I hate this phrase. A lot of people have said it to me with good intentions, to be sure. But it’s an easy out. It’s comforting to think that no matter what happens, there’s some big Chutes and Ladders board out there and we have merely fallen down a ladder, only to shoot back up again when we least expect it.
But tell that to the fourteen year-old Yazidi girl who was just kidnapped and sold as a sex slave to an ISIS militant three times her age. Look the man in the eye who died of Ebola outside of a squalid clinic with no open beds writhing in pain and covered in his own vomit. Say it to the Nigerian schoolgirl who was taken by Boko Haram with guns pressing at her side.
As comforting as it is, distilling simple problems like “we lost the offer on our new house” or happenstances like “I ended up going to the park and met this really great guy” as “happening for a reason” is disheartening. Surely God is not puppeting your fate from above while he shrugs his shoulders and looks the other way when someone is struck with real catastrophe.
As Pope Francis recently said, there is no God with a magic wand who arranges everything for us. Rather, we find reason or reason with the bad things. That’s good. That helps us overcome the bad things in which we are lucky enough to find a silver lining, like a cancer diagnosis. I’ve received more love in my short lifetime than most people ever will, and I know it. I’m humbled. But when it comes to my cancerous past and future, I can honestly say I’ve never been inclined to ask, “Why me?”. I think it’s because I consider the question futile and without an answer. There is no reason.
But there are bigger problems in the world, hardships we can’t imagine here. Let’s take responsibility to relieve real problems instead of just attributing them to a higher being or a master plan. If you’re thinking of making a donation this holiday season, below are a few organizations you might consider.
- Doctors Without Borders – They deliver emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from health care.
- Center for the Victims of Torture – Based in St. Paul, this group provides direct care for those who have been tortured, trains partners around the world who can prevent and treat torture, and advocates for human rights and an end to torture.
- St. Baldrick’s Foundation – They work to fill the enormous gap to fund research that impacts childhood cancer. Only 4 percent of the National Cancer Institute’s budget is directed toward childhood cancer research, while the average number of years of life lost to cancer among adults is only 15. For kids it’s 71.
Okay, rant over. That was my first one. You have to allow me one.
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