It wasn’t the kind of question I expected from my seven-year-old son. It’s one of those questions that doesn’t have an easy answer. It’s the reason why I take time every morning to ask God to give me wisdom.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
My son saw that question written in a book. The look on his face as he asked the question told me that this wasn’t one of those questions kids ask before bedtime just to kill time so that they can tell their friends at school that they got to stay up late last night. This was a legitimate concern for him.
I could have answered his question in a lot of ways.
I could have pretended that bad things don’t really happen to good people and told him that only drug dealers get murdered. The problem with this is that it’s wrong. His own limited experience tells him that it’s wrong. Worst of all, it leaves us with a very small view of God.
I could have told him that there are no good people. That we all deserve bad things. And I would have been right. Absolutely right. But, with this being right before bed and all, I thought that kind of a response would have been a bit much for my seven-year-old.
“Dad, why do bad things happen to good people?”
“There are no good people. You deserve hell! Now go to bed.”
I scrambled for the best response. While he waited, he pulled his knees under his chin. I noticed the large scrape on his left knee that he got when he fell down while running last week.
I told him about how much tougher he’s getting. How when he was younger he would cry when we put medicine on a cut like that. Things are different now. When we treated this cut, he took it like a man. Sometimes God sends tough things our way to make us stronger by relying on him more.
There are other times when God uses difficulties to remind us of how loved we are. My son’s skinned knee was a painful reminder that he belongs to a family that loves him. He has a mom and dad who care enough for him to give him medicine and bandages. He has a brother who holds his hand while those wounds get treated. Sometimes bad things are the best reminders of the loving people around you and the God who loves you.
Tears formed in my son’s eyes.
I worried if maybe I said something wrong. Maybe this was too much for him right before bed at the end of a long day.
It was then that he told me that his tears weren’t the kind you have when you are sad. He told me that these were happy tears. The kind of tears you have when you start to see that God is in total control and loves you very much. The tears that come with the realization that, although this world is a scary place, God keeps his people secure.
We all have our share of scrapes and bruises. Some are worse than others. Some go away while some hang around for the rest of our lives. And no one’s eyes are dry. We are all too familiar with the tears that come from pain.
But Jesus helps us to have joy anyway. Only he can turn our sad tears into tears of joy while we wait for him to wipe away all of the pain in the world.
I don’t know the specifics of why bad things happen to us. Most of the time, none of us do. But I’m glad that God made my son cry. Last week’s tears of pain eventually turned to this week’s tears of joy. They both worked together to help my son to see that, through the difficulties and struggles of life, God is working for the good of his people.
Some things are seen most clearly through the blur of teary eyes.