How could bad things bring us closer to God?

I made the statement,

“I knew a woman who had children with anencephaly. She got the privilege of holding her babies for the time they lived out of the womb. She also had multiple miscarriages. Yet, she chose to never abort. Though tragic, she said she would never trade any of the experiences, as they helped move her and others closer to God. She was used by God to offer support to other women who have had miscarriages and anencephalic children.”

To which someone, who calls himself an agnostic, replied he did not understand how such a tragedy could bring someone closer to God, that he thought it would cause someone to move further away from God.

Please realize that this is a difficult issue to discuss with anyone, and I fear I shall do it an injustice. This is not an issue that can be fully explained to someone who is without faith. I doubt anyone who does not love God will understand. But I shall make the attempt.

God can make children who are perfect in every way. However, God allows us to make choices and deal with the consequences of those choices. Unfortunately, our choices affect those around us, as well as our offspring and descendants. One such choice was made by the first man.

Adam chose to disobey. This has affected every descendant through eternity. Others have made choices that also have affected others, including their descendants. Although I have no biblical evidence, I think one of the effects is what we consider to be malformed children. But even though we might consider things to be bad, this does not mean they are. So while God CAN form children who are what we consider perfect, He chooses to honor our choices. But since He loves us, He also makes things happen to help us in our times of difficulty.

Parents of children with children that society wants to call malformed, such as those with Down syndrome, might have a difficult time raising their child. However, while it might be difficult, every one I have spoken to, or heard, or read about will also say it has made them appreciate life so much more. Many also say it has brought them closer to God. 

As for how tragic times help us move closer to God, its complicated. He makes it possible to deal with these difficulties by using those who have gone before us in difficult times to help us in our own times of difficulty. During difficult times, we all seek solace. Some of that solace can be gotten from other people, whom God has prepared to help us. But the best solace comes from seeking Gods presence, support, and love. Its amazing how He provides what we need when we need it, although what we need is not necessarily what we think we need. All things work together for the good of those who love God. Sometimes that includes death and suffering.

Just as what we consider to malformed children can be used by God to bring us closer to Him, so too can miscarriages. Miscarriages are either the will of God, or the result of decisions of others (drugs, car accidents, physical attacks, the result of ancestors decisions, etc.). Perhaps there are other reasons as well. In any case, they are at the very least in His perfect plan

We must realize our choices and those of others (including our ancestors, those around us, and those who lived before who are not our direct ancestors) affect us. We can choose to believe that God loves us and respects our choices (and that each choice makes has an effect on ourselves and others), or we can choose to believe God either does not care, is not powerful or loving enough to respect us and our decisions, or does not exist.

But our choices DO have consequences. Our choices DO affect others. God DOES exist. God DOES love us. God DOES respect our choices. And God DOES provide what we need when we need it.

And it is through seeking God in times of difficulty that our faith in God grows stronger. It is through seeking God in times of tragedy that our love for God grows stronger. It is in these times when we can really get in touch with God. It is in these times that we can find comfort in the things He has written for us. It is in the tragic times that we can find comfort in what He has already done for us and others, just as we can find comfort in what He is currently doing for us and others.

Of course, it is much easier to find comfort in God if you already have a relationship with God, with experience in Him providing for you. But even if you do not have such experience, even if you do not have a relationship with God, you can begin to form one during difficult times. God loves you. He wants you to know Him, to trust Him. He is there, waiting for you to turn to Him, to seek Him.

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