“What did God teach you through that?” “What have you learned from God while experiencing that?” “What did God reveal to you?” These questions might be familiar to you because most of us have been asked these questions throughout our lives. But they all ask the same the same thing: What was God’s purpose in that event of my life. After pondering this for a while (a couple of seconds), I came to the conclusion that I don’t know. But is that okay? I am left feeling insensitive to God when everyone else seems to have a “holy answer” to all of their past “trials”. But who cares about them, right. This is about me and to a certain extent, you the reader.
About three weeks ago I was playing basketball at my church. It was the first game and I was guarding a college freshmen, the pastor’s kid. As he went up for his shot, I went up to block him. The next moment seemed to have slowed down as I can recall everything. As his shot went through the bucket, I landed on his foot and heard two pops. Immediately my body and pride crumbled to the floor like pudding. While I was cursing ferociously in my head, all I can think about was if I needed surgery; how I was going to get to my internship and job; and if I will ever be able to play basketball again. Soon after someone approached me and said “Maybe God is teaching you something”. I forced a smile when I was really thinking, Maybe you should shut the [expletive] up!
But as always, I felt obligated to give this question another shot. The obvious came to mind. I am overweight and each pound becomes 12 pounds every time I jump. I am also flat footed and neglected to wear Orthopedic soles in my shoes. Then I attempted to think of more “spiritual” reasons. Maybe God is punishing me for constantly missing Sunday School. Perhaps it was because I only attend service and small group consistently due to the obligations of being in basketball ministry. Or was it because I wore a church jersey that day to practice without fully repenting my sins. The conspiracy theories goes on. At one point of my life, I just had to stop and wonder why must we always have a narcissistic view of our relationship with God? Many will point to Romans 8:28 …
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”
and say things happen for our good. A closer look at Romans 8 would reveal suffering and becoming more like Christ. The good in verse 8 is mos likely talking about the becoming more like Jesus and being justified to be fellow heirs in heaven. If it was interpreted as good in my physical life, then good to me would mean the pain I felt in my knee was only a trigger for a growth spurt in which I would grow to 6’6, develop mad basketball skills and dominate in the NBA as the first Chinese American (Jeremy Lin is Taiwanese). But I know this is highly unlikely and the real reason might not benefit me at all. Maybe I had to get surgery so my surgeon can afford to take his family to a luxurious vacation to Europe or buy a small island. Who knows?
Too many times we tag on a glorified purpose to the painful events in our lives. We create ourselves as the heroes in our movies. What I have come to realize is that I am only a minor character in God’s narrative. Although there might be a heroic turn in the future for my injured knee, I am fine if it is not and I am fine with not knowing.