Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Being Glad For Bad Events

For a very long time, Christians suffering unexpected and sometimes inexplicable tragedies have fallen back on Romans 8:28 which tells us:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
What would have happened if I had not suffered that kidney stone in June, leading to a careful examination of my heart problem?  My breathlessness and declining energy was not a dramatic change; it was something that was gradual enough that I simply attributed it to old age.  My cardiologist tells me that had this waited a couple more years, the back pressure on my heart from this stenotic aortic valve would have damaged it irreparably.  What would have been the alternative, once the damage was discovered?  A heart transplant?  That would have been far more dramatic, far more suffering -- if there was even an appropriate donor.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. [1 Thess. 5:16-18]
I find myself considering how every event in our lives can be a considered a decision tree:

if I do this, then this happens
else if I do this, then that happens

There are hundreds of decisions that we make every day, some obviously momentous, most apparently trivial.   And yet each decision subtly changes the future in which we will live.  While some of the consequences of those decisions may seem horrible, we have to acknowledge that we do not know what the results of taking a different path through the decision tree might be.

Laura Story has this song about what is a longstanding problem of Christian theology: we pray for God's protection in times of crisis, but sometimes we fail to recognize that what we think is a tragedy is a release, or a lesson we are learning?


  1. Ah... the power of the lowly kidney stone.

    Over 6 years ago, I woke with a stabbing pain in back. I couldn't even walk, I had to crawl. I managed to get an ambulance routed to my location and off to the hospital we went. Everyone seemed confident that it was a kidney stone. After getting hooked up to an IV and given some mondo pain killers, I sent to CT to confirm the diagnosis. Over two hours later, they finally came into my ER cubicle and told me that, yes, I had a stone. but they also saw a mass. They wanted to admit me.

    After about a month and a half of biopsies and scans, it was determined that I had neuroenocrine cancer, a type of pancreatic cancer (the same one that Steve Jobs had).

  2. James 1:2-4 My brothers count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the proving of your faith works patience. But let patience have its perfective work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.