Just like most of you, at a very difficult time for my family, one of the most pressing questions in my heart was, "Why us?" Why were bad things happening to us? After all, I was a good person and my children certainly didn't deserve it.
When bad things happen to us, we often wonder, "Why us?" What have we done to deserve this? We may have done our best to follow Christ's teachings, always been kind or good and still, we are suffering.
Bad things do happen to good people
When it comes to suffering, it seems there is no such thing as a, "Get out of trials free," card. No family is exempt. We will eventually experience our own tragedy, whether it is death, divorce, financial disaster, abuse, illness, natural or man-made disaster. Tragedy becomes tragedy based on our perception and ability to cope.
Even Christ suffered in our name and understands whatever pain you may have experienced, are experiencing or will ever experience. He volunteered to guide you, and walk through life beside your family because he loves you and your children. He does everything he can to balance the scales of justice when we do everything we can to keep his commandments.
Tim Hansel, a mountain climber who suffered lifetime pain, after falling into a crevasse during a climb, said, "Pain was inevitable, but misery was optional." He encouraged others to choose joy.
Lately it seems that natural disasters are escalating, as is the violence perpetrated by man, including war and crime. Children want to know what we all want to know, why do bad things happen to good people. Parents may be hard pressed to answer their children's questions.
Gene Cook, a religious leader, spoke about the reasons for personal and global suffering shortly after the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia which killed 280,000 people. He quoted the bible scriptures in Luke, Chapter 21. We read, "And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring."
Certainly the Tsunami's in Japan and Indonesia qualify as the sea and waves roaring. Do tornadoes and earthquakes call your family closer to God or lead you to question his existence and ask, "Why us?" How will your family respond to tragedy?
Cook shared some of the reasons for suffering including the following
"Suffering is to prove oneself."
When we are abused, or suffer, the Heavens witness our response. Will we retaliate or forgive? Will we rise and lift others with us? Will we sink in selfishness and self-pity or serve as the Savior did?
"Suffering creates a witness against sin."
When Cain slew Abel in the Old Testament, the Lord said in Genesis, Chapter 4, "... What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground."
God's greatest gift to us is the freedom for everyone, good or bad, to choose right or wrong. There cannot be joy without pain, or abuse without a victim.
"Suffering teaches obedience."
Just as we allow our children to suffer natural and logical consequences, the Lord allows us to suffer consequences for our actions. If the stove is hot and you touch it, you will get burned.
"Suffering teaches patience and faith."
The book of Psalms, Chapter 37 reminds us to, "Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass." Prayers are answered in the Lords time and way.
"Suffering assists one to repent and be forgiven."
Cook said, "Isn't it wonderful that the Lord's motive in allowing suffering truly is love, and He will even prepare a way for our deliverance? Truly He has loved us during these serious trials, in spite of what some may think.
...the Lord will use tragedy and sorrow to help humble His people and thereby cause them to repent and be saved. Listen carefully to this: _He loves you more than your being perfectly happy day by day, and thus He will do what is required to purify you so you can return to Him."_
"Suffering can occur from the Lord hedging up your way."
When we do good things and are headed in the right directions we experience blessings. When we do not, or the Lord wishes to steer us in a different direction, he may hedge up our way to direct us.
"Suffering brings forth righteousness."
My mother loves to remind me that as it says in Hebrews chapter 12, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth... ." There are days when I feel far too loved.
"The Lord sews a spiritual tapestry into all our lives."
Cook said, "How little does man understand the purposes of God! How true these words: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. [Isaiah 55:8]"
"Men can bring suffering upon themselves
." For every choice there is a consequence. We have been given a set of commandments, with prayer and other means to guide us. If we choose to leave the map home and go off the grid, our family might suffer.
We may never know the reason for our family's suffering. Perhaps we are simply victims of someone's choices, or perhaps we are part of a grand design - the scope and detail of which are beyond our understanding.
Whatever the reason for your family's suffering, remember the Lord loves your children and family more than you can imagine and always has their best interests in mind. Your family's pain may be inevitable, but your misery is optional. You can choose joy and faith. You may now know what his plan is, but know he has one for your family.