Have you ever wondered why bad things happen to good people? I certainly have, and did again this past weekend. On Friday last my wife who I consider to be a very good person, took a fall and suffered a broken shoulder which has not only been extremely painful, but will keep her out of commission for the next 6 to 8 weeks. It’s going to be tough on her, she is very active and always on the go. It seems like she has more going on now that she’s retired than when she used to work full time. She’s amazing!
Besides caring for my live-in elderly father and taking care of other household tasks, she makes the time to try out new recipes, help with the grandkids when needed, is there for her two elderly lady friends when they call for assistance or simply to talk and work part time for the American Cancer Society as a sponsor to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients where she goes above and beyond the norm, visiting them at their homes or accompanying them to their chemo or doctor visits. In addition to all that she puts up with me! she does all of this and she still finds time to take in an estate or yard sale on occasion! Incredible! I just don’t know how she does it all. Sadly her shoulder injury will prevent her from doing much of anything for a couple of months including driving. This couldn’t have happened at a worse time. The holidays are one of the busiest times of the year. It’s just not right.
It hardly seems fair that this should happen to her, I guess her battle with breast cancer wasn’t bad enough? I would think so, but what do I know. It seems like good people like her are cursed to face misfortune at a much higher rate than those of us who are simply less than good or even bad. For the purpose of this discussion lets define ‘good people’ as those people who live their lives with honesty and integrity, who respect their fellow man and place the welfare of others above their own. If there were a scale to weigh the goodness of a person where 1 is the worst and 10 is the best, these would be the people who score an 8 and above. The very best of us.
You would think that this particular group would be rewarded somehow for their humanity and goodness, that only seems fair right? Yeah, you’d think that they would have some sort of immunity, but you’d be wrong. That simply isn’t the case. This group of do-gooders seem to have more bad things happen to them than the rest of us combined. But why? It just isn’t fair. But then who ever said that life was fair. Remember what Bill Gates said,”life isn’t fair, get used to it.” And as my wife would add, “Deal with it!” Even with everything life has thrown her way she has always maintained the “Deal with it” mentality. Breast cancer? deal with it! High cholesterol ? High blood pressure? Deal with it! And deal with it she does as should we all.
Yeah, she and my cousin Dave have a lot in common. Both have faced some major health issues which for most of us would be the equivalent of trudging up the Ridge Route in an old 40 horsepower VW with a blown valve or two. For them their battles with cancer were merely speed bumps on the road of life. I sure wish I could view everything that life has thrown my way as speed bumps instead of steep, barely passable grades, sure would have made things more bearable. It’s obvious that our attitude plays a major role in handling the bad things that come our way. I was always one of those who suffered from the “poor me” syndrome. Yeah, I’d pout, moan and even cry for far too long instead of just dealing with my situation and moving on. Thankfully my wife helped me get over that, eventually.
Faith also plays a major role in dealing with the ‘bad’, however it’s hard to maintain one’s faith in God or anything else when it seems the sky above you is crashing down around you. Which brings us back to the million dollar question, “Why do bad things happen to good people” or to anyone for that matter? How can a just and loving God allow it to happen? And certainly many people find it easy to blame God for their troubles.
I remember once when I was going through some hard times I spoke with my cousin, a Roman Catholic Priest. After explaining my situation to him he counseled me and kept bringing the trials of Job into the conversation. I remember disagreeing with him (for I could be quite disagreeable then) and even arguing with him about the fairness of it all. Finally he sort of smiled, reached over and placed his hand on my shoulder and said,” John you’ll never fully understand the ways of God and His plan for you.” He said some other things about the teachings of the church but by that point I really wasn’t listening any longer. I remember walking away angry and feeling let down. I felt that his response was a total, cop out. How dare he tell me I’d never understand, did he think I was stupid or something?
Funny, but now all these years later I’m beginning to think that he was right. Perhaps in my folly I believed I could comprehend God’s actions but now I realize that maybe we are not privileged to grasp God’s reality and full intent in our existence. Perhaps what we see as unfair or unjust in our lives, is in the big scheme of things, actually right and just.
Still, dealing with the bad in the here and now isn’t easy. Sometimes God’s Plan seems to make little sense to us but may make all the difference in the world on the outcome of our lives. All of those tedious tests and trials we go through serve a purpose and can be educational. The lessons we learn or in some cases fail to learn help to shape who we become. We may at times suffer, but the pain and suffering we experience is instrumental in giving meaning to our lives.
We all know that everything happens for a reason, but we may never understand why ‘bad things happen to good people’ or even ‘why good things happen to bad people.’ There may not be any single answer that will satisfy us or help us make sense of things. Suffice it to say that bad things happen to good people because it is part of God’s plan, part of our life journey. As my cousin Dave and I were fond of saying “it’s all just part of the trip.”
We can not hope to ever understand God’s intentions. We are not divine like God, we are mere human beings, His creations. What we should do is to humble ourselves to His greatness and ask him to help us and overcome the pain. We should always rely on God for guidance rather than questioning His actions.
Bad things happen to good people, there is no denying it, but then so do good things. Have faith in God’s plan for you. He is a loving and Just Creator. Never, never forsake Him.
Just a thought,