Tag Archives: “when bad things happen to good people”


I’ve been thinking about perspective non-stop since yesterday. I’m always intrigued with it, but some videos I saw yesterday, and the movie Noah last week have triggered it anew.

We see what we want to see. We see what we choose to see.

We can all see the same thing and perceive it differently, walk away thinking completely different thoughts.

In fact, the filters we bring to a happening, an idea, even a remark can spark such  disparate cognitions and reactions. How much is programming and how much is choice? It is almost frightening. And yet it has a good side to it too. One choice can make all the difference.

Yesterday I was talking with a client who was so discouraged about her powerlessness over an addiction, and over her inability to make choices that she wanted to die. Not feeling you can choose for yourself, not feeling you have any power is a very scary place to be.

And yet as Jesus’ follower I believe that is why God came here, lived as a human and died as a criminal, so he could give us back the power to make choices. No, He doesn’t make us choose Him. He is very respectful. But he knows how long we can last without Him, and the hostile environment we were born into, on this planet, because of someone else’s will.

Twenty-five years of listening to other people’s problems is enough to know that we don’t always create our own issues or messes. We come with a predisposition to making bad choices, or thinking we can’t choose.

This is the time of year that we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. If you reduce his death to its lowest terms, it was to give us back choice. So we could choose him and life.

Another positive I discovered a few years ago in a very familiar passage of scripture is also a matter of perspective. And I like mine so much I want to share it. The passage has always been translated, “If you love me keep my commandments.” There is precedent both in the Greek syntax and in other passages for translating it that way.

But when we were in Chile on a mission, I was reading to my husband from an interlinear translation, and I read  John 13 and 14 together. The context grabbed me because Jesus had seemingly called Peter Satan. The emotions were so obvious. They were all blown away. And Jesus tries to comfort them. Suddenly I said, “That doesn’t make any sense for Jesus to say ‘If you love me, keep my commandments,’ when he’s right in the middle of comforting them.”

So I looked at the original beside it, and sure enough, the most simple translation would be, “If you love me my commandments will keep you.”

Wow what a difference! And when you realize the disparity of information bombarding us, you see the need for his commands keeping us–protecting us, defining what works and what doesn’t–because so much that we think works doesn’t, or ends in addiction and despair.

Protect your perspective with praise, gratitude, love, service and boundaries. These are His commands.


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When Bad things Happen…

I think God gets blamed for things He doesn’t do.

Many think if God is sovereign–all powerful–why do we suffer?

Especially if He’s already won?

Why doesn’t He stop things?

In my first job out of college–teaching in the California women’s prison, the number one question I was asked was, “If there’s a loving God why did He allow what happened to me as a child?”

It’s taken 40 years to come up with a good answer, and I call it The Story Behind Our Story.

I made it the last chapter in my book, The Worst Evil–Losing Yourself, and truly, I told it as faithfully as I could through human eyes. The gist of it is that God values love and freedom. He wanted a government based on love and that requires freedom.

Love is a choice, not a feeling. And it requires three things:

1.  beings capable of making choices

2.  real alternatives to choose

3.  that God allow and honor their choices.

It’s important to note here that God started us out with only good–we  were only attracted to good, only responded to good.

Originally we didn’t have this pull to evil or selfishness. Now we respond to good and evil. We’re pulled both ways.

So what happened? If we were only good…why is there evil now?’

First, we have to learn to think much bigger than we have been taught.

We have to understand that if God desired only Love, then He had to allow freedom.

We have to be allowed real choices that are really respected.

Creation was great until He was opposed, but then He had to allow the whole thing to play out.

Because the entire universe needed truth to be evident to all.

I’m sure that God tried over and over to reclaim the dissident–show him where he was headed, what would happen if he insisted doing his own thing.

But once evil is embraced, it takes hold –like cancer–it destroys good.

The war was on.

Now the question arose: who is responsible?

If God had completely separated from the opposition, they would have died.

But the whole watching universe would have wondered who caused their demise?

Enter, the developmental model.

The plan to give creatures procreation was a great stage for the truth to become obvious. It’s my belief that it was already a design in God’s mind, as another means of showing love. But now, though extremely risky, it was also the most powerful demonstration of good and evil choices.

If we embrace love we hand it down to  our offspring–even with broken natures.

If we embrace evil we hand it down to our offspring with its resulting death.

Again, we were started out good–with freedom.

Choices become the building blocks of our identity (also known as character).

Twenty-plus years as a Family Systems Therapist proved to me that generations usually repeat their dysfunctions. Sometimes getting better, sometimes getting worse.

Perception is a choice. There are always two ways, at least, to see things. But evil is resident here.

I like things simple. So I believe the Genesis story. And how exciting that science is catching up to endorsing it!

If evil moved in with Eve’s choice, then the Garden went from 99% good and 1% evil to 50% good and 50% evil.

God put a boundary on evil inside of us. He gave us a hatred for it. (Genesis 3:15) So I believe that it has to keep balanced unless we choose or agree with one or the other.

God doesn’t want us to be afraid. He will keep safe what is His. But He won’t force you to be his friend.  Neither will He force you to heal your brokenness.

The good news is God is always looking for ways to get through to you, to show you His Love. He doesn’t give up until you can’t hear or see Him anymore, until you truly are “done” with Him. And He is the only one who really knows when that is.

If you need a bigger, better picture of God, and suffering, come to my blog for five minutes a day. In a year you will have the most compact and comprehensive picture of God available. http://Godhelps.net/God-in-a-Box

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