One of the things I had to learn early in my walk with Jesus is, being a Christian doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen to you. Many persons get angry with God because they have the view that once they are Christians, nothing bad should happen. There are persons who have walked away from the Lord because bad things were happening in their lives. Many persons cannot reconcile the phrase, “God is good” with negative things affecting them.
But let us examine it a bit. Most of the persons in the Bible experienced challenges that many of us could not endure. Yet, they praised God anyway. I have struggled with this for years, because I could not reconcile God being good with “bad” things happening. Somehow, I confused him being good with the actions of others or things happening in my life. Years ago in my teenage years I was almost raped and it left me traumatized. It was not a stranger, it was a trusted family friend. The irony is that I was home alone and my mom was concerned, because she was asked to work overtime and she did not want me to be alone. So she asked him to come over to keep me “safe”. When he came by she felt like a weight was lifted off her because she knew her daughter was safe. Crazy right?? The fact is, he stayed with me many times and never tried anything remotely close to what he tried that dreadful day. So, when he came I was actually happy. I didn’t want to be alone knowing how bad some people were and they may try to hurt me.
Neither my mom nor I could have envisioned what would have happened next. Whilst my mom was breathing a sigh of relief that I was “safe”, I was fighting for my purity. I was so confused in that moment, that even now it seems like a blur. He did not fit the profile of those I was told to be scared of. Afterall, he’s not the “bad stranger” I was told never to speak to. This was someone who was older and someone I trusted. How could this be happening?
Suffice it to say, I was one of the lucky few who was escaped rape in that frightening moment. I fought, I threw things at him, I screamed, I bit his fingers and screamed at the top of my lungs until he ran out of the house. I sat there in a daze, too shocked to move. I shook like a leaf and for about an hour, I could not move. There were so many questions in my 14 year old mind. One of which was, “How could God allow this to happen to me?”
It haunted me for years and affected many relationships. It made me guarded and it is extremely difficult to open up to others. Others have said, “Thank God it didn’t happen” and I would say, “Why did he allow it to almost happen in the first place?” Years later in my twenties, I broke down one day in my room and told God that I couldn’t carry this pain anymore and I felt for the first time a peace I never experienced before. I confronted God about what I considered was “his part” in all of it.
There are a number of things I learnt through this experience.
- The presence of sin in this world will cause bad things to happen.
- God allows some things to happen even when it is bad for various reasons
- There are some things we will never get the answer for.
- My definition of good, is not necessarily God’s definition of good.
Once I grasped this, it was one of the first times Christianity did not appear as a fairytale to me. This experience allowed me to see that God being good doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to us. God being good is who he is. It allowed me to see the good in bad situations. This experience has shaped who I am in a lot of good ways. This experience actually pushed me into teaching(as a profession) and to pursue a masters in Counselling Psychology. Every institution I have taught, there are students who I was sent to minister to specifically who have and are dealing with a similar situation, or have been raped.
The Bible NEVER said bad things wouldn’t happen to us, it has said however that he will never leave us nor forsake us. I know many of us cannot accept that or grasp that “bad” things will happen but we have to understand that man was given free will. And part of that is that there are those who choose to do bad things and unfortunately, it will affect others. It doesn’t mean that God is not good, nor does it mean that he doesn’t care about what happens to us.
Ever heard someone who missed an accident saying, “God is good”? Or someone who should have been on a plane that crashed? Or someone who survived a pandemic that killed millions? God is indeed good. But, what about those who died? Should they say God is not good? This is why our view of God’s goodness cannot be myopic. I cannot be according to our subjective definition of “good”. God is good even when bad things happen because that’s just who he is. His goodness is not transient, it does not change.
Isaiah 43:2 ESV
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.