Story 5: God is trying to teach me a lesson

Enjoy this monthly post by Reverend Patrick Riecke, director, Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services.

“God must be teaching me a lesson…”

We hear this a lot at the hospital.

Or, “I guess God is trying to get my attention.”

Sometimes even, “God must be punishing me for something I did wrong.”

It hurts my heart every time I hear these comments.

The death of a loved one isn’t a lesson any more than a thunderstorm is a lesson. But both do happen, and sometimes their entrance is sudden and unwanted. I do believe that God is teaching us at all times, but when we only see bad things as God’s hand, we’d better examine our view of God.

As a Christian, I believe in a loving, caring God. And even my friends and neighbors who don’t identify as Christians, if they believe in God, have a similar view. We seldom actually believe that God’s nature is vindictive.

If our view is that God cares and loves, is it caring and loving to wreck people’s lives? Do I actually think that God is a little boy with a magnifying glass and we are all the ants he is burning?

Jesus called attention to this harmful way of thinking when he said, “Who of you, if your child asks for bread, would give him a stone? Or if she asks for a fish, would hand her a snake? If even mortal parents know how to give good gifts, how much more does God give good gifts?” (Matthew 9:7-11, paraphrased).

That doesn’t mean that stones and snakes don’t exist, or that a snake won’t bite you and a stone won’t trip you. But it means God doesn’t randomly teach you a lesson by giving you a hard time.

God is not proving you are useless.

God is not pointing out all your flaws.

God’s gifts to you aren’t determined by your behavior today.

But God is teaching you a lesson.

That you are loved, in defiance of your difficult day.

You matter; you’re not meaningless.

Your work has value, even if that value is veiled.

Your life has purpose, even when it feels pointless.

 

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