Wrong Question.

You don’t have to look very far to be offended, see injustice, or experience something that seems unfair or hurts the heart. Sometimes it feels that there are more things happening out there that are wrong than right. Lately, as some big fat question marks plaster my world, I’m slowly realizing that there is a possibility that I may be asking all the wrong questions.

The Real Question

When stuff like this happens, when there is a loss, when the unfair and unjust occurs–the question is not, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” If this is the question being asked, then the answers we come up with (if any) will never be satisfactory or come close to satisfying our souls. There are things that happen that we may never know the “why.” How could this have happened to her? Why did that happen to him? Why me? Wrong questions. Instead the question perhaps needs to be asked this way, “What happens to good people when bad things happen?”

Really, what happens to good people when bad things happen?

The answers to this question make far more sense and are far more satisfying, if given a chance.

1. They become stronger.

Junk happens to us all. There’s no getting around it. Whether we consider ourselves good, bad, or somewhere in-between on the deserve-it-scale, there’s no escaping it. Being a “good person” does not excuse us away from being dealt life’s problems or from having bad things happen. There’s no “I’m sorry, that can’t happen to me, I’m a good person” card that blocks us from the hard stuff.

There’s no rule that bad stuff can only happen to bad people, or that good stuff can only happen to good people. But it’s interesting how our minds want to make things work out that way, and when it doesn’t, it’s labeled unfair.

Even more interesting are how the reactions and results of the exact same scenario can be drastically different depending on how one chooses to respond to the inescapable junk tossed their way. The exact same thing can happen to two different people, yet the outcomes can be completely different…and it’s not based on how “good” or “bad” they are or whether or not they deserve it.  No one is immune. No matter how good the heart or how caring the person, something (or even many somethings) is going to happen to try and take them out. We cannot escape the tough stuff, but we can have a say in how we react when it does and who we turn to, which is very much so linked to the end result. We can choose to keep going, give our hurts to the One who does know, and let it make us stronger.

The only way to build muscle is to challenge it. Strength is not built through inaction. We cannot become stronger if we never have to deal with anything, work through problems, or choose to always take the easy road. And if we’re not getting stronger and we try and avoid challenges we’ll atrophy,  become weaker, and eventually not be able to handle even the simplest issues. When bad things happen to good people, it doesn’t take them out, they get stronger.

2. They help others.

When the heartbreak comes or when the hurt happens, it’s the ones who flip it and somehow figure out a way to benefit someone else that are the victors. There’s nothing better than hearing a story of how someone came back from a knockdown or a failure only to use it to help someone else. It’s that much sweeter when despite the wrong, despite the wound, and despite the hurt, something good and loving soars through the dust and the rubble and positively touches others.

There is no better way to combat the darkness in our lives than by helping someone else while we are hurting. We may  not be able to solve our own problems or heal our own hurts, but there is something we can do to help someone else…and chances are they need it more than we’ll ever know. We may not have the ability to help ourselves or fix our own issues, but we definitely have the ability and capability to reach out to someone else who needs it. It’s in showing kindness in the midst of our pain where the breakthrough, the healing, and the triumph takes place. When the bad stuff happens, they help others and that’s when doors can open up for the really good things to happen.

3. They spread hope.

Despite the pain, despite the injustice, and in spite of how wrong it feels–those that survive and come back from the ashes are people that give hope and are examples of God’s goodness triumphing over evil. We need that. We need to know that no matter how bad it looks or how wrong it feels or how deep the injustice, there is hope that something good can come out of it. We need to know that failure is not final. Hope is free. It does not cost anything to hope…but it can cost us everything if we don’t.

Nope. The question is not why do bad things happen to good people. The real answers we need may not necessarily lie in the why, but perhaps may be found in the what…or Who.

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