Why does God allow bad things to happen? In December of 1995 I struggled with that question. I cried many nights, waiting on the Lord to give me an answer that would make sense. But I never got one. Eventually, I accepted the circumstances, but it was not without troubling feelings of anger, deception, and betrayal. I felt deserted and abandoned.
These feelings were not only triggered by the fact that my parents were separating, but by the fact that God almighty did nothing to fix the situation. My mother prayed, she cared for others, she gave herself to God’s purpose, and she served in the local church. I felt like God owed it to her to solve our troubles. But He didn’t.
Things got worse. Dad moved out and abandoned his wife and children. He went on to pursue another lady with children of her own. He became the provider for her children, while his own children were left for his wife to take care of.
Because of Dad’s absence, we five siblings and my mother developed a very close relationship. We looked after each other. We learned to work hard to provide for the needs of our home. Those who were older took on big responsibilities. I, being the second youngest, got my first summer job when I was 15 years old at our local “Walmart” as a cashier. I worked long hours, but I loved the job. The fact that I could contribute to our home was important to me.
Eventually, my Dad came to Christ. I forgave him in my heart way before I had a chance to talk to him. One day in 2010 I was visiting the area where he lives. I heard he was teaching a Bible class, and I decided to surprise him there. By the time I arrived at the church, he was already leading the class. But right there, in front of his congregation, he told them how he hurt us and how I struggled. My dad asked my forgiveness, without knowing that he already had it. Our relationship was reestablished that day.
Fast forward to February 2020. I was teaching a series of lessons to our teens at Red Bay based on the life of Moses. We talked about the things that Moses had control of and the things he didn’t. While teaching one of those lessons, the Holy Spirit led me to talk about the brokenness of my relationship with my father and how God had given me victory over it after many nights of struggle. This led to a beautiful response. Many of the teens opened up about their own struggle with absentee parents or their parents' divorces and the abandonment that literally all who were in the room had experienced.
By the end of that session there was not a dry eye in the room. I was blessed to usher all 13 teens into the arms of Christ. Some teens where coming to Him for the first time. Some others had experienced Christ before, but like in the parable of the sower, the seed of the Gospel had been choked out. That night, relationships were made right with Christ.
At the end of that session I understood what Romans 8:28 is all about: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” I understood that bad things happen as a result of the presence of sin in our world. I understood that some circumstances are the result of bad choices, but I also understood that if I had not experienced the brokenness I had as a teen, I would have never been able to make such a strong connection with a group of teens at Red Bay who needed God.
Praise God for His help in times of struggle. Praise Him for the victory He offers us in difficult times. Praise Him for using our struggles to teach us to love others who may be experiencing a similar situation.