I do not believe that bad things happen for a higher spiritual reason. There is no good reason for hurricanes. There is no good reason for war. There is no good reason for child abuse. There is no good reason for birth defects. There is no good reason for cancer.
I do believe that bad things happen and then good things happen because of them. Or, put another way, I believe we must separate the goodness of the results from the badness of the event. For instance, the annihilation of millions of Jews in the Holocaust is an unequivocally bad event. Period. And, from it, we have hopeful voices like Elie Wiesel, stirring music like the Quartet for the End of Time, brilliant philosophy from the pen of Michael Polanyi. Does any of that justify the slaughter of innocents? Never. They just co-exist. Shoots of goodness growing from the rot of the earth’s brokenness. Those shoots of goodness are where I find God.
I always struggle with the pithy statements of gratitude during this season – the way we are expected to have healthy, functioning, smiling families gathered around a feast that costs hundreds of dollars as a prerequisite of gratitude. Life is just not like that for most of us.
But I do believe gratitude is essential. And so in this season of gratitude, I will be writing about what I am NOT grateful for and how I find gratitude anyways. Join me in your own hunt for gratitude among the messiness of life.