merely biology ( flesh & blood )!
Since we are the apple of His eye, we count our sufferings all joy ( though we do not always enjoy them ), knowing that our sufferings reveal His Glory, not only by how we react to them, but by how others act because of them!
Charles Haddon Shank