If hard times don’t change your view of God, then what is the point of hard times?

She keeps expecting that if God gave her this disease, He’ll also give her the grace to handle it, and He doesn’t. She’s angry and feels cheated, while still trying to find a way to make it better and to live her day-to-day life.

She is wrong. That reviewer is wrong. I didn’t get angry at God. I didn’t.

The quote is from a blog that recently gave a review of my book. Reading reviews of my book is like getting an exclusive peek at the rook card I’m holding up to my forehead. A glimpse of how someone else is viewing me. And sometimes I want to run to them, screaming, “No! That’s not me!”

I never got angry. The tears weren’t tears of anger, they were tears of frustration and confusion and hopelessness.

Everyone is trying to understand pain, and how people react to pain. When hard times came, what should have happened?

  • I should have gotten an extra dose of God’s grace
  • I should have gotten angry at God
  • I should have gotten closer to God
  • I should have…….

I don’t know what should have happened, but I didn’t get angry at God, and as far as I can tell I didn’t get any magic grace, or get any closer to God than I would have, had I not gotten sick. That last point is a little hard to figure out. But honestly, I don’t think my sickness changed my relationship with God all that much. I was very very close to Him before I got sick. I was very very close to Him during my sickness. I was very very close to him after the sickness was over. There was always growth in the relationship, but it was a steady thing. The sickness didn’t seem to affect it one way or another.

Why didn’t it?

Should it have?

Everyone seems to think that it should have. Because if hard times don’t change your view of God, then what is the point of hard times?

Honestly, I don’t know. But sometimes, if I dig and dig, trying to find the point, I feel like I miss the point, somehow.

Once I wrote, “sometimes I forget what it’s like to not be sick.”

Well now I forget what it’s like to never have had west nile.

Everything I have done this past year is a result. Redmond and Colorado and Annie and even SMBI. You want to know how it happened that I ended up at SMBI? Really?

Before I got sick I never even considered SMBI. I was going to EBI. But then I went to a sleepover and everyone laughed and laughed. I got out my notebook and wrote, “If you see somebody laughing, that’s not me. Cause nothing is the way it used to be.”

The way I saw it, EBI was a laughing school. SMBI was a sit down and study school. So I began to consider SMBI.

Now I know this is ironic considering the number of times I’ve accidentally laughed out loud in the library this term. So I never really stopped laughing, I just began laughing for different reasons.

I know I’ve changed. Me, Emily Smucker. I’ve changed deep inside. I look at life differently. It sounds like a good thing, but it isn’t always. Sometimes it is.

But what would I be if west nile had never touched me? That’s the part I can’t see anymore. I could at the beginning. I saw everything my life would be were it not for west nile, and I wanted it very badly. But the more west nile wrapped it’s tentacles around my life, the more it just became my life, and I couldn’t exactly tell what would have happened otherwise.

When it comes to pain, everyone has a theory. Some theories make sense to me, some don’t. If you have a good theory on why pain happens, feel free to comment.

But I don’t have a theory yet. I can’t figure it out. I can see good that has come out of my sickness, and I can see bad that has come out of it. I can’t see what would have happened had it never happened.

Sometimes it feels like I’m digging and digging to find the point, and because of that, I’m missing the point.

6 responses to “If hard times don’t change your view of God, then what is the point of hard times?

  1. I think you might find some answers in a book by Harold S. Kushner, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”. I read it about 25 years ago in a Bible study group. It gave me a lot to think about.


  2. Hey, guess what? I don’t have a good answer for you. 🙂 But, there’s two things in your post I can identify with. One is observing and experiencing that things don’t always happen the way that they ‘should’ or are ‘supposed to’, according to ‘popular Christian interpretation’, and the second is sort of similar to your thought about digging so deep to find the point that you miss the point. There are things that I would really like to know and understand and there was a time in my life when I was quite distracted (in retrospect) with trying to ‘figure out things’. But I believe that through that God was gently teaching me what it means to completely trust Him, even with the things I don’t know. So now I seek to walk with an open heart and mind, believing that He can and will give me whatever knowledge and understanding I need to walk in unity with Him.

    I love it that you have been really close to God throughout this whole time, and the amazing and joyous thing is that, no matter whether you ever figure this out, and no matter what other people say that doesn’t ring true with you, there is nothing… absolutely nothing… that can ever separate you from the love of Christ. Press on, my sister, press on, in sickness or in health, in knowing or not knowing, in grasping hold of the life God has for you, whatever that is… press on, into the Heart of the Father, for He is Faithful, and He will show you the Way.

    In our Lord,


  3. you bring out the quote about good people and bad things happening to them. personally i believe the supposition of bad things happening to good people is wrong. Christ, in reply to someone, said “why callest thou me good? there is none good but the father.” basically we are of the basest sort until we turn to Christ and through our life become perfected. we are not perfect though until our souls are in heaven. then we can be called good.


  4. Thanks for your honesty, Emily. I can relate somewhat because I feel that way about my heart condition. Also, I don’t really think anyone’s life goes along like they thought it would. Change is constant. I’m glad you’ve stayed close to the Lord. I’m sure He has used your illness in your own life and to touch others. We may never know all the details, but that doesn’t really matter. I pray every day to be content in my circumstances and God gives peace. It’s easy to dwell on what might have been or what could be, but we are to live in the present. Re the book mentioned by PJ, it was written by a Jew who did not have a personal relationship with the Savior and does not offer the hope we as Christians experience. There’s a similar Christian book, but I can’t remember the title.


  5. This post made me think of one of Steven Curtis Chapman’s songs on the cd Beauty Will Rise.
    Our God is in Control

    This is not how it should be
    This is not how it could be
    This is how it is
    And our God is in control

    This is not how it will be
    When we finally will see
    We’ll see with our own eyes
    He was always in control

    The entire song is really good. I don’t think I’ve ever detected a spirit of bitterness on your blog, and that’s one of the reasons I keep reading it. Frustration, questions, and things like that aren’t the same as being angry. I don’t really know where I was going to go with that, but keep looking to Jesus.


  6. I also love it that you were close to God before, during and after your illness. I’ve discovered (in my half-century of living) that sometimes the hard things are not necessarily all about me and what I learn through it, (altho’ I don’t mean to diminish that) but that others need to see how I deal with it when life throws me a curve I did not see coming. I also know that God has a BIg Picture that we can’t see … you may never know until eternity how your story weaves into His. Don’t stress about all the “shoulds.” =)



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