Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bad Things. . . Good People

Why do bad things happen to good people?  How could a loving God allow bad things to happen?

Growing up, I had this picture of God sitting on a throne making judgments about individual scenarios allowing or disallowing each one.  In other words, I imagined that God was dictating both good things and bad things, when and to whom they would happen.

What if it's not like that?

A few years ago, I was struggling with the idea of my own failings.  I was praying a lot asking God why he made me with all of the brokenness and weaknesses that I saw in myself.  Then I had a dream that changed my whole paradigm.

In my dream, I was decorating a Christmas tree.  I would examine each ornament and enjoy the work that had gone into creating each one.  One of my favorites is a very detailed, egg-shaped, ceramic ornament that my in-laws got on an Alaskan cruise.  It's beautiful!  In the dream, I held that ornament up and said, "I'll put this one right here."  Then, my perspective changed.  My focus zoomed in on the ornament, and it was different--it was me.  Someone was holding me and saying, "I'll put this one right here."

Then it hit me.  I was like one of those ornaments--unique and beautiful apart from my surroundings and situation.  What if those things that I hate in myself are not weakness and brokenness at all?  What if those things are gifts?  What if I'm looking at them from the wrong perspective?  What if I am a work of art apart from my situation--I am not defined by my situation.

The new paradigm: each one of us is a unique and perfectly crafted individual created on purpose for purpose.  The weakness and brokenness come from somewhere else--from the way I choose to react to my surroundings and situation.  Every weakness represents a poor choice I made in response to my situation.  I could have made a better choice and avoided the baggage and brokenness.  The good choices are not always as easy as the bad ones.  Sometimes, my situation does not depend on me alone and other people's choices can make my choices difficult.  However, my choices determine my baggage.

What if God is sitting up there saying, "You're not broken.  I made you that way on purpose.  Instead of hating those things about yourself, start by asking me why I gave you those gifts."

What if God isn't dictating the bad things?  What if God simply chose to give us the freedom to fail?  What if those failures are the cause of all of the brokenness?  What if God is giving us only the good and allowing us to choose what to do with it; not dictating evil, but rather allowing us to do some of the dictating?

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