There is a question that has probably been asked in every language, every day of every year. Why do bad things happen? I could give you the simplistic answer – sin. Okay, so that’s correct, but why? An age old question, and I can’t answer it. Sorry, that’s right, but the why will have to remain unresolved for now.
But, I came across Psalm 169 and it hit me that though some of these why’s will be wait till heaven to answer questions, it does speak to an answer. Let me first say that the psalmist was someone who loved God’s law and understood how it was not a punishment but a protection. So, with that in mind...
“Do good to your servant according to your word, O Lord. Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in your commands. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees. Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart. Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law. It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”
These are verses 65-72 in Psalm 119. It struck me that the author was thanking God for affliction. “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” “It is good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” Maybe this is part of the not so simple answer. When things are good and uncomplicated, it is easy to simply forget to put the effort into learning about and paying attention to our relationship with Him.
I’ll be honest, I don’t often think of affliction in the form of any type of suffering, burdens, hardships, pains, troubles, misery, or misfortunes as a good thing. I may even be the person in the minute who is asking why. Except normally it’s a capital Why because it’s a loud conversation between God and I. But, what a perception shift from the norm! Affliction is not meant to hurt me but to train, teach, and help. Like a sheepdog guiding the wayward sheep back, the sheep doesn’t appreciate the steering, but how happy it is to see the fellow herd members and be home. So, maybe that’s a partial and short answer to the why.