Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People, Anyway?
Have you ever thought about how unfair life can be? Some of the best people I know have also faced some of the hardest challenges, and it seems like every time I am doing really well and following God with all my heart- another trial hits me and knocks me off my feet. This week, I went to a new doctor to get treatment for a varicose vein in my foot. Instead, I got an ultrasound and then went in to see a doctor who appeared stiff and uncomfortable. He could hardly look me in the eye, and “I have bad news” was written all over his face. He used a bunch of big words like “embolization” and “micro-catheters” – words I had never heard of before. He said he couldn’t help me, but that he would do his best to call around to figure out who could.
Just as he awkwardly made his way to the door, I was able to get the name of the condition he had diagnosed me with so that I could research it myself. It turns out I have a really rare, incurable blood vessel problem called an arterialvenous malformation in my foot. I still don’t know much about it, except for that it takes many surgeries to correct. Even after they are fixed, they will grow back over time and may need to be corrected several times throughout my life. They’re complicated and dangerous and unlike any challenge that I’ve faced yet.
This news absolutely devestated me. How could this be happening? How could God allow this to happen to me, when I had done nothing but follow him and try to help other people along the way. The age old question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” ran through my head for what felt like the thousandth time in my life.
This question has weighed heavily on my mind during the last couple of day and, really, for most of this past year. I have been doing a lot of prayer and soul-searching to figure this out. I deeply believe that trials are a part of life and that they can make us stronger, more resilient people- but this just felt like too much. I have been on the edge of what I can handle more times in the past year and a half than I can even count, and I have spent countless days crushed under the weight of my challenges and feeling out of control and hopeless.
The Savior’s Suffering- The Greatest Injustice The World Will Ever Know
This week, I also studied the last week of the Savior’s life in preparation for Easter Sunday. On Sunday, I read about the Savior’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and how the people welcomed him and hallowed him as their king. Throughout the week, I read about his teachings and warnings that he gave to the people, urging them to prepare for the time when he would come again after his death. Today, on Thursday, I read of his betrayal and sufferings in Gethsemane.
At this time, Jesus lost everything. He was betrayed by one of his closest friends. He was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, as he suffered with the sins of every person that ever lived or ever will live on this earth. He sweat as it were drops of great blood and prayed in agony to the father, begging him for the strength to continue. And, hoping there may be an easier way he plead the father saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
The Savior was perfect- he never sinned, and he always put the needs of others before himself. He was the unblemished lamb that the Jews had looked forward to and sacrificed during each passover, which happened the very day that Jesus suffered in Gethsemane. He was the best person to ever live on the earth. Yet, the worst thing possible happened to the absolute best person. The worst suffering imaginable happened to the one who had done no harm.
Peter tried to protect him- but it was to no avail. His disciples tried to stay with him- but they could not even watch with him through the night. Even Jesus Christ himself begged with his father and asked him if there could be any other way- but when there wasn’t, he allowed it to happen. He suffered willingly, and he suffered completely because he knew of the joy that was to come.
In Gethsemane and on the cross, the greatest injustice the world would ever know was committed. It seemed that there was no hope and no peace to be found in the earth. The whole earth quaked at his death and the disciples mourned, believing that Christ’s work was finished. But the beautiful thing is that it wasn’t. By some miraculous power that none of us can truly understand, he that was dead rose again- and with him he overcame the power of sin and death permanently in our lives.
Because Of Christ, No Suffering or Trial Is Permanent
Though none of our suffering can compare to what the Savior was asked to do, and no good person comes even close to how good Jesus Christ is, I believe that all of us will have hopeless days and dark nights. I believe we will all reach points in our lives where we feel crushed and unable to continue onward with. Where we will cry out to God because of the injustices of the world and beg him to take away our suffering. Sometimes our lives will feel as hopeless as Gethsemane and as dark as the night when the Savior gave up the ghost on the cross.
But because of Christ, that suffering isn’t permanent. After John described the wars and and destruction that would occur during the second coming in the book of Revelation, John concludes his testament by saying: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be more any pain.” (Revelations 21:4) Paul, addressing a struggling group of Christians in Rome stated, “for I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
Christ will reveal Glory in you if you turn to him. He will turn your darkest nights into beautiful resurrections, and transform you into someone stronger and braver than you ever imagined possible. Suffering is a part of life, but so is rejoicing. Pain is inevitable, but so is healing. Though at times it may feel like we are in a fire so deep that we will never escape, the glory which God will reveal in us in the end will be far greater than any challenge we face.
Though this is always true, in Gethsemane and during the seemingly hopeless nights before Christ’s ressurrection, these truths aren’t easy to see. The Savior promised his disciples many times that he would rise again, but it was hard for his disciples to believe that something so fantastic could truly happen. They didn’t want Christ to suffer in the first place, and struggled to accept that what happened was really God’s will. They struggled to comprehend how the Savior could possibly deliver himself from death.
I would love for God to swoop down and take away my trials. I would love for him to heal me as he did the woman with the issue of blood, or the many blind men or lepers. But if he doesn’t, that’s okay. If I suffer for the rest of my life with this problem, it will still be all right. I know that He has been there for me and will continue to help me every step along the way. I know that he can work miracles because I’ve seen them, and that one day all things will be made right through His infinite wisdom and grace. I know that He will help me today and every day that I turn to him, though healing will come in His time and wisdom.
Until then, let us all do as the Apostle Paul taught in Hebrews, when he said, “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)