I keep hearing from co-workers, friends, and neighbors that bad things happen in threes. For example, here in Dallas, you could easily count the following three as bad:
Dallas Mavericks get swept in the opening round of the playoffs. Except this was not really a big surprise, I guess. Anybody who had seen this Mavericks team play this season figured that they wouldn’t make it very far without some lucky breaks. The lucky breaks did not come.
The new Museum Tower is destroying the beautiful works of art at the Nasher Sculpture Center. This is really bad to be honest. This is a product of poor planning and investment. The Arts District in Dallas is an area of real growth and energy for Dallas. Why crush it with a super sun multiplying, heat ray tower of doom?
GCB got cancelled. Okay, maybe this isn’t bad either. I didn’t watch GCB, but television without a series based on events in or around Dallas isn’t really tv. Oh wait, I almost forgot about the Dallas remake coming. Crisis averted.
I am not being completely serious, although #2 above is something that should be swiftly dealt with, even if it means closing down construction. The truth is… there are always bad things happening in our fair city. Whether it is the realization that we put too many Dallas teens in adult jails, attempted kidnappings on a highway, some sort of alleged high school sex club in Prosper, or an ex-priest who hired someone to kill a young man who he may have once sexually abused, you don’t have to dig to deep to discover all the unfortunate, disappointing things happening in our city.
I’m not trying to bring a downer to your day, but I am trying to poke a hole in the myth that bad things happening to people is rare or just a short term reality.
Rabbi Kushner wrote a book called – “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People”. One of my church members, Rev. Ron Somers-Clark, pointed out the better title would have been – “Why Do Bad Things Happen to People”.
Point is – it’s part of life to go through periods of struggle, sometimes randomly, often without reason or purpose.
Sometimes, we can find growth and meaning in our bad days. That’s great. Often, bad times do not last forever, though occasionally they last for years.
Our challenge as people who are on a spiritual journey is not to understand such bad things as an aberration, like they are always easily prevented, but to see them as part of the fullness of life. God has given us the capacity to love and be loved. Therefore, when our world is disrupted by unloving, horrific, or uncomfortable events, we recognize that we may lose things we care about. As Mitchell and Anderson put it in All Our Losses, All Our Griefs, “to be a follower of Christ is to love life and to value people and things that God has given to us in such a way that losing them brings sadness.”
What we do with our grief and pain from the losses that we experience makes all the difference. Often, we need to find a comforting community to heal. Other times, we feel called to step out in prophetic action, working for justice for those who have been wronged. We may use our voice to call for change or advocate for those who have been left behind. These are all responses which help us accept the unfortunate dips, bumps, and pits of living but move us into action to join with God’s plan for renewal and reconciliation of our world.
What do you think? Does your understanding of life and of God include room for these bad things that can happen, sometimes without meaning? How do you accept them and yet move forward in some way? I’d love to see your response below.