Steve Wright, M.A.
I recently finished reading a set of fiction stories. The main plot circled around conflict between the hero and villain. The hero overcame incredible odds that resulted in victory over the villain. I love stories like this that emphasize the triumph of right over wrong.
We all have our own stories. We can recount the many things that have happened in our lives, some of them wonderful, some of them sad, and some of them tragic. When those events take place, especially those that are sad or tragic, people often are left with pain and hurt. For those who experience that pain and hurt, a question often emerges, the answer to which can set off a long period of suffering. The question is, “Why did this bad thing happen to me?”
For many, the answer is based in the truth that bad things happen to everyone at some point in life. The person who hurt me was acting selfishly, that natural disaster randomly impacted my life, those events occurred because I made a wrong choice. Those are all reality based interpretations of events in life. However, some see painful events as evidence that “I don’t matter,” or “I am worth less than another,” or “I must be bad.”
When that narrative takes hold of a person and their opinion of himself/herself is based on all the bad things that happen to him/her, life can become very miserable, indeed. The “logic” goes: “If I had value as a human being, then all of these bad things would not have happened to me.”
The basis of this thinking is in the false assumption that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. The reality of life is far different. Jesus assures us that God “Sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
There are two portions of the Bible that come to mind in this discussion. First is the book of Job, which, if you read it through, you will discover that the very purpose of the book is to debunk the idea that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. The second is the end of Hebrews chapter 11 that talks about those who had faith and never saw the promises fulfilled. They lived by faith and died without experiencing the blessings.
Living under the cloud of a lie, that you have little value because bad things happened to you, is the greatest tragedy, in my opinion. It is time to rewrite the meaning of your narrative and realize that you do have value. I think of what David wrote in Psalm 13:
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
There was a lot of difficulty in David’s life when he wrote this. He didn’t come to the conclusion, however that God did not love him. He kept trusting in God’s love for him, chose to express gratitude and chose to sing instead of something else. Let’s live through suffering and let God use it to build us up instead of allowing it to tear us down.
Steve Wright, M.A.,is a therapist at Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center located in the Chicago area. He served for more than 25 years as a minister working in churches with youth, families, and as a senior pastor. As a counselor, he worked in residential treatment as a therapist, supervisor, coordinator, and program director first in the substance abuse field and then in the eating disorder discipline. Steve holds a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching from Olivet University and a Master of Arts in Community Counseling from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago.