Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why Bad things Happen to Good People

Two weeks ago, I watched "I'm in love with a Church Girl", starring Jeff "Ja Rule" Atkins and Adrienne Bailon.

Based on a real life situation, it is the story of former drug dealer Miles Montego, whose past deeds and friends, present travail and an uncertain future all get in the way of his love for Vanessa, who is a born again girl from a staunch Christian family.

A profound moment in the movie above is when Miles, having lost his mother, had his friends arrested, and a freak accident that puts Vanessa in a comma, loudly wonders why all these trials and tribulations are coming his way.
Especially just when he has decided to set things right in his life.

As I write this, one of my best friends is quite unwell. She has been battling both mental and physical ailments for over a decade now, thanks to a most undeserved assault on her person, her innocence and her soul at the delicate age of nine.

I have for long wondered why this had to happen to her, of all people. My affection for her aside, she is such a lovely and pleasant person who in my considered opinion doesn't deserve any of this.

But then again, life is filled with disturbing cases where those who do despicable wrongs seem to get away with it while innocent people get to burden seemingly insurmountable odds and endure untold suffering.
Poetic justice, it seems, only happens in literary works.

But would it be prudent to believe that even the bad that happens in life is for the greater good?
Evil never wins in his books, says Dean Koontz. He invariably provides hope and light in the course of his stories, inasmuch as many of the novels are horror and suspense thrillers. Light does triumph in the end.

The story of Job in the Bible is one enduring example of how bad seemed to overpower good.
And no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves that life is at times cruel

Why not me?

A few years before he passed on, the acclaimed author Chinua Achebe spoke to the BBC's Veronique Edwards. By this time, he was wheelchair bound following a road accident that left him largely paralyzed.

She asked what he felt about that incident, if he was resentful. His was an answer I find very, very inspiring:

When you feel that bad things should not happen to you, do you have someone in mind who does deserve the misfortune and suffering?

Wider shoulders, not a lighter load

While eulogizing Joe Biden's son Beau, US President Barack Obama shared a profound insight about how best to handle the heavy burdens on our shoulders. He said:

Without love, life can be cold and it can be cruel. Sometimes cruelty is deliberate –- the action of bullies or bigots, or the inaction of those indifferent to another’s pain. But often, cruelty is simply born of life, a matter of fate or God’s will, beyond our mortal powers to comprehend. To suffer such faceless, seemingly random cruelty can harden the softest hearts, or shrink the sturdiest. It can make one mean, or bitter, or full of self-pity. Or, to paraphrase an old proverb, it can make you beg for a lighter burden.

But if you’re strong enough, it can also make you ask God for broader shoulders; shoulders broad enough to bear not only your own burdens, but the burdens of others; shoulders broad enough to shield those who need shelter the most.

In view of the aforementioned, I am reminded that bad things happen to good people so that we who are in a position of advantage can stand in the gap for them, lend a hand, actually empathize and make their day better or their load lighter.

In other words, so that we can be strong for the weak, share with those who lack and make their fight our fight.

Is there a reason for pain?

In his poem 'On Pain', Khalil Gibran outlines the role of pain in helping us better understand ourselves. Through pain, we can appreciate the times and seasons in our lives when things may either be bad or good.

Here it is:

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

For me, painful moments are a reminder of better days both past and anticipated. It reminds me to always make the most of what I currently have given that others are not as fortunate, and that even I won't always have it all downhill.

For that reason, I cannot afford to not make hay while the sun shines.

In the book of Ecclesiastes, we find a very appropriate way to dealt with times both good and bad.

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.
- Ecclesiastes 7:14.

What do you think?

PS: For you FGN. Your best days are ahead of you. All of this is for a reason. A good one I believe. It sure hurts and it isn't easy. But it is worth it.

* * *

Every single time I think about what it takes to make some things what they are meant to be, I quickly realize that it is the struggle that makes a butterfly strong enough to fly after it emerges from the pupa.
Some things have to be broken for the good within to be revealed. For us too, some of the difficulties in life, even when not deserved, has a reason. HEre's Mary J Blige featuring Jay Sean in 'Each Tear'


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