“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider. God has made the one as well as the other.” (Eccl. 7:14, NIV version)
I grew up thinking nothing bad could happen to me.
While my parents might have disagreed, I believe I got such a notion from them. We went to church. I knew Jesus loved me, so if He loved me, then nothing bad would happen to me. Right?
My parents loved me, and they didn’t let bad things happen to me. Except for when I was three years old and scared of the dark and thought there was a bear under my bed, and my daddy told me not call for him again. There were no bears or witches or wolves either. (I must have listened to a lot of fairy tales as a preschooler!)
Oh, yeah. There was the day I got lost on my walk home from school because a bully scared me. Where were my parents then? Huh?
Then, there was the time I threw away a bottle of soda because a bee was in it, and they wouldn’t buy me a new soda. That was a bad thing in my six-year-old mind.
Now that I look back, I guess my parents didn’t stop all the “bad” things that happened to me.
Don’t we fall into the same misconceptions about God’s goodness? Bad things happen, and God didn’t stop them. Cancer. Accidents. Crime. War. We ask, “Where is God? Doesn’t He care?” We feel like the man who wrote Psalm 88, a passage that offers no hope for relief from oppression and ill fortune. But give poor Heman (the psalmist) credit. In spite of his feelings of abandonment, he persisted in prayer and waited for God’s rescue.
God is there beside us, whether we sense His Presence or not. He knows we have lessons to learn that will strengthen our spirit and our character. We may not enjoy those lessons, they may even be painful, but later, we will look back and understand why they were good for us.
Back to my quaint little examples.
Exception 1: My dad was not an ogre. I failed to mention above that his reaction occurred after my third call where I begged him to search for the wolf and the witch. He knew I needed to learn to fall asleep by myself after his first reassurance that my room was safe.
Exception 2: When I didn’t arrive home from school on time that day, my mom immediately searched for me. And found me.
Exception 3: Lesson learned. Don’t panic over a bee in your bottle! If you waste a special treat, you’re not guaranteed a replacement.
And as we all know, there were many more exceptions where my parents failed me in my child-mind!
God expects us to learn similar lessons.
Be grateful for His gifts. Don’t waste them. If trouble finds us, He’s right there. He’ll guide us to safety, not always bodily safety, but our souls are secure in His possession. If fears whisper to us that God won’t keep us safe, call out to Him. He will reassure us. Believe Him.
In those times that drag on and on like in Psalm 88, take one step at a time, day in and day out.
When my sister was born with several physical challenges, my parents faced the problems step by step. They raised all four of us to find joy somewhere each day. They trusted God to see them through years of obstacles.
My sister is one of the kindest and most loving people I know, strong in the Spirit. As my brother told me not long ago, “Where would we be without her?” I knew what he meant. The lessons we learned because of the hardships not only strengthened her character but ours as well.
Let Ecclesiastes 3:22 be your takeaway.
“So I saw that there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot. For who can bring him to see what will happen after him?” (NIV)
Go about your days doing the work God called you to do. Find a daily blessing, and make every day one of thanksgiving.
God is good.