I have never been short on words. If you’ve ever read one of my IG captions, one of my blog posts, or had a text conversation with me, you’d know this. If I was granted a role in the Marvel Universe, my power would most certainly be talking people to death. But all jokes aside, words have always come easy and plentiful to me. And I have always – some way, some how – had the right ones to say.
I’m one of those people who seems to have the right answer to everything. Ask me a question, and I can either offer you a viable answer, or something intelligible enough that I don’t seem absolutely clueless, but also vague enough that you don’t go off and quote me. But you’ll always get an answer that both you and I am satisfied with mostly because I’m a pensive person who really thinks over life and all its intricacies with a consistency possibly only matched by a classical theorist.
Of course, as a Christian, ‘why do bad things happen to good people?‘ has been one of those questions that has been posed to me over and over again.
And I’ve always had an answer… till now.
I’ve always gone the way of arguing that ‘goodness’ in itself is out of the realm of human attainment. What is good after all? If something is good, then another thing must be bad. And for there to be these measures of good and bad, there has to be something ‘good’ to measure against to determine bad, and the only thing TRULY and PERFECTLY good that can serve as a measure is God. And because no one is God but God, everything else by extension is less than good.
Of course, some may argue that goodness and badness are not in opposition and have always coexisted equally and in harmony, but the truth is that for something to be determined to be bad, it HAS to be measured against something greater, ie, good. I could go into the apologetics of it all, but instead I’ll encourage you to read Mere Christianity by CS Lewis and continue on with my initial train of thought:
Why bad things happen to good people.
Now, my answer to this question has always predicated on this idea that if God is the only true measure of goodness – the only thing in our universe void of sin or wrongdoing – then to claim that our supposed goodness was the reason that we should be exempt from bad things was pompous at best and sheer insanity at worst. ‘No one is good, so no one is exempt from the bad’ was my logical answer. And while it is ‘a’ answer, I’ve recently come to accept that it is one that doesn’t bring much comfort nor revelation of God’s heart for His creation.
See, my mom was recently diagnosed with cancer. Supposedly a rare form. And we are all very much scrambling around in the dark as to what it all means. I am always the cool one in a crisis – or so I project outwardly. But the moment I hung up the phone with my father after hearing the news, I felt anger and grief well up inside of me – both directed at HIM. Not her, God. I thought. No one deserves cancer, yes, but DEFINITELY not my mother. Anyone who has met my mother knows she couldn’t harm a fly. She has never said a mean word to me, never raised her voice at me, never even made me do a single chore in my entire life. Her idea of chores was asking me kindly if I would do something for her, then doing it herself because I would always finesse my way out of it. I was an absolute monster of a child – she was a saint. She had spent my entire childhood battling with an illness – an illness that robbed both of us of so much – and here she was facing sickness again. Surely there had to be some mistake somewhere – God had to have dropped the ball on this one.
That’s when it hit me: there are good people. Not perfect people, but people who genuinely make the world better than they met it in both big and small ways. People who truly deserve for good things to happen to them – and not just my mother. My friend Salma. People I serve in church with. People who simply make the world a better place. And a lot of times bad things do happen to them. And to simplify that… to boil that down to an equation of good and bad just is not enough of an answer.
So why DO bad things happen to good people? I don’t know. For once I don’t have the perfect answer, and I don’t feel the need to reason it out. Because I’ve learned that I don’t need answers to trust God, and to trust that He is good even when I don’t feel like it, and even when I can’t see it. And I’m learning that instead of scrutinizing goodness, I can change my perspective on what ‘bad’ is:
Bad is an opportunity for God to show up and perform a miracle.
Bad is a chance at a testimony.
Bad is where people draw closer to God and encounter His love.
Bad is a place to show others that our faith isn’t just fair-weather.
Bad is where people know how much you care.
It’s my prayer that if you happen to be going through the bad right now, you will find rest in the truth that ‘even if’, God is still good, and that in itself is enough.