Most of us struggle with the fact that God allows bad things to happen to us. Why does he not intervene more often to protect us from attacks of various sorts, and from events that cause sadness, setbacks, or suffering?
While mysterious, the clearest answer is that God allows suffering in order that some greater blessing may occur. To some degree I have found this so, since some of my greatest blessings required that a door slam shut, or that some suffering be endured. And so if my college sweetheart had not dumped me, it is likely that I would not be priest today, which is a very great blessing. Had I gotten some of my preferred assignments in my early years as a priest, I would not have been enriched by the assignments I did have. Those assignments have helped draw me out and grow me far more than the cozy, familiar places I desired. Had I not entered into the crucible of depression and anxiety in my 30s, I would not have learned to trust God as much as I do, and I would not have learned important lessons about myself and about life.
So despite that fact that we understandably fear suffering and dislike it, for reasons of His own (reasons He knows best), God does allow some degree of it in our lives.
Yet I wonder if we really consider the countless times God did step in to prevent any number of disasters in our life. We tend to focus on the negative things in life and overlook an enormous number of often-hidden blessings: every beat of our heart, every proper function of every cell in our body, all the perfect balances that exist in nature and the cosmos in order to sustain us.
Just think of the simple act of walking and all the possible missteps we might have taken but did not. Think of all the stupid risks we took in our life, especially when we were young, that did not end in disaster. Think of all the poor choices we made and yet escaped the worst possible consequences.
Yes we wonder why we and others suffer and why God allows it. But do we ever wonder why we don’t suffer? Do we ever think about why and how we have escaped some awfully stupid and foolish things we have done? In typical human fashion we minimize our many, many blessings and magnify and resent our sufferings.
One of the expressions I have picked up over the years, and that I use in response to people who ask me how I am doing, is this: “I’m pretty well blessed for a sinner.” I have heard others say, “I am more blessed than I deserve.” Yes, pretty well blessed indeed!
I thought of all that as I watched the commercial below (aired during the Superbowl). And while it speaks of the watchfulness of a father, it also makes me think of my guardian angel, who has surely preserved me from many disasters.
As you watch the commercial, don’t forget to thank God for the many hidden rescues He has executed for you through your guardian angel. Thank Him too for the hidden blessings—blessings you know nothing of—but that He bestowed anyway. And think finally of the wonderful mercy He has often shown in protecting you from the worst of your foolishness.