When bad things happen to us or people close to us, the natural question is to ask God, “Why?” Other times the answer is quite clear, we are victims of our own fallen nature.
In the fall of my sophomore year, I made a great friend. We attended a small Bible college on the west coast. We met one afternoon when I was playing the 1812 Overture in my room. When my soon to be friend walked in the door, he asked me if I liked classical music. I answered yes, but admitted I did not know much about it. He was a music major and began telling me about the structure of what I was listening to. That was it. A shared interest led to a close friendship.
Later that fall, I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with his family. On the return trip to campus, he shared a deeply personal secret, he was gay. I was honored that he felt safe sharing with me. I assured him that his secret was safe with me. It was not a big deal to me our friendship continued.
But I betrayed that trust when in the spring of that year, I let the secret slip to a mutual friend, who I assumed knew. He did not. And very quickly a malstom of unintended consequences was unleashed.
Our mutual friend went to the administration. This was 1986 in a small very conservative Bible college. They did not mess around. They expelled my friend. He was outed to his family and to his home church. I never saw him again, but I did get one final phone call telling me in no uncertain terms that he hated me and that I was the worst person on earth.
He paid a steep price for my betrayal. He was ostracized from his family and from his faith community. To his other friends on campus, I became a pariah. I was crushed under a weight of guilt that still hurts to this day. While I have assurance that Christ has forgiven me. I will never forgive myself.
I never read the story of Cain and Abel the same way again. I had a brother. I betrayed him. And while my friend did not die, there is a social and familial equivalence.
So my “Why,” is why did I open my big fat mouth. Sin is no joke. Sometimes when we sin, we bear most if not all of the consequences. But sometimes, our actions reverberate and spawn pain and suffering. While God forgives. And God sustains. God does not prevent the fallout. Grace suchers our wounds, but the scars we carry with us.