A few weeks ago I had a little incident with a basketball, a trip to the ER and a broken bone that reminded me of the reason I became a runner. I was visiting home and my dad wanted to play basketball with my sister and I since we bought him a new hoop for his birthday. Naturally, I was a little reluctant since basketball and I don't have the best record. Back when I was in the seventh grade I broke my wrist during open-gym basketball practice and from then on I've pretty much stayed away from contact sports, especially anything that could cause injury and affect my running. However, that evening I figured I'd be fine if I stood in one place and just took shots at the hoop, but I was wrong. Literally one minute after we started my fiancé took a shot that hit the rim and the ball bounced back right at my face. Me, having the slowest reaction time (I'm a distance runner, not a sprinter) meant I couldn't quite get my hands in the air fast enough, and the ball hit my fingers straight on. My hand was numb, but didn't hurt (being a distance runner, we can take more pain than most athletes ;) It wasn't until I looked down and noticed my finger was completely crooked that I even realized anything was wrong.
Four hours later, waiting in the ER, and I finally got the word that I'd jammed and broken my pinky finger. You'd think having a broken finger reset would hurt pretty bad, but instead of crying or complaining I was actually laughing with the nurse as I told her the story of the only other time I broke a bone, which was also the last time I seriously attempted playing basketball.
Back in middle school, I was devastated when I no longer had a shot at making that basketball team, however, if it weren't for breaking that bone I may not have made the decision to pursue track and field that spring. It was only off my pent up motivation from being forced to sit out basketball season that I decided to give a different sport a try. If that never happened, I probably would have played some really pathetic games of JV basketball and quickly realized I was un-athletic. In that case, I probably would have chosen marching band over cross-country and who knows how different my life could have turned out!
There are other examples, like my sophomore year in high school when I was devastated to learn that my family was moving to Georgia, but of all the places we just so happened to end up moving into the district of the state champion and nationally ranked track and cross country program (and no we didn't plan to move there based on that). Or what about when you meet that special someone who becomes your significant other, or spouse? What if you could look back and see all of the stars that had to align just for you to meet them when and where you did? What if Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother never picked up that yellow umbrella?
This is the question I started pondering the other day, or weeks ago when I started writing this blog. It's obviously a deep subject, one that resulted in me re-writing this blog draft after draft, but the more I thought about it the more I began to realize the quote "everything happens for a reason" can actually be very misleading. This simple and seemingly positive phrase can actually steer people away from the truth about God when thinking that bad things always happen for a reason. The biblical truth is, God is the ultimate source of perfect love. God is love, (1 John 4:8) therefore it is hazardous to say that bad things happening is the will of God.
People then ask, "Why would a good God let bad things happen?"Well, the truth is God didn't bring evil into the world, we did. If you've ever read the book of Genesis you're probably familiar with Adam and Eve. Now, a lot of people hear the word "Genesis" and immediately want to start a debate of creationism vs evolution and science vs religion. I get worried when people get hooked on these debates, not that I'm concerned science might disprove the Bible (which it has yet to do) I'm worried people completely miss the point of the story. If there's one thing science can never prove it is the origin of evil. Genesis, however, does explain the reason why suffering and evil exist. That reason is sin.
For every action, there is a reaction, and unfortunately when Adam and Eve sinned the consequence was pain, suffering and death entered the world. At first, that might seem unfair that we all have to suffer because our ancestors messed up. But then, when you think of the whole history of humanity the truth is we all had the same chance to live a perfect life and we've all also screwed up.
In church this morning, the message was about how our own lives are "fractured" in a sense. Just like my pinky finger that seems forever slightly disfigured and swollen, we all have our own imperfections, including our spiritual ones (sins). We can try to find reasons for them whether it be blaming someone or some circumstance, or we can hold onto the pain and suffering we might face due to other's sins, or we can chose a third option. We can focus on the cross.
The reason Jesus died wasn't because we deserved to be saved. Instead, the reason He sacrificed his own life was because He loves us even with our fractures, even in our brokenness He offers forgiveness to those who love Him. When people ask why bad things happen, they are usually failing to recognize that the greatest event in history already happened roughly 2000 years ago, and the reason it happened was love for you, and me.
When I fractured my finger I was annoyed spending four hours in the ER, but I will admit I was humbled at the thought that spending time in the ER usually entails something much worse. Even then, nothing can compare to the suffering Christ endured for you and me, so even when life gets hard there is that to be grateful for. And finally, one positive thing to take away from a broken pinky is that I'll be sure to drink a cup of tea in proper style since I can't bend it if I tried! But of course, I won't go as far to say this happened for that reason!
And Happy Easter!