Life is unfair.

No matter how kind we are, how honest we are, how faithful we are, we’re bound to experience suffering at various degrees.

This causes one to ask: Why does bad stuff happen to good people?

Here’s the answer: Bad stuff happens to EVERYONE. There’s really no escaping it. Nobody wants to get sick. Nobody wants to be cheated on. Nobody wants to be lied to. Nobody wants to experience a natural disaster. Nobody wants to lose a loved one to a freak accident. But it still happens.

There are two challenges if we follow this line of thinking:

The first is to accept the beauty of life, suffering included. I am reminded of an interview by CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper with television host Stephen Colbert. In it, Cooper asks Colbert, “You went on to say, ‘What punishments of God are not gifts?’ Do you really believe that?” Colbert, who lost his father and brothers to an airplane crash, answers,”It’s a gift to exist, and with existence comes suffering. I don’t want it to have happened. I want it to not have happened, but if you are grateful for your life—which I think is a positive thing to do—then you have to be grateful for all of it. You can’t pick and choose what you’re grateful for.”

The second is to fight the temptation to compound the misfortune. We can easily make things worse. We escape. We complain. We quit. We blame. We turn to vices. We compromise our values. We become bitter. We become vengeful. Instead of achieving peace and stillness, our lives become a maelstrom of pain, anger, and despair. I am reminded of yet another scene that was recently shown on TV. Amber Guyger, a former Dallas police officer, was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for the murder of Botham Jean whom she shot as he was watching television and eating ice cream in his own apartment on the night of September 6, 2018. After the sentence was handed down, the victim’s younger brother, Brandt, offered Guyger his forgiveness. “I forgive you and I know if you go to God, He will forgive you, too,” Brandt told Guyger. “I’m speaking for myself, not my family, but I love you just like anyone else.” The young man then asked the judge’s permission to hug the woman who caused unspeakable pain to him and his family and the two embraced for a minute. Everyone in the courtroom was in tears.

Life can be unfair, yes, but how we choose to respond to it? There lies the difference.