Because of sin, bad things happen in life. Romans 5:12 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” This earth has sickness, death, pain, sorrow... Sometimes it seems to come out of nowhere, and people ask, “Why God? Why me?” As humans, we only have a limited view of life. It can be hard to see past the present troubles to what lies beyond...what is coming. This week, I realized something important. I already knew it, but I was impressed to share it here. So here it is.
I read a book called Dana’s Valley by Janette Oke. ***spoiler alert*** It might have been the saddest book I have ever read. In it, the main character’s sister, Dana, gets leukemia. For three years, she struggles against the cancer that is tearing apart her life, her “normal” years as a teenager, and her family. Her oldest brother is filled with anger and leaves home, getting into bad company. Her sister, Erin, becomes bitter against God. After all, how could a God who loves them be so cruel? How could He tear their lives apart? How could He ignore all of their prayers?
Throughout the book, Erin grows angrier because of the cancer that is destroying her sister, and eventually she gives up on God. On the other hand, Dana, the one who has cancer, grows stronger and stronger in faith. While she loses her hair and her childhood because she cannot even get off her bed, she uses all of her energy for His glory. In the end, Dana dies. The story is tragic, but beautiful. While some are angry that God gave her such a short life, having cancer really made Dana reach out to those around her. The others who had cancer wrote letters after she died, telling how Dana lit up the cancer treatment center. She shared God’s love with them. She made others smile. She never gave up.
In the end, Erin realized how God really didn’t abandon them. Even in the midst of the cancer treatments, God was leading their family. He gave their mom strength to push on. He gave Dana the courage to reach out to others and leave her life in God’s hands. He did so much for them, small things that might have gone unnoticed. Even though the ending was tragic in humanly terms, it was beautiful because of the underlining truth: God might give us hard times, but He also gives us the courage and the strength to push on. And there is a reason, though hard to see, under the pain, the tears and the sorrow. One day, maybe you will be able to see the true reasons behind your trials.
Another thing that really made me realize this was something that happened just this last week. Our family was in the middle of a zoo, and right after seeing the kangaroos we got a call that a good friend had cut his face very badly with a chainsaw. He had to be flown to a large hospital, which just happened to be 3 miles from the zoo. We almost never visit that city, but on that very day, God arranged for us to be there. Dad was able to visit him and be with their family. And, amazingly, even though his face was a mess, his eyes, nose, teeth and other important parts of his face were spared—missed by very little margins. It amazed the doctors. Coincidence? I think not.
We have a choice. We can be bitter and blame God when bad things happen. Or...we can see instead what God has done for us and thank Him for it. We can remember that He has a plan and a purpose for everything. If you are going through a trial right now, which will you choose? The choice is yours.