I’ve never been one to agree with the phrase “Everything happens for a reason,” but I’ve got to say, I feel like the answer to this is “yes.” If you really think about it, clearly the answer is yes. I had been praying for the people in California and the ugliness those families are going through. The heart ache. The pain. I began to be overwhelmed with the feeling of how much hurting there is in the world and I always seem to find myself asking God why does this happen. I know I’m definitely not the first to ask this. So many have given their own answers to this. I can only share where I’m at and what I feel the Spirit ministering to me.
Yes, there is a reason for bad things that happen. Sin. God gave us free will and choice, and because of that, we have sin. We have awful things that people choose to do to other people. We have flawed human bodies that are capable of producing life-threatening sicknesses. I don’t think I’ve ever really meditated on what it means to live in a “fallen” world.
I know sin began with Adam and Eve in the garden and their choice for sin (stupid tree), instead of what God had for them, but when I start to think about that, I yet again, find myself asking God, why did you even have to put the tree there? Why couldn’t we have all been happy and perfectly content to only know You and live in blind joy with one another? Why do You allow sin?
This might seem weird, but I immediately thought of a scene from Hunger Games when Katniss and Peta arrive at the party in the Capital and are offered a drink. The party goer explained that if you get full, you take a drink and it will make you throw up so you can keep on eating and try all the different foods.
The people at the capital had NO IDEA what it meant to be hungry. They didn’t know what it meant to savor a bite. Relish in the opportunity to have a full meal and to go to bed without starving for once. As Peta mentions, people are starving and they are throwing up food to eat more!
God loves us too much to keep us in a box of blind joy.
He wants us to know what it means to really experience unconditional love. To savor it. Relish it. By giving us free will, we will know what it means to be starving. To be so hungry for something that we can’t hardly live without it. We will know what it means to experience a pain that is unbearable. To feel like we have nothing. We will know what it means to feel hopeless. Yet. you can only truly know what you have if you know what it’s like to not have it. There have been times in my life when I felt truly hopeless and alone. In those moments, I had to surrender myself and let God wrap me in His arms. I mean TRULY let myself experience His love. His forgiveness. His grace. That can be a tough choice when you are full of anger.
I think of so many stories in the Bible when bad things happened to people who didn’t deserve them. Do you think God wanted Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery? To be thrown in jail for years for being falsely accused of rape? Do you think God wanted David to have Bathsheba’s husband killed on the front lines in battle? Do you think God wanted Job to lose everything, including his family? Those awful things happened because someone somewhere had a choice to make and he chose selfishly. What is amazing in those stories is how God is faithful. He never left them. He was there, holding them. He was there to lift Job out of his pit of despair. He was there when Joseph was alone in prison.
I love it when Joseph’s brothers finally realize their brother is the big man in charge during the famine in Egypt and as he reveals himself to his brothers, who thought he was probably dead after all these years, Joseph says to them, “God sent me ahead to pave the way…it wasn’t you who sent me here but God.” Joseph could have easily blamed his brothers for choosing what they did. Instead, he saw God’s faithfulness in it all. He chose to see God and let himself experience whatever it was God had for him. God revealed himself to Joseph during his trials. In Genesis 39, scripture says that “God was with Joseph.” Joseph experienced God’s faithfulness, during what seemed to be Joseph’s end of the rope. Joseph had been “starving” for years, and God satiated him.
There are so many starving in the world. So much ugliness. But then, there is so much beauty. So many people reaching out to the hurting in the world. So many working to feed the hungry, to educate the homeless. So many who are trying to help the starving find their way to God. Yes, there are a lot of bad things that happen, but I believe that God is always faithful during times we don’t understand. Believing that is not always an easy choice, but I choose it. I’ve seen the evidence of his faithfulness operating through others. The neighbor who drops by a bag of food because she thought the family might need it. The school who decided to raise money for a little girl with cancer.
We don’t always get the answers. We go through something that may never make sense to us. But God can make sense for you. He can bring order out of chaos. Man can choose ugly things, but God is available to anyone who believes, and He can hold you during the ugly times and He’ll be there during the joyful times too.
Because then, in those moments, you’ll truly know what it means to be alive.