In my early thirties, I went to visit my grandmother one day after work. During elementary school, she was the grandmother who tried to wash away the faint birthmark behind one of my knees before I could eat the lunch she’d prepared. She was always checking behind my ears.
Usually, she left the price tags on gifts so we’d know much she paid for them; she grew African violets; she loved the colour yellow. She always stopped what she was doing to listen to my stories.
That particular day, I’d had 5 bad experiences before I arrived. Funny thing is, I don’t remember any of them today, but I always remember her advice. When I finished relaying every detail, I looked at her and said, “Why do these things always happen to me?”
My grandmother sat motionless for a few moments. I can still see her sitting there. Then, into the silence, she spoke these words: “It’s so you’ll have a good story to tell, dear.”
Ten life-changing words, only one of them has two syllables. My grandmother knew and understood a simpler time. Her message is ageless. What happens to us always has within it an element of good.
Sometimes that element is clearly good. A child takes her first steps. A young boy hits his first home run. A young woman is accepted into the medical school of her choice. A young man starts his own business. Someone is chosen to be an astronaut. Someone receives the Order of Canada, or the Nobel Peace Prize.
It’s harder to find the good in situations that, on the surface, clearly seem bad: a decline in health; a clearly unpleasant event; an argumentative relationship; a lost job; a broken dream. In our humanity, we may believe that these events have no redeeming value.
Fortunately for us, we have a Creator who keeps His promises. Romans 8:28 says:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
This is comforting to know because we’ve been created by God: we are the called according to His purpose.
So there is a way for us to ensure that all the events in our lives can become a good story to tell; we can believe that God is working all things together for good even though, in the moment, we can’t see how.
In 2020, my sister lost her job due to the restrictions caused by COVID-19. A few months later, she was hired by a better company at a higher rate of pay. During her time off, she believed God would work things together for her good. She looked for the good in what happened, and she found it.
It’s like that age-old question: Is the glass half empty or half full? Our beliefs shape our response to life’s events. Our belief in God’s word defines the glass as half-full. Talk to God about whatever is troubling you. He’s listening.