Why Things Happen

July 1, 2019


That’s the top math award in his hand. And that’s the look of being exasperated at me in his eyes:)

You could look at my son’s life and say he has terrible luck. You could spend lifetimes trying to wrap your mind around why his young life was filled with trauma. You could shake your fist at God for allowing this innocent child to suffer abuse, abandonment, neglect, ridicule, desolation, hunger, disease and shame with no adult in his life to protect him or love him. You could really get stuck. Questioning. Blaming. Doubting.

When Rahul began to develop a faith in God as a young teenager, he reached an impasse when he started to think about why all these terrible things happened to him. He and I would talk about it, and I advised him to search out the answer to that question on his own. I could tell him my conviction about it, but I knew he had to have his own rock solid belief in God’s Providence and Love if he was going to have a genuine faith. I could guide him, but I couldn’t give him the answer. There is an answer, I told him, and you will  find it. But you are going to have to find it for yourself. I can’t give you mine. His Bible teacher, Marc, provided him with lots of food for thought from the scriptures and also introduced him to several adults he knew who had also suffered trauma as children and had made peace with God and found genuine faith. They generously shared their stories with him and Rahul guards their identities and testimonies to this day. He also talked to other kids his age who were wrestling with similar questions and together they would puzzle out what they were thinking and support each other.

Finally, Rahul reached conclusions and convictions about this question and others that didn’t just satisfy him, they gave him life. He is passionate about asking these questions and discussing them and they are the cornerstone of his faith in God. He understands things about life and pain that most seasoned Christians don’t fully grasp. Feel free to ask him about it, he loves discussing these topics.

But while he understands the long range Providence of God more deeply than most, sometimes he loses sight of the short range reason for Why Things Happen.

He was recently accepted to City College (yay!), but for a whole bunch of reasons, he won’t be admitted to their Grove School of Engineering until he completes a math class at the college this summer. It’s a long story and really not that interesting. But it’s one of those things that can feel tedious at best, maddening at worst. Wondering, Why Me? Why did other students get admitted without having to take this course? Why do I have to take it when I have already taken it–and also higher level math courses–in high school and received accolades and awards for my performances in these classes? What did I do to deserve this?

Why Do I Have Such Bad Luck?

This is what Rahul was asking me the other day. I stopped what I was doing and looked him in the eye and told him the following:

I can understand why you are feeling disappointed and discouraged, but you need to stop thinking about your life as though everything that happens to you is either based on your merit or your luck. That. Is. Not. Why. Things. Happen. People may think they do, people may say they do, but they don’t. You have an amazing brain. You know that, your teachers know that, your college will soon know that. You don’t have to feel like a failure because you got put in this class. It was not meant to be a message to you that you are undeserving or that you have to prove anything. You are God’s Man. If you can believe that you will be saved from so much unnecessary pain. The reason things happen is because He needs you to be exactly where He puts you. Take this class, for instance. I don’t know why you’re there, but there is a reason that you can’t see yet. Maybe you will meet your wife there! Or the professor teaching it may become your mentor! Or another student in the class may need a friend who has experienced the things that you have! Or the homeless person riding the subway with you may need the lunch you buy them! Do you see? You have to expand your thinking. There is a reason, you just can’t get stuck feeling punished or discouraged or frustrated because then you’ll miss it. 

He seemed to understand, as much as he can for now. It’s one of those lessons that doesn’t really make sense until you see it played out. But I feel it’s important that he not get stuck.

This morning, as he was leaving for what is essentially his first day of college he asked me to pray for him. He was feeling too nervous and emotional to do it himself. Of course I’ll pray for you, Honey, I said.

And as he walked out the door,

I will pray that you meet your wife in this class!


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8 Responses to “Why Things Happen”

  1. Juliet Pritner said

    I’m so grateful for you in my world. I love your perspective, and Rahul’s. Both perspectives enrich me and mine! To life and all its joys and sorrows. Fondly, Juliet



  2. José Rivera said

    Thanks for sharing Renée. Why? Because God said so, that’s why. Thank you for the reminder sometimes it’s that simple. Good luck on college Rahual.


  3. Stephen Davis said

    I can only say..”Thank You”


  4. Karen Harrod said

    You have a gift for teaching about life and God and how to struggle through a problem. Rahul and you are inspiring to me. I am learning from this. I pray for him to see “the why “. Love you. Karen


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