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 to be so in my own life; some of my greatest blessings required that a door slam shut or that I endure some suffering. For example, if my college sweetheart had not dumped me, it is likely that I would not now have the very great blessing of being a priest. Had I received 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 drawn me out and helped me to grow far more than the cozy, familiar placements I desired would have. 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 would not have learned important lessons about myself and about life.
So despite that fact that we understandably fear and dislike suffering, 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 often enough the countless times that God does step in to prevent disasters in our lives. We tend to focus on the negative things in life and overlook an enormous number of often-hidden blessings: every beat of our heart, the proper function of every cell in our body, and all the perfect balances that exist in nature and the cosmos in order to sustain us.
Just consider the simple act of walking and all the possible missteps we might make but do not. Think of all the foolish risks we have taken 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 outcomes.
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 enduring the consequences of some awfully foolish things we have done? In typical human fashion, we minimize our many, many blessings, and magnify and resent our sufferings.
I have a favorite expression, one I’ve adopted over the years, that I use in response to people who ask me how I’m doing: “I’m pretty well-blessed for a sinner.” I’ve heard others put the same sentiment this way: “I am more blessed than I deserve.” Yes, we are all well-blessed indeed!
I thought of all that as I watched the commercial below (it aired during the Super Bowl). 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 times He has rescued you, through the interventions of your guardian angel. Thank Him, too, for His hidden blessings—blessings that, though you know nothing of them, are bestowed by Him all the same. And think, finally, of the wonderful mercy He has often shown in protecting you from the worst of your foolishness.