I believe in God, in part, because bad things happen to good people.

Yes, you read my words right.

I know. So often, people argue the opposite opinion. They cite suffering and injustice as reasons not to believe. How can a loving God let innocent people get hurt, right?

I get their point. But I disagree. I refuse to let things I cannot understand detour my faith.

I do not know why horrible events take place, why women are raped and children die of cancer. I do not know why natural disasters wipe out cities or gunmen attack innocent civilians. So I choose to believe in a higher power. I choose to believe God knows. God understands. And that ultimately, whatever it may seem now, God wins. Good wins. Love wins.

Yes, faith is a choice. In good times, the choice comes more easily. The real test comes when life gets ugly. When your doubt says give up and give in, you know, just follow the mass movement of despair. That’s when I dig in deep. I turn to God and I say, “I’m not letting go. So don’t let me go.”

My faith has carried me through tough moments, days and years. I manage my anxiety disorder with medication (because yes, I also understand biochemistry) and prayer. SO MUCH PRAYER. When life deals me an, “I just can’t,” I chose to believe God can.

A few years ago, I attended a performance of the Watoto Children’s Choir, a group of African children orphaned by war and violence. The joy in their voices as they sang Chris Tomlin’s, “And if our God is for us, then who can ever stop us?” brought me to tears. These children saw their parents murdered. They were taken from their families and used as soldiers before puberty. Yet, they chose to believe. Sitting, listening to their stories, I witnessed the power of hope.

Choosing to believe doesn’t mean I accept the evil in the world. It also doesn’t mean I think God is responsible for it. I choose to believe God stands for, not against us. I choose to believe God can and will heal the broken. I choose to believe His wisdom transcends my own.

Religion is flawed. People much more so. I choose to believe God knows better than both.

The world pushes us to abandon faith and hope. To adopt a “here for the now” and “do what suits us” attitude. It uses fear and judgment to divide our spirits. No matter how I try, I cannot understand the ugliness in people, even the ugliness in myself. I cannot wrap my brain around the master plan.

I believe in God because it’s His plan. He knows why bad things happen to good people. And, I believe, He doesn’t like it either. 

Sarah Whitman

Sarah Whitman is a writer and mother living in Tampa, Fl. As the religion columnist for the Tampa Bay Times, she covers a broad range of faith and spiritual-related topics. She also contributes parenting columns. She recently started a poetry page on Facebook and welcomes mothers to submit their writings to the site. Visit Mama Dickinson at www.facebook.com/mamadickinson. Visit 1mamadickinson on Instagram.