I hit a kangaroo. I truly did not see the kangaroo until it collided with the car. It was travelling at full speed and in a single jump it was plumb in front of the car.
It’s one of those incidents that leaves you asking, “What if I’d been 10 seconds later, or earlier?” I know it’s a silly question, but I found myself thinking back across the morning’s preparations to see if I could identify some clear point where we had delayed our departure, or if we had waited at the T-intersection longer than needed. Would it have made a difference? If we had avoided this kangaroo, would we have met with even greater misfortune? Sometimes we find ourselves saying “It was meant to be.”
Chance can do that to you. We have such a hunger for meaning that we seek to force every event into some kind of cosmic plan. In doing so we turn God into some sort of capricious Greek god. I don’t believe that God causes kangaroos to jump into my path or saves me from misfortunes and disasters that befall others. God doesn’t think, “Oh, Brian needs to be taught a lesson, I’ll sacrifice a kangaroo on his bonnet.” No, the reality is we live in an area that has lots of bushland and kangaroos live in that bushland and come out to the adjacent pastures to graze. From time to time you may hit one. We may choose to draw some lesson from the experience but that is an entirely different matter.
Meaning and purpose can be found in all of life’s experiences, but we create the meaning and purpose. Believing that we are loved absolutely and in all circumstances allows us to have hope. When things go wrong, we are not being punished or taught a lesson. We are living life as millions do. If we build in a flood prone area we may from time to time get flooded. If we farm in a drought prone country there will be periods of drought and crops will fail. If we abuse drugs and alcohol, our life and relationships will suffer.
We can experience many miraculous escapes in life. We can also experience many undeserved misfortunes. Jesus said that God causes rain to fall on both the good and the bad. God’s love is equal and unearned. If disaster should fall upon us then God is with us in the midst of the pain, sorrow and grief.
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection tell us that God walks with us, feels our pain, and that there is recovery and new life beyond any of the misfortunes and disasters that we encounter.
This is the Gospel, and it’s good news.