In the midst of another tragedy, the age old question is recirculating: “Why does God let bad things happen?” If God is real and great and powerful, why does He just sit back and watch as our lives take what seem like meaningless, harsh twists and turns? Why did He let my grandmother get Alzheimer’s? Why did He let my friend get murdered? Why did He allow 9/11? Why did He let a psychopath go through with a mass shooting? Why does He allow a woman carry a baby and then let it be born without a heartbeat?
God never said life would be easy. He never said that nothing bad would happen. He never said that the world was anything, but sinful and selfish. Some people believe God never said anything at all, because he doesn’t exist. Just for kicks and giggles, let me tell you what I believe.
While it is perfectly natural for anyone to question why things are the way that they are, there is one thing I (a natural skeptic) am trying not to do. I try to put God in a bubble. I try to turn God into a human and look at it from a perspective that I can understand. God is so huge that not even his pinky fingernail could fit inside my li’l bubble. God is not human. He made humans in His image, but that doesn’t mean that any of us have any possible way of understanding things from His level.
Recently, I read The Reason For God by Timothy Keller who compared God to a father (which is how I see Him) and humans to his five year old children. I really liked this example, so I expanded on it. Imagine you’re five years old. You have friends you like to play with everyday. You have a favorite park and you love your room. You like to climb the magnolia tree in your front yard and you love to explore the trail your dad cut for you out back. One day, your parents come to you and say, “Honey. We are moving. We are going across the country because Daddy got a new job.” As a five year old, you cannot possibly comprehend that this is good news. Your father got an amazing new opportunity. Your parents will finally be able to buy a house. Your Christmases are about to get so much better because Mom and Dad have a bigger budget. The room you have now is a closet compared to the awesome planet-themed room your parents are going to create for you. At the moment though, as a five year old, your entire world is crushed. You don’t understand why Mom and Dad would do this to you. They are taking you away from all you know. Your friends and family, your trail, your magnolia tree, your room-all gone. You have to leave it all behind and it is seriously the worst possible thing that has ever happened to you. Life-as you know it-is over. Why would your parents do this to you if they loved you so much? You know they have the ability to keep you here. You know they are fully capable of not ruining your entire life. Why? Why? WHY?! Because you’re five years old and you cannot possibly understand why your parents make the decisions they do. You just aren’t at their level. One day, though, you will look back and go, “Hey! Everything turned out okay.”
Tonight, as Jack was climbing all over me like a rock wall, I grabbed him and swung him backwards. As he was falling, his body tensed up and he looked a little concerned, but when I caught him and held him there, he squealed with delight. He looked at the room upside down and laughed at how different the view was. As I brought him back up, he arched his back, wanting me to “drop” him again. It only took one fall and one catch for him to develop an infinite amount of trust that I would catch him every time. This is how I think of God. I have fallen so many times. There have been so many moments when I wasn’t sure if He was going to catch me. The more trials I encounter, the stronger I seem to become. So far, there has never been a shadow that wasn’t defeated by the light at the end of the tunnel. It wasn’t just any light. It was a “this was meant to happen” light. It’s happened too many times for me to believe it is just a coincidence.
My mother had cancer. Now, I appreciate every moment she is able to share with me. My father had a heart attack. Now, even when he has bad days, I’m just happy he has days at all. My house burned down, and I learned that “things” aren’t important. I was bullied as a child for being one of the “poor” kids at my private school. Now, I empathize with the odd-one-out. My grandmother got Alzheimer’s. I learned to love the different version of her. I watched my grandfather die and developed an incredibly close relationship we wouldn’t have had otherwise. I’ve seen a couple of friends give up their lives for drugs. It’s made me think twice about the homeless person on the street whose lives were stolen from them by addictions and mental illness. I thought I’d lost a baby. It made me appreciate the gift of life. The list goes on and on.
Can’t we all say that we have been through incredibly difficult times? Is there anyone reading this who has never been through any sort of tragedy? I just can’t imagine that there is. I believe that every single negative thing I have ever experienced happened for a reason. Every bad thing made me better. Every mistake I made led to better decisions down the road. Every death has made me appreciate life. Every pain has made me appreciate health. Every depression has made me appreciate joy. How would we know good without bad? Just as physical pain notifies our brain to remove our hands from a hot stove, emotional pain keeps us empathetic towards others. If we didn’t experience it, I don’t know how we could love. I am grateful for my painful experiences. They have made me the person I am today and have taught me to put my trust in God and his plan. A life with no problems has nothing to teach. If everything were perfect and nobody ever had any problems, why would we be here? Why wouldn’t we just be in Heaven? What would be the point? I really don’t know. That’s because I’m not God and I can’t even comprehend the size of his bubble. I do know one thing though. God never said life would be easy.