Last summer I experienced the worst couple of months of my entire life. I experienced depression, anger, a loss of purpose, and loneliness due to a falling out with a best friend. I just wanted so badly to transition into my new season of vet school so I could stop thinking about the painful past. It was ironic because a couple weeks before the drama went down, I was telling my mom that depression was a somewhat selfish emotion, and that serving others was the easy antidote. And of course, God soon after taught me a lesson that depression is very real and legitimate. It’s an emotion we often have no control over and with unidentifiable causes. But more importantly, it’s extremely hard to treat.
It was during that time when I asked myself, “why is God allowing me to feel this way? I’m trying to pursue him and get over this season in my life, but it just hurts too much.” All of these emotions were being dumped on me that I had never felt before. Although I had my mom and dad to comfort and support me, what I really needed was a support network of friends.
Today, a year later, my friend from school tells me that she broke up with her boyfriend of 4+ years and described a similar emotional situation to mine a year ago, except much much worse. Something I can’t even fathom going through.
And it was at this moment that I realized why God put me through what he did last summer. It was so I could be that person to my friend that I longed for last year. I’ve learned that when you get to the point of depression, loneliness, etc. that it doesn’t really matter who it is, you just want some shoulder to cry on. And I wanted to be that shoulder for her.
After realizing this, my next question to God was: why couldn’t I have someone at my side last year, holding my hand through the depression, the loneliness, and the sadness? And that’s when I was reminded that contrary to popular belief, Christ followers don't always have it easier. God will put us through the challenges, obstacles, and rough seasons so that we can be the crutch for our neighbor when they go through the same thing. As Christ followers, we get a huge advantage—we get God on our rough journeys! But for the people around us who don't rely on God, they are often truly alone. So just like God is our crutch through grueling seasons, we need to be the Godly crutch to our brothers and sisters when they face difficult seasons.
That’s probably one of the most common questions not only me, but probably every Christian gets asked: “Why does God let bad things happen? Illness, death, breakups, bankruptcy, rebellious child…?” Well maybe we view them as bad just in the moment they’re happening. Maybe we won’t view them as bad when we look back, seeing how it helped us to grow into the person we needed to be or how it triggered a specific chain of events or how it kept us safe. I do want to reiterate, though, that's God's plan for you, me, or our neighbor never involves sin. For example, he doesn't plan for someone to have to go through an alcohol addiction and subsequent DUI in order for that person to find Christ. In this world, there is sin. Occasionally, the Lord purposefully blinds people from his salvation (2 Cor 4:4, Romans 11:8) for reasons we can't always comprehend. But we always have a choice between choosing sin and choosing faith, otherwise our love from and for God wouldn't be real-- it would be forced, which isn't love. So when we choose sin, destruction follows, in the form of a DUI in this example. Sometimes, we have ourselves to blame for our actions. But other times, of course, there is no one to blame.
I can't explain the events that don't seem to have a cause-- death, illness, hardship, etc. And I think anyone will ever know why those things happen to faultless people. But as believers, we are told that in all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). So when we do encounter awful, unpredicted circumstances, we can have hope knowing that God will use it for something good (Romans 5:5), just as He used my challenging season to help me better support friend in hers.