Questions & Answers

Life isn’t always fair. Bad things happen to good people. Good things happen to bad people.

I was reminded about this reality this week in the course of separate trips to get haircuts for both me and Jan. Both of us had conversations with our hair stylists that illustrated this point. Jan’s stylist reported today that his car was totaled in the hailstorm that swept through Denver on Wednesday evening. Other people had trees fall down or gardens shredded, while the beautiful, recently planted flowers around our home simply got a helpful drink from the rain. Jesus said in his sermon on the mount that God makes the sun shine on both the good and the evil, and sends the rain on both the just and the unjust. It seems to me a lot like just plain good or bad luck whether a storm hits us squarely where it hurts, or passes by us harmlessly.

And I had an interesting conversation with my stylist the day before, learning that Kristy, a single mom with three kids, who is already caring for two of her nieces, was being asked to take on a third niece. She was feeling overwhelmed, and it became evident that she has to work very hard and does not have the same kind of family and church support system and economic stability that I am blessed with. Why is her life so hard and my family’s life so relatively easy? Similarly, why do some people get hit with cancer or layoffs or other challenges that seem to bypass many of us?

The disciples were wrestling with this kind of question when they saw a man who had been born blind and asked Jesus, “Who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” (John 9:2-3). Jesus answered that neither the man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that God’s work might be displayed in the situation. God’s love and power were then demonstrated in the act of Jesus healing him.

How are God’s love and power demonstrated today? Jesus gives us a clue in his sentence before the one about the sun rising and the rain falling on the just and the unjust. He says in Matthew 5:44, “What I tell you is this – love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. It is when we encounter disasters big and small in the lives of those around us that we are given the opportunity to demonstrate the reality of God’s love today. The kids at Open Door, the families on the garbage dump in Nicaragua, the neighbors who are dealing with cancer or with storm damage are not our enemies, but they are people we are called to love in God’s name. God’s love and power are revealed, both to our neighbors and to ourselves when we reach out in love.

Dear God,
We don’t understand much about life and why bad things happen to people. Please help us to focus not so much on trying to figure out answers to those questions, and more on where you are giving us opportunities to share your love, in ways big and small. Thank you for loving us unconditionally!  Amen

Dave Erickson-Pearson

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