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  • Lori

On suffering and sadness

The rain is falling all around

It falls on field and tree

It rains on the umbrellas here

And on the ships at sea.

In all likelihood Robert Louis Stevenson really was just writing about rain in his brief children’s poem. But I think his principle—that rain falls on everyone—could also be applied to suffering. We live in a fallen world, and bad things like cancer happen. Sometimes they “fall” on bad people, and sometimes they “fall” on good people.

I do believe God is sovereign over all the “random” events of life; if He were not, He would not be omnipotent and thus would not be God. “…for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). But within those parameters, there often doesn’t seem to be a reason for a person’s sufferings. Joe’s song “No Good Reason” addresses this.

Some people seem joyful all the time. I admire them. To my thinking, life is just hard. Relationships require work, friendships are fragile. Making a living is hard; so is parenting. Even when things are going well for me (which is most of the time—I have a very nice life), I have to make myself engage in the normal activities of life. And when things are going badly, like when my wonderful son is dying of brain cancer, all I can do is take the next breath and do the next thing. No, I am not depressed; I’ve been there twice and I’m pretty sure I will recognize the symptoms if and when that black cloud comes back. I’ve just always leaned a bit toward melancholy. (Can you tell?)

Joe was a lot like me in this regard; he found life difficult, too. But he pushed himself and got involved anyway. Whether it was music, martial arts, or feeding the hungry, he stayed engaged. He was a humble and reluctant leader—people followed his example and learned from him. I will never understand why his life was cut short.

I take great comfort in Romans 8:28: “For God causes all things to work together for good, to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” The implication to me is that God uses everything, even circumstances we would consider very bad, toward His good purpose, in the lives of those who love Him. When I can’t see the good purpose, all I can do is trust in God’s goodness.

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