By Engr. Carlos Cornejo
There is a fascinating book entitled “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday. The book teaches us how we can draw good things from everything even in seemingly bad situations.
For instance, if you have a terrible boss in the office, Mr. Holiday says you can look at it at the bright side by coming up with different styles on how to deal with this kind of boss. You could propose a project or initiative that he or she might like. If nothing clicks and you end up resigning because the boss’s attitude is just unbearable, then you end up with more skills that you can use in your next job.
Or Mr. Holiday says perhaps you got injured and can’t play sports for two months. You can take the opportunity to catch up on your readings for personal and career growth. Or you can come up with a training and nutrition program for yourself so that when you return to your sports, you are more durable and healthier than ever.
Or when you are feeling nervous because you are about to give a speech in front of crowd, instead of telling yourself, “I am feeling anxious, I need to calm down” turn this bad thing into good by telling yourself “I am excited”. Studies reveal that people rated excited speakers as more persuasive, confident, and competent than the speakers who had tried to calm themselves down. “When life hands you lemons, make a lemonade.”
This turning bad things into something good is very much part of Christian doctrine. In fact, the entire Christian doctrine is rooted in it. When Adam and Eve committed original sin, which is the root of all the chaos we see in the world, the Church sees something good in it because it gained for us a Savior who is God that became Man. It is a biggest gift to mankind because not even the angels are a recipient of it. God did not become an angel to live with angels but became man to live with us. With the Incarnation, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity has become Man forever because of us. In heaven Jesus Christ is both God and Man.
The presence of evil in this world is the strongest argument atheists would use to claim the non-existence of a God. How can a loving and just God allow suffering especially of the innocents, or permit senseless deaths of thousands in a war or concentration camps for example? The answer is God allows suffering and even seemingly senseless suffering to draw good from it. Not only some good but a greater good. Meaning the greater the tragedy the greater is the good. If it were a lesser tragedy, a greater good could not be obtained.
One theory for example on God allowing a Hitler to cause so much suffering and death during World War II was to make us realize the Hitler attitude in us. If we had not seen such evil, we would have tolerated it and made it more widespread.
But the greatest evil that was turned into the greatest good was, when men crucified God. Christ made use of the betrayal of Judas, the cruelty of the Jews, the timidity of Pontius Pilate, and the hatred of the Devil to obtain eternal justice for God, because of men’s sins. Christ erased those sins through his sacrifice on the Cross and regain entrance to heaven for those who want to be saved.
And how does one get saved? By imitating Christ in making use of the pain and suffering we experience in this world and unite it to His suffering renewed daily in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and thus turn it into something good rising up to eternal life.