All this trouble is a clear sign that God has decided to make you fit for the kingdom. You’re suffering now, but justice is on the way. -2 Thessalonians 1:5
Why does violence fall on that home and not the one next to it? Why does cancer take one good daddy, but not the abusive daddy? Why do bad things happen to good people?
Jesus said, “Why are you calling me good? No one is good, only God.” -Mark 10:18
No one is ‘good’, so where do we draw the line? What is ‘good enough’ and is the standard the same for everybody?
When I was between the ages of six and ten, I was in foster care. Outside of foster care I was left home by myself with nothing but a bottle in my crib. All of my baby teeth were rotten. I was starved. I remember a very long span of time where we would sit down to a piece of buttered bread and a glass of water for dinner. I was tortured. My mom’s boyfriend would control her by threatening my life. If she didn’t obey him, he would dangle me off of a balcony by my ankle. I know what the cock of a pistol hammer sounds like in my ear.
Why do bad things happen to kids?
As painful as my memories are, when I got into foster care I was protected and fed. I can go into the fact that I was always ‘the foster kid.’ I was always ‘second’ or ‘temporary.’ No one wants to invest in something that could only be there for a few weeks. But, I can’t focus on that. As many things as I may have every human right to complain about, my sister had it worse.
She would have given anything if hungry and forgotten were all she had to worry about. She would rather be a writhing, screaming toddler held by her ankle over a concrete parking lot from a third story balcony. Maybe she wouldn’t mind the smell of gun metal or the bruise on her temple.
I remember her always saying she wished she were a boy. She was a beautiful little girl with red curly hair and freckles. When someone would tell her how beautiful her hair was, she’d say, ‘I know.’ I didn’t know her very well, we were in separate foster homes for most of our childhoods.
My sister’s hell began in foster care. When she would tell me about being held prisoner in a bedroom while she could hear our brother playing with his friends outside the window, I understood why she wished she was a boy. The repeated trauma that her five year old body survived, left her incapable of holding her bladder while she slept. When she moved to another family, they saw her incontinence as an act of rebellious hate and they would put her in a scalding tub and scrub her skin raw with abrasive dish pads. She believed them when they told her she was filthy inside and out.
Why does this happen?
Scripture tells us to die to ourselves, to consider every loss as gain.
I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. -Philippians 3:8
If a person endures suffering, their standards for living are lower. A prisoner of war doesn’t care what kind of hotel he sleeps in when he’s rescued. A starving child doesn’t care how the steak is prepared. My sister loved our adoptive family and I had a harder time.
Do you submit your life to God under your terms or His? What if He lets your life be destroyed only to purify your faith? What if He won’t heal my sister because He wants her to believe that His grace covers her shortcomings?
Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. -1 Peter 1:7
Life steals our innocence and leaves us wrecked. A mother can hold her sick baby in her arms and be in the middle of praying for healing when God takes the baby home. A wife can fight off the attraction to another man while her husband is giving himself to another woman. Innocent children can be collateral damage in the storms of their parents lives.
After evil rips through like a tornado and uproots innocence and hope, what’s left? Where do the survivors go? What are we supposed to do now? How can you make sense out of the senseless?
I think the answer is found in the letting go.
Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through and more, learn to think like him. Think of your sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get your own way. Then you’ll be able to live out your days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what you want. -1 Peter 4:1-2
This is hard teaching. Jesus asks for everything. What do you want? Do you want to go through the process or do you want your life back? There is always hope. You just have to learn where to put your hope.
So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. -1 Peter 5:9