When I asked her what she meant, she told me that she believed God was teaching her a lesson by taking her child. That she had done something in the past that had “earned” this pain.
Like what, I wanted to know.
I don’t know she told me. That’s what I have to figure out.
I let those words sit there at the moment because I was trying to be a witness to the larger story of her grief.
But you better believe I went back to them later.
Yes, Christians say it all the time: These things happen for a reason. Too often, in our hurt and grief, in our effort to understand, we think this means that our suffering is a result of something we have already done.
We can hurt ourselves and others trying to find the reason, trying to place the blame.
We can damage our relationship with God if we see Him as a petty and cruel Father who punishes us, withholding love and forgiveness.
I do believe that things happen for a reason, but the reason is not behind us. It’s in front of us, and it’s a gift from God to help us heal. When people say that good came from some horrible suffering, this is what they mean. If we stay open and trusting through the hardest times, we will see God’s plan.
Even if we’re angry and questioning and closed down for a while, it doesn’t matter. There will always be a lifeline. That’s who God is, the Greatest Lifeline in the History of Ever. He doesn’t make bad things happen, but he does help us turn bad things to good.
It’s a mistake to look back and surrender to the suffering. As hard as it is, we have to look forward and surrender to the hope.
For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity,
to give you a future and a hope.