When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Life is a series of ups and downs. Sometimes we feel on the top of the world and sometimes we feel like not one more thing could possibly go wrong. But then there are also those trials in life that blindside us–experiences or tragedies we thought would never happen to us. 

What do we do when those trials come? How do we respond when life gives us a burden we don’t think we can carry?

This podcast shows you what 4 incredible individuals chose to do when tragedy struck their lives. It demonstrates the immense power we all have to choose to look outward even in our suffering and through service to others, find the purpose and joy we long for.

“I thanked God for this miracle, for giving me this incredible gift to share with the world…I cried for the miracle of life, for the chance I and we all have been given to offer our unique gifts to the world, gifts born, so often, from our very woundedness.” ~Jackie Waldman

Listener’s Guide:

Use the time stamps below to skip to any part of the podcast. 

1:23  Ben’s story
8:49  Bea’s story
17:44  Brianne’s story
25:02  Jackie’s story

Quotes from this episode:

“When bad things happen to us; when bad things happen to good people, we still have the power to choose love, to choose service, to see that no matter what feels or seems broken in us or in our lives, we still have the opportunity to reach outside ourselves, to develop our gifts, to use them to serve others, and to live a mission driven life.” ~Audrey Rindlisbacher

“During each tour [at the Dallas Memorial Center for Holocaust Studies], when I told [the kids] about a particular survivor who lost his parents and brothers and sister, I always started to cry—it was the man who had founded this center so that could never happen again.  I left the tour each week exhausted—but feeling new energy that I had discovered…For the very first time since my MS diagnosis, I was feeling someone else’s pain and not thinking about myself. I liked the way I was feeling. And so I took on more volunteer jobs.” ~Jackie Waldman

“Wayne Dyer taught of going within and discovering that our purpose in life is to love unconditionally and to live a life of service…In that moment, I knew without a doubt who I was—not a person with a disease and weak legs, but a person who has a heart filled with love and wants to be of service.” ~Jackie Waldman

“I knew my purpose was to serve others—that’s why my service work always gave me new energy…I said, ‘God, OK, I’m really stretched. I keep saying ‘Yes’ to everyone.  I promise I’ll say ‘Yes’ to whatever YOU ask me to do. What’s next?”  Less than a week later, I woke up and looked at Steve.  “Ok, I got my marching orders. I’m writing a book, and I’ve been told exactly what it is about.  It’s about people who have suffered physical or emotional pain, and gone beyond their own pain to help someone else.” ~Jackie Waldman

“I had gone outside to throw the trash away, and I heard something moving in the Dumpster. When I peered over the edge, I saw a little boy from a nearby apartment in there.  He was digging around in that garbage looking for something to eat.  I had never seen anything like that in my life…I couldn’t imagine it.  I had worked so hard to provide for my own kids.  I realized that I had been so busy taking care of my own five children that I hadn’t noticed the needs of the other children right around me.” ~Bea Salazar

“I believe God called me to do this work.  God needed someone to look after these kids—and that someone was me.  When he calls you to do something, you don’t fight it.  You go with it.” ~Bea Salazar

“I am so blessed.  These children are the reason I’m here now.  That’s why I’m living—to help them.  Even when I have days when I can barely walk because of my injuries, I get up and get going because I know my kids need me.  They give me purpose.  In fact, they’ve given me more than I’ve ever given them.  I know now that this is why God saved my life…He saved my life because he needs me to take care of these children.” ~Bea Salazar

“I don’t let myself get into the depth of despair.  I always look for something good. I can always say, ‘Ok, so I did break my back. But I can still read a good book.  I can still play with my cat.” ~Brianne Schwantes

“Sure, there have been times when I’ve been tempted to question God or feel like He is punishing me for some reason I don’t understand.  There have been times when I’ve wondered why this had to happen.  But then I think about all the wonderful things that have happened in my life, and I know I can’t really stay depressed.” ~Brianne Schwantes

“From the time I was little, one of the things that has always made me feel the best has been helping other people with their problems.  It’s always been very healing for me.” ~Brianne Schwantes

“As I was getting my new business going, I thought long and hard about my recent experiences. I began to see that God had been trying to send me a message.  I knew the message had something to do with working with the poor, but I didn’t know exactly what to do.  So at a worship service on Sunday, I asked if anyone in the congregation wanted to meet with me to talk about the issues of the poor…Since we didn’t know yet exactly what direction to take, we decided to focus our attention first on our inward journey, the journey of the soul.  We began to read Scripture daily, keep journals, and spend two hours a week working with the impoverished.  We did that for nine months, meeting weekly to discuss what we were learning.  It was a time of tremendous spiritual growth.  And we began to realize that God was calling us to work with homeless people.  We decided that our goal would be to help homeless folks learn to meet their own needs.” ~Ben Beltzer

“The most important thing we do for our residents is that we love them.  No matter what else we do, love is the key.  And, in turn, I know that being with them and watching the positive changes in their lives gives me the greatest happiness and peace. The truth is that I’ve never been happier in my life.” ~Ben Beltzer

“[We can] have these conversations [with our children] about putting our lives in order and developing our gifts and becoming a service to the world.  We don’t have to wait until something hard happens.  We can do this now.  We can prepare ourselves using the 7 Laws of Life Mission [and] be inspired by those who, in spite of their  pain and in spite of their struggles, reached outside of themselves and found the real joy and healing that comes from purpose through service.” ~Audrey Rindlisbacher

Books from this episode: