This last week in our youth group, the title of the lesson was, “Why does God let bad things happen?” It gave examples of families going through divorce, loss of a parent or sibling, mom or dad losing their job or people losing their homes do to natural disasters or for financial reasons. Our group talked about two of our students that had been in recent accidents. One student who is very athletic, severely injured his knee and will be having surgery soon to repair it, but unfortunately will not be able to participate in sports the remainder of his senior year. Another student was in a recent car accident, she broke her arm and had to get over 100 stitches in that same arm. We talked about how some troubles or hurts come from our poor choices but many of the trials we go through are not our fault and are totally out of our control.
I gave our youth group the example of our oldest son that was born blind. That was something totally out of our control. We never blamed God, but we certainly questioned Him. More than anything we prayed for our son’s sight to be restored. Our son’s sight was never restored, but we started seeing God’s hand on him at a young age. We never thanked God for his blindness but what we have been so grateful for, is to see our son positively impact and challenge sighted and unsighted people through his blindness.
Marilyn Meberg, is a well-educated former professor, then she was a counselor and went on to travel for 18 years with Women of Faith. A couple years ago I saw an interview where Marilyn told the story about her daughter, Joni. Marilyn’s daughter was born with spina bifida and only lived for 15 days after she was born. When she was asked, how God could have allowed this to happen, this was her response. She said, “God created a perfect world, but since Adam and Eve’s colossal disobedience in the Garden of Eden, we have lived in an imperfect and fallen world”.
I think we all struggle in James where it says, consider it pure joy, when troubles of any kind come your way. When we read on and study what James is saying, we understand that we are not to pretend to be happy when we are hit with trials but that we are to look at trials as a time of learning and growing. By the grace of God our son is not negative about his loss of sight. I had a friend tell me that her daughter that was born deaf, as a young teenager started telling her mom, I am so glad I am deaf and not blind. It was a heartwarming and eye-opening conversation, as I shared with her, our son had told us over the years he was so thankful he was blind and not deaf. We both realized our kids had been given the grace to deal with the disabilities they had been given.
As we approach Thanksgiving this week. We can turn on the news and within minutes have confirmation we live in an imperfect and fallen world. You or your family maybe in a trial right now that is totally out of your control. During my prayer time this week, Romans chapter 8 came to mind, so I grabbed my bible and started reading. When I came to verse 31, I read it over and over: If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Then I went on down to verse 35: Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Verse 37: No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us! When we live with an attitude of thankfulness and gratefulness, we are not conceding that our lives are perfect, we are just choosing to see the beauty around or outside of our difficulties. Prayerfully, I challenge you and me to take at least a moment each day, throughout the year to think and possibly meditate on the things we are thankful and grateful for.
We ended our youth meeting with going around and having each student mention at least one thing they are thankful for. Many of the students mentioned their family. One insightful young man, eleven years old, talked about all the things our lesson had gave example of, that some families are going through. He named, each one… divorce, loss of a family member, loss of a job, loss of their home and so on. He went onto say, not that his family was perfect, but how thankful he was they had never experienced any of those examples. Parents and Grandparents, we need to ask our kids what they are thankful for, not just around Thanksgiving but on any random day. It makes for great conversation! It was interesting to me, not one student mentioned a material thing they were thankful for. Something to keep in mind as we head into this Christmas season.
May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving!