Balancing precariously on crutches as a fractured ankle began to complain, I saw the sign on the wall "There is a reason for everything that happens". I squinted down at the wad of bandages on my foot, felt the bruises which I knew would bloom in a few hours, and really wondered what the reason for this particular incident might be.
I know the sentiment is a form of the 'there is a season for everything' of wise Solomon. An idea that there are some times or seasons which phase in and out of our lives bringing with them some treasure or challenge. A season for falling passionately in love and, apparently, a season for falling down stairs to fracture an ankle. Hmmm. I like the first better, I think.
From my Calvinist, Wesleyan, and Holiness background my immediate assumption was it was something to teach me, correct me, or punish me. Despite the words of Jesus telling his followers the rain falls on the just and the unjust with equal abandon - sometimes we rush in and assume blame when we have no need - and I did that too. Dutifully, however, I prayed, I meditated, and I hurt.
Then I thought I was being too self-centered.
Yes, I had been hurt but perhaps it was not an expectation in my life but a challenge to others which was the focus of this type of season. The poor soul helped by the maligned Samaritan had been bypassed by many people of good faith and ignored. It was not until that hated individual stopped and responded in love and kindness that the core of the story emerges.
Who was the victim? Who knows; all he had to do was lay there and be hurt through no fault of his own as the "rain fell". We love to assume that all misfortune occurs as punishment, as lessons, and as God forcing his will on a life. That O.T. and Puritan influence likes to hasten to agree that problems occur as punishment but those words of Jesus whisper 'taint always so.' That is definitely not the case in this story of the man by the road side. The victim was not the point of the story. He was the not the one challenged. He was not the one who needed to change.
The rainy season of misfortune does fall on all - regardless if they are saint or sinner - but not everyone carries an umbrella of love, compassion, kindness, or service. How many strutted past that guy in the ditch, feeling superior that they were not in that place, suffering in such a way? How many floated past on a bubble of their own inflated sense of grace or their own belief that to ignore reality was the only way to retain their own happy-happy-joy-joy grasp of life?
Sometimes the greatest challenge comes disguised as the easiest of acts: a phone call, a letter, an email, a note. Sometimes the greatest cost is not arranging a room and getting a doctor (like that Samaritan had to do) but to simply widen our vision to see those around us in need and respond.
Sometimes the most expensive gift we can give to another human being is the gift of awareness; a recognition that someone saw they were not in their place, were missed and a recognition that someone knew they existed.
Yes, everything has a season....and reasons.... but just maybe not the ones you thought.
Marilyn A. Hudson