I have a friend who recently was put in the hospital with heart troubles. That, in and of itself, is not surprising. After all, I am on the north side of 50 years old. Some of my friends are going to encounter health issues. In fact, it could happen to me.
But this situation is different. The friend I mentioned is 23 years old. He played on a youth baseball team I coached, along with my youngest son. His entire family attended my church in Michigan.
He spent time in two hospitals in Detroit before being sent to the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor. I lived long enough in metro Detroit to know that being sent to U of M is a big deal. In fact, he eventually was diagnosed with congestive heart failure – at 23 years of age.
When I talked to his mom on the phone, she asked me a question for which I have no answer: “Why is this happening?”
I have to admit something. The same question crosses my mind. Why do things like this happen? Why do young people die in automobile accidents? Why does disease attack small children? Why are babies born with birth defects?
The simple truth is that I cannot answer those questions. Neither can you. And for some, these issues become barriers to faith.
I admit that these questions trouble me from time to time. It is disturbing that bad things happen to good people. But on the other hand, it’s also fair to ask this question: Why do good things happen?
The truth is that we could be inundated with nothing but bad things.
The Bible says that God allows the rain to fall on both the just and the unjust. And for that I am grateful.
As I consider these questions, it finally occurs to me that I cannot answer them and I need to stop trying. The answers are not nearly as important as how I respond.
The Bible tells us, and our own experience shows, that God often works in the midst of troubling times to bring good in our lives.
Paul wrote, “God works all things together for good to those who loved him and are called according to his purpose.” He also encouraged us to “give thanks in all things.”
Notice that neither of those statements claims that everything is good. We are not told to give thanks for everything. But we are reminded that God is at work and that he will accomplish his purposes in this world.
We may not understand why things happen in this world, but the old gospel song reminds us: “We will understand it better by and by.”
God does not owe us an explanation for why things happen. But he has promised something better. He has promised never to leave us or to forsake us. He has promised to be with us through all things.
That is truly good news.