“There is no reason for this pain.”
I keyed each word onto a phone note so as not to forget the insane lesson many of us have been taught, that every bad thing we experience can be chalked up to the hand of God which apparently intentionally drops calamity onto our heads for God’s purpose. And we are to embrace it.
Do we all get to be Job???
During the first half of a road trip, my husband turned on a podcast. It was clear, early into the episode, that it would focus on miscarriage. “Are you okay listening to this?” he asked, ready to switch to something else if I said yes. But I was okay with it, knitting in hand. Listening to these sorts of stories is something I often feel I should do. I haven’t fully worked out my rationale and it’s not a heavy guilt kinda situation. I don’t seek them out. When they show up I open the door. Maybe it’s a way to not forget, to remember to be present to those in the thick of it, to reconnect to a type of uncertainty that has matured me.
I chose to listen. Any internal fires that may be lit during the next while would be held safe by every knit stitch of my needles.
The woman featured on this podcast had miscarried, and as a pro-life Baptist, she wrestled with the option to terminate her pregnancies once she found out there was no way the children would live. During her first pregnancy that would end in miscarriage, she just knew there must be some divine rationale for what she was going through and that she must march on in faith, head held high, waiting for that reason to become clear.
I reject that and fully hold to this…that sometimes our pain has no purpose but to remind us that we exist in a messed up world, reaping the consequences of imperfection rooted in an evil not designed by God but permitted to exist for a time. If I must come up with a reason, that’s the only one that fits every bad moment.
“Everything happens for a reason” is an attempt to make sense of life and/or make sense of faith. There’s comfort there. Even if I don’t know the reason, believing one exists helps lesson the weight, helps me feel less out of control. And if I believe in God, believing there’s a reason helps me make sense of God. But instead of that being a reflection of faith, doesn’t that go against it? I think so.
EHFAR is like the onlookers in the Bible story of the man born blind who believed his blindness must have been the result of his parents’ sin. And if we don’t take that posture, then we take the words of Jesus that follow as prescriptive—all the bad things must be so that “the works of God might be displayed in [us]” (John 9:3).
No thank you.
I believe that Jesus is God’s son and our Savior. I believe in walking in Jesus’ footsteps. And I believe in inexplicable consequences. Not all our questions get answered this side of heaven, neither can they be bubble wrapped by a desire for control that we unconsciously call faith.
Can God birth something good out of the bad? Absolutely! I don’t file that under EHFAR. I file that under Romans 8:28 which is filed under love. And God is love. And God is a mystery.