Bad Things Don’t Happen to Us — They Happen for Us

Jesus did not promise comfort in this life. He promised trials and persecutions, and he gave us an example of how to endure, embrace and transform them.

Anton Raphael Mengs, “Christ Carries the Cross,” 1769
Anton Raphael Mengs, “Christ Carries the Cross,” 1769 (photo: Public Domain)

When my second-youngest daughter sees a bee in a book or on a dandelion or clover (and our yard is mostly dandelion and clover), she calls it a “daddy bee.”

Now, anyone who knows about bee biology will know that, if it is a honey bee, it couldn’t be a daddy bee. To begin with, all the forager bees are female worker bees. The male bees, also called drones, just hang around the hive eating the food and waiting for a chance to mate. When a drone does mate, he dies immediately afterward. So, it is not possible for my daughter to see any daddy bees.

She doesn’t understand any of that, though. All she knows is that we have told her, when we see honey bees on our flowers, that those are daddy’s bees. I am a beekeeper. In her early stage of language learning, she leaves off the possessive s, and she calls them “daddy bees.” It is her sweet, personalized way of acknowledging that the bees belong to her father.

Before Corrie Ten Boom was arrested by the Nazis for organizing hiding places and escapes for Jews during the Holocaust, she had a couple of visions that she did not understand. Once she was arrested, she recognized some of the events that took place as the visions God had given her.

She later realized that God allowed her to have those visions so that she could know that even those terrible events were part of God’s Providence. Even her arrest, humiliation and suffering were in the Father’s hands. Those events belonged to her Daddy. They were Daddy trials.

The Christian answer to the problem of evil is that God allows suffering and evil so that he can bring out of it a greater good. God cannot directly cause any evil, because that would violate his divine goodness, but he does allow evil and suffering. In most cases, we don’t understand why God is allowing some particular evil in our lives, but we can know that he is allowing it to work for our good. As St. Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him.” 

The persecution of the martyrs only earns them an eternal crown of martyrdom. A tyrant’s abuse of Christians only proves their virtue. Trials and difficulties only provide an opportunity for God’s grace to shine. Daddy persecution. Daddy trials. Daddy suffering.

If a candle is smothered in darkness, the darkness does not put out the candle; the darkness only extinguishes itself and allows the candle’s light to show its quality and power. Daddy darkness.

Jesus did not promise comfort and ease in this life. Quite the opposite. He promised that there would be trials and persecutions, and he gave us an example of how to endure, embrace and transform them.

Jesus prayed that the Father allow the cup of his suffering to pass, but he united his will with the Father’s. Daddy cup. Daddy Crucifixion. Daddy Passion.

When the apostles were beaten and thrown out of a city, they rejoiced that they suffered for the sake of the gospel. Daddy suffering.

We are very much in the habit of attributing all the good things to God, and rightly so. But we should also recognize, as so many saints before us have, that even trials are allowed to come to us from God. Bad things don’t happen to us — they happen for us.

Yes, the bees are Daddy bees, and the trees and sky and animals are all our Daddy’s, too. The blessings that we enjoy are from our heavenly Father, but so are the sufferings and trials and difficulties we face. May God give us the grace to embrace them as Christ did.