It sometimes seems like the bottom is falling out, so many things going on and going “wrong” that you just feel like throwing your hands up and surrendering to whatever it is that’s coming up next. Even in our small congregation and even smaller Sunday morning Bible Study group, there are so many friends and family facing health challenges: cancer, terminal disease, chronic afflictions, surgery and other hospitalizations, and other tragedies. Our prayer list gets longer each week.
And yet, even in the midst of that, there are still encouragements: family healings, reconciliations, improved financial situations, good visits, new births and so on. Somehow, we often tend to separate the events and circumstances of our lives into “good” and “bad.” Certainly, there are many things that are more pleasant than others. It’s kind of hard to imagine how the death of a grandparent and getting a job promotion could be seen as fitting onto the same list.
In reality, it’s a bit more complicated, I think. Sometimes, unpleasant and undesired events bring couples, families and friends closer together. Sometimes, what seems like good fortune, say a job promotion for example, actually brings more stress and/or the loss of relationships. I had a good friend many years ago who went blind at the age of forty or so. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” he confided many years later. Even though I would never have wished it on him, after listening to his explanation, I understood what he meant.
He’d gained insights, understandings and a level of faith he could not imagine having happened any other way. As I look back at disappointments in my life, I can see benefits that came as a result of circumstances I would never have chosen. Even in the events from which I could not determine the good gained, I still believe that there was good.
I’m not suggesting that we embrace every calamity, tragedy and horror as something good, nor proposing that every perceived blessing be rejected for some potential drawback. Instead, I think that I should be less prone toward too readily dividing life’s events into my quick little lists. All of it is life. It seems good to be cautious about the things we desire, recognizing that the same fire that brings welcome warmth could also burn down the house if we get too careless with it.
I think it’s good, too, to view the challenges and even the heartaches as part of the fabric that makes us who we are. If we make wise choices and deliberate focus on God’s good work, we’ll see that even those things can bring unexpected good. Hearts that have together endured life’s most painful weatherings are bound together in ways that the fairest days can never bring.
Even though we never seek those darker moments, we might be a bit slower to curse them.