Friday, December 19th

As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:1-5

“Dear Pastor, I would love to know more about how God works in this world. Why do some people lose their children in car accidents or to cancer and others ‘get miracles’ and healed or the car accidents are ‘near misses’?”

This question, the “why do bad things happen to good people?”, question, is, along with a few others, one of the universal questions of all time. If it had a simple answer, it would long ago have been answered.

People tend to answer it from two different ends of a spectrum. On the far left, people say, “Bad things happen to good people because bad things happen to all people.” And on the far right, people say, “What seems bad isn’t really bad because everything that happens is ordained by God and is part of God’s larger plan for a really good purpose.”

Neither answer is sufficient for the parent grieving the untimely death of their daughter.

Normally, when that question comes up in real life, I try to reframe it. What sounds like an intellectual question really is an emotional/spiritual question – it isn’t so much an answer the parent wants as it is their daughter back or some tiny ray of hope that will help them through the overwhelming weight of their grief.

But yesterday morning, when I was quiet in the back yard, praying about what is going on in the lives of some folks from my congregation, including my own family, I got a different answer. It was as if God said to me, “Why does everyone think I am in the prevention business? I’m in the redemption business, not the prevention business.”

And then I tried to think of Bible stories where God prevented bad things from happening…and the only ones that came to me were trivial and temporary. Most of the Bible stories are about God redeeming events, working good out of bad, transforming people and their perspectives on and purposes for living life.

I thought especially about this story from John and the disciples’ question, “Who sinned that he was born blind?” What is the cause? Who is to blame? Questions that ultimately take God off the hook by putting the responsibility elsewhere. But then Jesus goes into action, not to answer questions, but to restore a blind man to sight. Jesus redeems the moment by rescuing the man from his slavery to blindness; he doesn’t merely offer an intellectual answer. He springs into action.

I think of the millions of prayers said every single day by millions of people seeking understanding in the midst of unexplainable tragedy or imploring God to prevent bad things from happening in the first place. Clearly, there is power in such prayers. They are not a waste of our time, nor are they unwelcomed prayers to God. We can ask for anything, like children speaking to a loving parent. But few are the children who see the whole picture or the parents who can prevent every bad thing from happening to their children.

In other words, the big question remains unanswered. “Why” goes unanswered but “What can God do with it?” remains to be lived out, one day at a time.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you hear the prayers of people begging to be protecting from the bad things that can happen in our lives. You hear those seeking understanding in the midst of the mysteries of life. Sustain us in our prayers, work new life out of the daily deaths of tragedy and loss, and continue to do among us what we cannot do ourselves. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Responses to “Friday, December 19th”

  1. Juan Says:

    Kayte,You may very well not remember me, but I went to the same socohl you did as a kid, and was a grade ahead of you. It’s been forever since I’ve acutally seen you, but am following your story & every blog post-op. I’m SO glad to hear that you and your brother are doing well!!! You are absoutely a trooper, and I am truly inspired by you. Keep your chin up! I can’t imagine what you or your family are going through, but please know that we’re all rooting for you!

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