Felix, a homeless man in Germany, asks DTS student Kahli some tough questions.
His question echoed what I had asked God so many times. And it’s a question that seems to be the heart question of so many others.
“Why do bad things happen to me if I haven’t done anything wrong?”
I met Felix while we were in Germany, on a day when we were reaching out to the homeless. Felix lived under a train bridge with a friend. We brought coffee, and as soon as he knew what we were doing, he asked questions.
“If I’ve done okay in my life, why am I here? Why have all these things happened to me?”
And here’s the thing: I couldn’t answer him. I asked God, I prayed for this man, I wracked my brain for all the answers I’ve been conditioned to give. I came up empty.
I’ve sat through hours of classes, hours of church services, and all my answers seemed insufficient. I couldn’t look his pain in the eye and tell him that it was all okay, that we live in a fallen world, or it’s not God’s fault.
Eventually, he waved us off, saying that he wanted to drink with his friend. I swear there were tears in his eyes as we walked away.
I realized deep in my core that this question matters to the world, too. It isn’t just me. The answer matters to more than just me.
I asked God the question again on our walk through the plaza.
“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
And God didn’t give me a trite answer anymore than I could give Felix one.
I don’t think God does trite answers.
At that moment, I remembered the day in class when I finally became brave enough to ask this question to God himself, in a more personal way. What was I really asking?
“God, where were you when I was hurt?”
We’re human. Not one of us can claim faultlessness. But there are plenty of big hurts that had nothing to do with our own actions.
The teacher that week encouraged us to ask God where he was when we were hurt. And when we ask that question? He is so faithful to answer. God is not absent, He is emmanuel. God with us. God with me. God with Felix.
If I could go back, and have five more minutes with Felix, this is what I would tell him.
I don’t know why these things happened. I don’t know what put you under this bridge. I do know God, and I know he loves you. People make choices, whether it’s to love or cause pain. And God feels that from us every day. Everyday we make choices to love God or hurt Him. But to take away the choice to hurt would be to take away the choice to love. He can’t always stop the hurt from happening. But He has been with you, every single second. He has so much love for you. Ask him where He was, Felix. He’d love to answer.
photo credits: top: Borja Isa bottom: Sascha Kohlmann
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