Episode 1. A Fact of Life
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Sometimes – bad things happen to good people. It’s a fact of life. What do we do? How can we cope? Join Berni as he takes a look at what happens when bad things happen to good people – from …
Whilst we all want to kick off this new year with a bang, with optimism, with great hope of good things to come, the reality is that sometimes – bad things do happen to good people. It’s simply a fact of life. So when they happen to you, what do you do? How can you cope?
Have you ever noticed how when life is going along just fine, cruising, all of a sudden trouble can hit without warning? It’s like we’re a ship on a calm ocean and then … bam! A storm hits and we think, where did that come from? What did I do to deserve that? This is not in the script! What the heck is going on here?
Bad things happen to good people, so then what? Have you ever noticed how we look at people who seem to be travelling really well and we think they’ve got a good life I wish I had a life like theirs? But we only ever see it from the outside, we don’t see it from the inside, we don’t see it from inside their homes or when they get home and they’re tired. So I’ve been looking at people whom I know and looking at their lives from an angle that we often don’t see.
Let me share a few of them with you. I had dinner recently with a couple in their early 50s they are lovely people. God really blessed them financially they are quite wealthy people, they have a beautiful home, an upmarket car, they own horses on their farm, they are just building a stable because they are into dressage. So they are very well off.
They took us to a lovely log cabin restaurant. The husband came to faith a few years ago and he is now serving in full-time ministry. Just the loveliest people. And I went away from that dinner and I thought you know something, they have got it all. They are really blessed. And the next day someone said to me, “Do you know one of their sons recently committed suicide?” Wow! I had no idea! Isn’t that the case sometimes we just have no idea.
Another couple they’ve been ministers for years and they’re a great family. They are really well-adjusted people, have a lovely home, they live in ‘normalsville’ in a lovely suburb. I stayed with them recently while I was travelling and I discovered the husband has a sickness where he has no saliva and he has no sweat to perspire. He constantly has to take tablets and his mouth is always dry. And you think, “Oh and that’s no big deal.” Live with that for a few months, live with that for the rest of your life.
And his wife, his wife is lovely. She has a sleep disorder. And I discovered that most nights she is up walking around for most of the night and she is lucky to get one or two hours sleep a night. Wow! I thought they had it all.
A couple in our church, you know, these people are the most humble, lovely people that you will ever meet. They’ve spent most of their lives doing stuff for the needy. I mean really practical, grassroots ministry for needy people in our area. Just a few months ago the wife died of cancer in her mid-fifties.
A good dear friend of mine, a wife and a mother and a businesswoman – and not only a businesswoman but she employs other women and mentors them and helps them to grow and develop. They’re really happily married, have lovely kids, a beautiful home. Every reason to enjoy life. A few years ago she went through a severe bout of depression over about a year and what made it worse is she had no idea why that was going on in her life.
And just the other day a woman, a listener to one of our radio programs rang our office she just needed somebody to talk to. Her mother has dementia and she’s looking after her mother and has done for years. Her mother is deteriorating and starting to get violent and obviously with dementia the whole thing gets very difficult to manage.
Can you see a pattern here? These five groups of people I’ve just talked about? If they were Attila the Hun, if they were horrible people you could kind of say well oh well they deserve it. But they are good people. These are good people who are doing good things, living good lives. And on the outside, they look really blessed and they are really blessed. But behind the scenes, some bad things are happening in their lives. They don’t deserve it in our eyes.
So what’s going on here? The reality of life is that bad things happen to good people and when it happens we think it’s just us. But talk to anybody you know, anybody, and say what’s going on in your life and they will give you a list of some good things. I’ve got a new job or a new car or I’m happy with this and I’ve just had a grandchild and life is going really well. You say ok, that’s great. But what about some of the harder things? I don’t know. There’s a kind of emptiness there. Or I’m lonely. Or I’ve just got so many problems at work. Or there’s a health problem. There are so many things going on in everybody’s life. Everybody that you would meet. That you would not expect these things to be going on.
We can have a whole bunch of good things going on in our lives. You know, things on the plus side of the register but one or two bad things can really throw our whole life out of balance. Imagine if your children committed suicide? I mean, doesn’t mean how you’ve been blessed financially, it doesn’t matter how many horses you’ve got, that would be really tough. Really hard to go through.
It is important for us to realise that this happens to everybody because when it happens to us, when we encounter adversity in our lives, we feel so alone. We look at all the other people and they seem to be going along so well. But the reality is that they have things in their life, they have losses and hurts and pains and stresses and difficulties too. This is a basic fact of life. Life is like that.
Jesus said to his twelve disciples: “In this world you will have tribulation.” A 100%, it’s a promise almost. You will have tribulation and the word He uses there for tribulations means to have the life squeezed out of you. It’s like grapes in a wine-press having the juice squeezed out of them. Those stresses and strains happen. But He also says something else. The first time that He spoke publicly He said this. He quoted Isaiah which is a book from the Old Testament, He said:
The spirit of God is upon me, he sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted. To proclaim liberty to the captives, release the prisoners; to proclaim the year of God’s favour, to provide for those who mourn, to give them a garland of flowers instead of ashes; the oil of gladness, instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They’ll be called oaks of righteousness the planting of God to display his glory. They will build up the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations, they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
That almost encapsulates why Jesus came as a man on this earth to be with us. You might say to me, “Berni, why am I going through this, why do I have to suffer? If there is a God what is he up to?” Maybe if I knew you I could give you an explanation, maybe. But more often than not there is just no answer. Suffering is a part of life. Bad things happen to good people.
Look at Jesus the Son of God, healed people, loved lepers but He wasn’t spared, He went to the cross. But I can tell you this from my own experience, anybody who’ll put their trust in Him and seek Him out and draw close, anyone who will take Him at His word will experience His love in the midst of this suffering; will experience healing and comfort and peace and joy and justice in the middle of difficult circumstances right there, right then. Jesus Christ is in that place with you.