Why (at Least) One Bad Thing Happened


 Why Life Isn’t Fair (a series of sorts)

I don’t often get a sense of “why bad things happen.” You know, the “senseless” stuff you didn’t plan on and most likely would not have put in a requisition order for—illness, lost income, the death of a friend. But last fall I got a glimpse of what purpose at least one bad thing may have served.

My car was entering the final curve on a nearby hill when the tail lights on the vehicle in front of me lit up. No big, I was already starting to brake anyway. Except that this guy was braking harder than me. Way harder. So I pressed down with maximum verve and angled my steering wheel toward the median to avoid any inappropriate bumper intimacy. This maneuver should have been enough, but slick yellow median paint is not traction-friendly stuff. My car’s wheels locked and forged ahead. After painting a 40 foot tread portrait, it struck the corner of the now-halted Mercedes Benz.

When we finally stopped, I saw why the Mercedes had braked so hard. The car directly in front of him had collided with a beater from the opposing traffic, that car having suddenly veered onto our side of the road. The cause became clear when a cop pulled the barely needle2conscious driver out of his automobile. “Heroin!” the officer said with disgust. I walked a few steps forward and glanced into the crunched beater. There on the passenger seat was a used hypodermic needle.

Outside of the “coincidence” that I was currently working on a screenplay about a death caused by a heroin-using driver, the incident produced no immediate tingle of Greater Purpose in me. Nor did I sense any upside when my right shoulder and lower back began to complain.

But then, one by one, reasons began to materialize.

First, to my surprise, the addict’s insurance company did not dispute the charges. They offered me twice the value of my car, a 28 year old Porsche that I’d wanted to sell for years but that had needed pricier repairs than it was worth. The settlement money allowed me to acquire an SUV I badly needed for my upcoming film project (yes, the one about the addict).

Second, X-rays revealed an issue I needed to know about (arthritis). I’m now pursuing a course of injections and therapy for both the accident and that newly aggravated former issue.

Finally, the addict, Christopher, was sent to a drug treatment center which may well have been the turning point of his life. I’ve prayed for him ever since because this was so clearly one of the reasons—maybe the main reason—the incident occurred. Interestingly, the name Christopher means “Christ-bearer.”

Yes, I’m implying that there is Someone behind all this, Someone with a Plan, and not only that bad things have reasons, but that our recognizing and participating in those reasons may be a part of the Plan. Bringing good from evil is God’s M.O. And he calls us to yourpurposejustaheadcomplete the process. Am I imagining a Greater Purpose where there is none? Could be. But every time I taste my wife’s lemon bars I realize, This is why God created lemons.

The Old Testament’s Joseph rose to a position of power that enabled him to save thousands of lives. He then told his brothers, who’d indirectly put him on this path by selling him into slavery, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20) Joseph got it. He was participating in the Plan.

Are we?

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir, Religion/Faith, Story Power and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Why (at Least) One Bad Thing Happened

  1. atimetoshare.me says:

    So true, but often so hard. Even in our attempts to trust completely we often fall short . Even faithful David, having confidence to slay Goliath, took three stones when he only needed one.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Nancy Ruegg says:

      ‘Never thought of that before: “David took three stones when he only needed one.” Yet God honored his faith anyway. Thank you for this encouraging thought!

      Liked by 1 person

      • atimetoshare.me says:

        Thanks for your kind words. I guess it shows us that we all falter even when we think our faith is strong but he reminds us that even faith as tiny as a mustard seed is enough.


  2. nancyehead says:

    Love this! So nicely done, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Roos Ruse says:

    Great examples there, Mitch. If only we can remember this good example before the whine begins :>

    Liked by 2 people

  4. socialbridge says:

    Mitch, your posts always draw me in evrn though we view things so differently but that’s not so bad, is it?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dede says:

    I’m still having trouble seeing anything good coming from my divorce.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I infer from your piece that God is not an impersonal “force” but a spirit of Love who inhabits all that is and who brings us together at times in temporarily puzzling ways. I believe you have correctly solved the puzzle in this case.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Nancy Ruegg says:

    A memorable story, Mitch, reminding us again that God doesn’t make mistakes; he commits no oversight. Sometimes we’re privileged to see the sense of it all; sometimes not. He has his reasons for that, too, no doubt! When the puzzle can’t be solved, I’m so thankful I can trust his heart, his character. He is compassionate, gracious, and abounding in love (Psalm 103:8)!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Laura Jinkins says:

    What a wonderful testimony — it’s really encouraging to hear someone choosing joy in the midst of supposed trials, recognizing that inconveniences and trials are such small pieces of the completed puzzle, if we can just trust God to fit it all together.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. mitchteemley says:

    Reblogged this on Mitch Teemley and commented:

    Two years ago I spoke about the way God uses unexpected and even disastrous events in our lives for ultimate good. I’m in the midst of some tumultuous events at the moment, so it seemed to like a good time to revisit these observations. May you be blessed in the unexpected. ~Mitch


  10. Loretta Schoen says:

    So true. What we cannot see is the bigger picture and I thank God that while we cannot, God does.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gary Fultz says:

    My bent is my “want to see” more good coming out of the bad then the bad things themselves. The good outweighing the bad. This is my “I want to be God and know all” complex at heart. My “trust bar” seems to get raised higher and higher the longer I live life (like out of sight high) if I keep playing that game. So I just decided to “Trust God” and thoroughly enjoy stories like yours where a glimpse of the “why” can be seen and shared…Thanks, keep shining Mitch.


  12. nancyehead says:

    Thanks for this post. My husband and I are convicted about not having prayed for a woman who caused an accident that did not have the positive results you saw. We still feel the sting of our lost vehicle and unsatisfactory settlement. But God uses your good deal and our raw deal to provide for and shape us all. So God bless that woman who turned the wrong way on an interstate. She is more than a bad moment of judgment. Thanks again, Mitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yes, oh yes! Sometimes we don’t see it immediately or, perhaps ever. Yet, as you so wisely note here, He is always working directly to bring forth the good from even the bad events that occur in our lives. Excellent post, Mitch! Praying now that whatever turmoil or difficulty you face will be quickly and joyfully resolved. God bless you and yours big time! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hope things get better soon and you can write about the goodness of God as He led you through this present difficulty and met all of your needs. God is good that way!:0)

    Liked by 1 person

  15. YES!!! I could tell and listen to these “God stories” all day. The story of Joseph is my favorite. Seeing God turn what was intended for evil into something incredibly positive is a real faith builder. Thanks for a great story.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Jennie says:

    Thank you, Mitch. We know, but we need to be reminded with stories.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Mitch.
    Thank you for your post. I have, now, reassurance that my theory on Purpose is strengthened. Our Creator has a hand in everything we do, Even and including breathing. John

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sandi Staton says:

    I believe that things, good and bad, happen for a reason and that God always has a plan and a reason before they happen. That’s my belief, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. smzang says:


    When I read this article, I experienced the same emotions as when I watched Over-the-Rhine.
    I’m with you a hundred percent on “Part of the PLAN” IMO, It would be foolish to dismiss such events as random.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. smzang says:

    I thought you might recognize that. : )

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Pingback: Radical Forgiveness! | Mitch Teemley

  22. numrhood says:

    do you have a 53 year old automobile & quote genesis 25:45

    if not genesis 50:45

    don’t tell me it has genesis 50:22

    where’s genesis 50:25

    stop lying & tell the truth


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