When Bad Things Happen

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Jeremiah 29:11

If God is good and wants the best for us then why do bad things happen? This discussion and debate are as old as the hills. I can only share what I’ve learned in my life. Some prayers don’t get answered, pain is suffered, and some diseases aren’t healed. We live in a fallen and toxic world. I don’t know why children have cancer or are sexually abused, but I’ve experienced both. I know that when we give that experience to our loving God, we work through it with him; he can turn it into something beautiful. Most of our pain is caused by people. Of course, we hurt and are hurt because we are all fallen beings. If we weren’t fallen, the cross would have been unnecessary. I’ve had fibromyalgia, stage 4 cancer, and recently fell from a 5-6 foot height shattering my heel. I sit now with my leg and the foot bandaged and elevated, holding off on pain meds so this post can be halfway coherent. You may ask why God let this happen. He clearly tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 that he has good plans for us. He doesn’t want to harm us; he wants to give us hope and a future. So why did he let me fall?

Now to Him who is able to keep [a]you from stumbling, And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy…

Jude 24

Wishes and Realizations

So often, I wished to be one of those delicately poised women who physically move with gentle purpose, but it’s never been my nature. I often barrel through life. And while I’ve worked at taking my time and being slower, it frustrates me when I feel like I’m drowning in my list of things to do. God has used my personality and my fervor, and while I can improve some things, I need not resent the nature I have. God uses it, and he’s making me better. After my injury, I asked myself, “Why did I fall.” I’ve gone up and down those types of attic ladders all of my life; some were in a lot worse shape than my new ones with treads on them. But when I reflected on that day, I realized something. God gives us grace and protects us from tragic events almost daily. How many times has there been a huge wreck, and my tardiness or whatever got me going early saved my life? He was able to keep me from falling from that ladder, from needing at least one surgery, and save me from this pain; why didn’t he?

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

Isaiah 61:3

Going Overboard

I tend to go way above 100% on things that I do. It gives me a buffer; I don’t have to worry about them going wrong if I’ve overdone it. Does God really want or expect us to be so extra careful and so extra prepared that we waste time, energy, and effort doing the unnecessary? I had recently asked God to help me cut out the extra things that I do to become more streamlined. However, that day, I went against that goal and nature being worked out in me. I already had plenty of containers to match my energy and time, but I followed my compulsion to hurriedly climb up in that attic to get even more containers with which to collect snow. I was melting it down for water during the Texas snow-mageddon of 2021. I was fatigued, hurried, and though I’d been up and down that ladder a million times before, that day, with my distractions and snow moistened boots, I slipped, and my weight came down on my heel.

Was God Punishing Me?

We tend to see God in the same way that we view our parents. Some of us had parents who were very punitive and condemning. If we did, that’s how we see most bad things that happen, God’s punishment. If our parents were distracted or careless or too busy to care, that’s how we reference God in our lives. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was not punishing me. I was experiencing the consequences of stepping out and going against the wisdom. The very wisdom that I have prayed for and needed in that unique situation not to fall. Sometimes we think God is punishing us, but we’re just dealing with the consequences of a decision we made or an action we didn’t take. In that situation, God wants us to learn, of course, but more than anything, he wants to love on and comfort us, and he does. Parents do their best, but they are flawed, trying to navigate living in a world. God is the perfect parent. He clearly tells us that He doesn’t want condemnation for us. His great love for us was the purpose of the cross.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:17

Let’s take a moment and ask God to show us where we may be seeing God in the limited vision of our human parents. Ask him to open our eyes to see him for who he is and how he feels towards us. He is the one who knows us the best and loves us the most.

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