I’ve spent a lot of time over the years asking why bad things happen. And they do. They just do. It’s a fact of life, and unfortunately for us, it’s not a question of “if,” but a question of “when.” If you haven’t read “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” by Harold S. Kushner, I highly recommend it. The wisdom in this book is remarkable and relatable to us all. But I digress…
OK, Debbie Downer…where are you going with this? Give me a minute and I’ll turn it around. I promise.
For those of you who are not aware, I was diagnosed with a neuromuscular illness when I was 15 months old and have spent my life in a wheelchair. Wrapped up in this predicament, I have found pain, discomfort, isolation, humiliation and fear. But that’s not all…
I looked up the word “challenge” on Wikipedia. Its definition is “a general term referring to things that are imbued with a sense of difficulty and victory.” Difficulty and victory. Interesting.
That definition implies darkness, but also light. It suggests difficulty, but also the chance to overcome. It signifies a beginning, but also an end. And that, my friends, embodies what I have come to know.
Pain (whether physical or emotional) is not fun. But it is temporary. I believe with all my heart and soul that everything happens for a reason.
The good things we experience serve to give us joy. They bring us happiness and laughter. They make life enjoyable and exciting. They put a smile on our faces. They’re the reason we get out of bed in the morning.
But the bad things serve a purpose, too. The challenges I have experienced in my life have made me stronger, more brave, more compassionate, more faithful and more accepting. It’s the challenges that have built my character and taught me who I want to be. If I had never experienced suffering, my life would simply be a superficial acceptance of gifts. All I would know would be selfishness.
Good and bad serve to define each other.
What I would say is this…we know that bad things have happened and will happen to us in our lives. It is what you do with them that matter. I will be in a wheelchair every day of my life, but the storm of my disability comes and goes. Some of us have financial difficulties, but eventually, we’ll be out of the hole. Some of us get divorced, but then find new love. Some of us lose our jobs, but then a new job comes along. Some of our family and friends die, but we see inspiration in their stories.
I will leave you with Ecclesiastes 3, 1-8, which says:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.