Job loss, financial crisis, rebellious children, disappointments, rejection, unexpected illness - the list of what we call "bad" goes on. Is bad ever good? Can anything good come from a bad situation? That depends.
Some negative circumstances we readily recognize as good. You're involved in a car accident - minor injuries - but x-rays reveal a small tumor. Surgery can remove it and literally save your life. It's in the early stages. You wouldn't have known about the problem apart from the accident. Was the accident good? No. But good came from it.
Many life-changing events don't spell g-o-o-d, however. Some may want to throw stones if we even suggest it. But consider these possibilities. What good can result from these bad situations?
- Freedom to choose a new vocation.
- Chance to pursue a long-time dream. Some successful a have risen from such bad circumstances. Fired from another home improvement chain, Arthur Blank and Bernard Marcus founded the successful Home Depot.
- Dependence on God and His provision as Jehovah Jireh, the God Who Provides. (Philippians 4:19). May allow others a blessing by using their gifts to minister on your behalf.
- Re-evaluation of your life: "Why am I still here?"
- Complete change of direction. A car accident that almost totaled my husband's car (when we were still dating as youth) turned his heart toward full-time Christian ministry. He never wavered from that decision at the age of 18.
- Even serious injuries can purify our hearts if we let God do His work.
- Reveals dormant (or prominent) marital issues that still need work. My husband and I often tell couples that conflict can be positive, not always negative. It can simply mean there's more growth potential in your marriage - lots of God's grace still to experience. One of grace's definitions to me is room to grow. God gives us much room to grow.
- Empathy for others. You can add this to almost any situation you experience. Successfully working through (and even sometimes failing at) marital troubles can open up areas of tenderness and ministry to others in similar situations. Because of a difficult marriage season in our own lives, my husband and I pursued training as marriage enrichment leaders years ago. God has so blessed as we've tried to help other couples and led marriage weekend retreats.
- Greater dependence on God and prayer.
- Deeper marital intimacy after you "hit the wall" and move past it. Runners often experience this halfway point where they must push past in order to succeed and even finish the race. With bodies screaming, and mind racing along with legs pumping, they may feel resistance with every move. But pushing past that "invisible wall" they move past the point of no return to success. It's a principle you can apply to almost any bad situation if you want to move forward and realize the good.
- New dependence on God and prayer support from others. God often forges friendships and support networks through mutual experiences.
- Opportunity to believe and see God work in seemingly impossible situations. Billy Graham's son, Franklin Graham - who later called himself "Rebel With a Cause" in his autobiography - brought grief to his parents as a prodigal son. But God brought Franklin back, and he is now President of Samaritan's Purse, an organization that has literally reached around the world for Christ.
- Revealing of deeper issues in relationships that can ultimately bring you closer to God and your children.
Loss of Loved One
- Deepened heart hunger for God and a new dependence on Him. Often results in a new longing for your real home in heaven.
- Reevaluation of what is truly important in life (simplifying of priorities).
- Influence in making new laws/groups to help prevent tragedies that could have been avoided. (ex. MADD- Mothers Against Drunk Driving)
- Testimony to the unsaved. At one young man's funeral, a relative challenged the friends of the deceased to choose Jesus. Eleven did.
- Opportunity to bring comfort and healing to others who have experienced grief as well. God used the testimony of my friend Susan who lost her teenage son and opened up a world of writing, speaking, and grief ministry.
Other Apparent Tragedies or Disappointments
New, total dependency on God (as with all the situations above).
Enlarged opportunities to show God's amazing grace and power through our difficulties. The video on this site about Nick Vjuicic is a great example, or you can see more of his life here. Josh Hamilton, a Texas Rangers baseball player and recovering drug addict, shares his Christian testimony many places. One of those is called I Am Second.
Empathetic heart that can help bring others through their difficulties.
Before you object with "That hasn't happened to me. Nothing good has come from my situation!" remember God's plans for you: "to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV). And the good He desires may differ from your definition. But it will ultimately be good and bring good. In some cases, we won't see - or understand - the good on this side of heaven. But our omniscient God does.
Don't misunderstand me. Few of us immediately pop up smiling from a tragedy or disabling situation with, "Praise the Lord!" Healing takes time, but bad can be good if we will ultimately trust God to "work all things together." It's not time, but God, that will bring the good He has planned all along.
A Matter of Choice… Or More?
It's a matter of choice, right - how we respond to the negative circumstances of our lives? That's the key. Yes and no. It is a response, and it is a matter of choice. But it's more. It's a desire. A deep down desire that longs, that craves, that chooses to trust God while we're in the waiting room with Him - no matter what the outcome.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 NIV
What about you? How has God brought good out of a bad situation or experience in your life?
Look for the follow-up to this article, titled "Five Questions to Ask When You're in God's Waiting Room," coming soon!
Rebecca Barlow Jordan is a bestselling inspirational author and speaker who loves to share God's encouragement with others. Her newest 3-book series, just released by Zondervan, includes Day-votions™ for Women, Day-votions™ for Mothers, and Day-votions™ for Grandmothers. You can purchase these books and others on her website, www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com or sign up for her newest blog/newsletter, where this article first appeared, at www.rebeccabarlowjordan.com/blog. Rebecca's Daily in Your Presence devotionals are also featured among Crosswalk.com's daily devotional offerings.
Publication date: June 25, 2010