During my U.K. visit in 1990, I came across a wonderful book titled 'When Bad Things Happen to Good People'. I reached London on 27 April and on the 29, visited my niece. She is very positive and helpful person. At that time a relation of hers (a young lady) was staying there and had come for a knee operation. There was problem in one of her knees and it was to be operated upon. It was a major operation scheduled for 14 May.
We were all talking about this. I found the lady to be confident and positive. It pleased us all and then we started talking about why Bad Things Happen to God People. The lady was a Lecturer in a reputed public school of Delhi. She had been a good player all through her student life. So much so, she aimed to join IPS, which she could not do for various reasons. She got married to a well placed man working for an international airline. She had a son and they were leading a happy and successful life. And suddenly the trouble came. By no stretch of imagination, they could think of this development. After the operation, perhaps, she was not to be her normal self and she knew it well. But she was still positive in her attitude and confidently participated in the discussion.
As we were trying to draw our conclusions about such happenings, the husband of my niece took out the book 'When Bad Things Happen to Good People' written by Harold S. Kushner. The book was obviously most relevant to our subject of discussion. I was told that it was a rare book and not easily available. Since I was to stay in the U.K. for about three months, I borrowed the book and went through it immediately thereafter. And it turned out ot be a wonderful book. Then the thought came to my mind to prepare a write-up on the conclusions of the book and present it to my friends. I am sure that this thoughtful, life-affirming book will help you cope with hard times and personal pain. Filled with compassion, it will give you comfort and strength when tragedy threatens to take away your faith and help you understand that God can fulfill the deepest needs of an anguished heart.
The author is a rabbi of Jews (clergyman) in the USA. When he was young, he had a son who was a bright and happy child. The family was a very happy one but suddenly the child was detected for a very strange disease. His hair started falling out after he turned one year old and stopped growing. Doctors called this phenomenon 'Progeria'. They told the author that the child would never grow beyond three feet in height, would have no hair on his head or body, would look like a little old man while he was still a child and would die in his early teens.
How does one handle news like that? Like any other common man, the author felt deeply shocked and questioned God's fairness. He was a good man doing all that a good person is supposed to do. The question 'Why did it happen to him only?' came to his mind again and again. He started searching for answers to it and the book is result of that search. The boy, of course, died at the age of fourteen as predicted but the thinking of the author reduced the agony of the reality to a great extent and changed his life altogether in the time to come.
The misfortune of good people are not only a problem to the people who suffer and their families, they are a problem for everyone who wants to believe in a just and fair and livable world. They inevitably raise questions about the goodness, the kindness and even the existence of God. The general attitude is the assumption that we get what we deserve and we always try to find reasons for justifying whatever happens to us. At times we also try to establish that the tragedy has happened for our good.