August 8, 2012
Looking for good when bad things happen
I admit it: Pollyanna stories shaped my thinking, and Psalms of trust and thanksgiving took it from there. Sounds nice, but this tendency to look for the good in bad situations can be a big, big problem – for me and you and other people too! How? Timing.
Looking instantaneously for good can squelch emotions and cover up unattended injuries before they're drained, cleansed, and treated, so wounds get septic instead of healing well.
Looking for good right away when other people go through hard times can make them feel frustrated and alone with no one to understand their anguish – sort of like Job felt in the company of his “friends.”
If we happen to give advice or write manuscripts meant to help, help, help people during difficult times, the above problems can make our words come across as unrealistic and syrupy or judgmental and holier-than-thou.
Back to that thing called Timing.
Immediately looking for good – first thing – before responding with sympathy, empathy, or some kind of kind acknowledgement seems, well, insensitive. That’s true for ourselves, too, as we face our own problems and concerns. For instance, telling ourselves, “It’s okay,” denies the facts and feelings at hand, making them seem in-valid.
The truth is: It’s not okay! But, thank God, it will be. Won’t it? That depends.
A good thing about bad things is having them remind us to reassess our priorities.
A good thing about bad things is having them to shake us up enough to look and pray for more options to broaden our search, get creative, and expand our views or borders.
A good thing about bad things is the opportunity to remember the goodness of God and how our Perfectly Loving Heavenly Father wants only the best and blessed for us.
Bible verses such as Romans 8:28, the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father, and many Psalms of lament that end in trust and thanksgiving also help us to remember what we believe.
Life can get really hard! Situations and worries can overwhelm. And again and again, we have to ask– and answer for ourselves – the most important question in our lives:
Do I trust in God or not?
Oh, I pray you do! And I pray I do, too, as I look for God to bring good from worries about family, interruptions at work, outcomes on medical tests, and recompense for a direct lightning strike last week that fried all of our electronics then struck our checkbook!
May God encourage us this day, give us the prayers to pray, and help us to see the good that only our Good God can bring.
© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler. Thanks for sharing these blog articles with your church or writing group and letting people know where you found them. For brief articles on a variety of Bible topics, see Blogs by Mary – and pass them on!