Not Obstacles but Stepping Stones

“…Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years…” (Luke 1:6-7)

I had lunch with a friend last week and as he updated me of what was happening in his life, I couldn’t help but feel for him. It also led me to ask a perennial life question: Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?

My friend and his wife were devoted and faithful Christians. They live righteous and generous lives. They serve. They witness. They give. And yet in the midst of all these, they are also enduring much.

My friend lost his job at the time when he was also diagnosed to have a delicate cardio-related health concern while his wife is battling a possible recurrence of cancer. They have two small children and the threat of having their family resources depleted is a real possibility now because of their present condition.

As I prayed for them today, I was re-assuringly consoled by the reflection I had of today’s gospel.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous people too. Yet God allowed them to suffer much. Despite Zecahariah’s service to Him, God did not will for them to have a child. Elizabeth was barren.

“…Both were righteous in the eyes of God, observing all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren and both were advanced in years…” (Luke 1:6-7)

And as the months turned to years, and the years to decades, and their black hairs to grey, the righteous couple abandoned all their hopes of still bearing a child. Days became shorter and nights longer. Bones became brittle. And voices cracked with age. Then  just as they were about to give up, the angel appeared. A child was promised. A future foretold. And a dream fulfilled. God did the impossible. He gave them a child.

From this story, I felt my faith telling me this: The challenges of good people are not obstacles but stepping stones to greater blessings. 

Sometimes, when good people suffer, we may be tempted to conclude that God may be punishing them for some secret sin that they may have. Possibly, yes. But I am of the firm belief that more often than not, when God allows good people to suffer, he does this because he is leading them towards a path where they can be in a better position to receive His blessings. Hence, the challenges of good people should not be seen as a punishment but as a vehicle to carry them to a much better place.

To my friend and his wife, and to all the readers who may be in a similar situation as them, I tell you today, rejoice in your challenges and be excited. These challenges are conduits of God’s manifold blessings in your life. Behind the night is the light. Behind the pain is the gain. Behind every challenge is a blessing that awaits.

He did it for Zechariah and Elizabeth. He can surely do it for you.

I remain, in Christ,

Bobby Q.

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