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Why do things happen?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

"Why do things happen?" said Tom, the little boy in the back seat.

We were driving around the area and looking at the results of various forces of nature, and I, too, wondered, "Why do things happen?"

Although it looked like bad things happened, God probably held a different view. I tried to explain to Tom, the best I could, that God always has a reason for what goes on. Although God doesn't cause catastrophes he allows people to suffer the consequences of their actions, reap the rewards, and sometimes just wonder why. I explained to Tom that although what happens is bad for some it is a blessing to others.

Where I live is susceptible to tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flooding and often droughts.

"Why?" you ask.

That which appears to be disastrous can also turn out to be fortunate. Many who once lived within a flood plain in town were forced to move to a higher ground. In one area a government buy-out was offered. Those who chose to move permanently were given a fair price for their property. This allowed them to own a better home in a safer and more desirable location. Although some assumed that God was trying to punish them, God was, in reality doing them a favor. Without the nudge of getting flooded out, they would have continued to be apprehensive each time the river rose and lived in substandard housing. We are so like children. God is the parent who takes care of us. We don't always agree with what's good for us, either.

"Why do things happen?" is surely a thing to ponder. Who decides if they are good or bad? Only God knows the outcome. On Monday a levee in Southeast Missouri was intentionally breached -- the rising river had to be dealt with in a manner that would hurt the fewest people. Naturally, those on each sides of the river had reasons why the levee should or should not be breached. In the end, it was decided that flooding farm ground was the better course.

A much-sought-after terrorist was recently apprehended and killed. "Thou shall not kill" is one of God's commandments. Yet because of the evil nature of the terrorist, the U.S. found it necessary to put an end to his spree of crime and violence. One might call that self-defense. However, I won't pretend to play God. His ways are unsearchable and mysterious. It's impossible to guess God's reasoning. We can only believe that "All things do happen for the good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

The tsunami earlier this year in Japan was a freakish happening. Why did it take place? No human knows. I always believe I have a lesson to learn, a truth to see or some other wisdom life has to teach.

Think of Lazarus, whom Jesus failed to heal. Even though the death of Lazarus brought sorrow to his family and friends including Jesus, it materialized for a reason -- to show the power of God. He raised Lazarus for all to see. Consequently, the experience of seeing Lazarus come back to life gave those around visible hope and knowledge that, for sure, they could have new life, too. People saw a new dawn and gained confidence in a future that would never end.

God always has reasons even though we can't always figure out why God "allowed" particular events to occur.

Since what may be bad for one might be good for another, we should not be disheartened at what may occur in life.

Rather, we should keep on believing that God is in control and that ultimately God can make good out of everything, even that which seems irreparable.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

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Ellen Shuck
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