If you read the newspapers or watch the news on TV regularly, you probably carry some of the weight of the world on your shoulders. The headlines continually announce the frequent occurrence of crime and tragedy, both here in the US and around the world. Do bad things really happen so often? Or are the news outlets at fault for focusing on the things that go wrong – in an attempt to hold their audience's attention? After all, if everything was right in the world, there wouldn't be much to report on.
It is true that the news media is often guilty of zeroing in on the negative stuff, and failing to give the time of day to stories that are uplifting but lack the shock factor. But it is also true that there are far more bad things happening in the world than we know about. As it is, the things we hear about on a daily basis are enough to make us wonder what the world is coming to. If we knew about even half of the awful worldwide events that happen every day, it would be too much for us to process. We might easily grow numb to the plight of others, because of our efforts to protect ourselves from drowning in their pain.
It is easy for us to fail to grasp how hard a tragic situation can be, when we are not going through that situation ourselves. But if we find ourselves personally in the middle of hard times, we become very aware of what it's like to suffer. In our new-found awareness, we might reach out to others who are suffering. Unfortunately though, all too often when we go through hardship, we react negatively. We think, “Why me?” or “Life isn't fair!” And sometimes we ask, “Why would God allow this to happen?”
In our grief and pain, we forget that God gave people free will – the ability to make either good or bad choices. God is not a sort of world policeman whose job is to constantly stop people from making bad choices. For instance, if someone chooses to drive even though he is drunk, what do you think might happen? All too often, a series of bad choices leads up to a bad situation. If a drunk driver causes a tragedy, it makes no sense to blame that tragedy on anyone other than the drunk driver himself.
Too often, the One who created so much beauty in this world is blamed at one time or another for allowing terrible things to happen. But we may never know how many times God has spared us or other people from harm during our lifetimes. Sometimes we may catch a glimpse of this protection, but most of the time, we are oblivious to the danger we have been kept from. So we go about our lives, taking everything that is good for granted, and looking for someone to blame when life gets hard.
If we learn to accept the fact that life is not all roses, and if we learn not to complain when we encounter the thorns of life, we will know contentment and happiness. We will not be afraid of the things we cannot control, because we will have control over something very important: our attitude toward life itself. And as we learn to accept the fact that both good and bad things will happen to us during our lives, perhaps we will stop looking for someone to blame when things go wrong. We might even find ourselves looking for someone to thank for all the beauty in our lives.