I really don’t know why bad things happen to us.
I don’t have all the answers. Why do we sometimes get sick before a big event? Why will the car suddenly not start one morning? Why do we sometime have complications during surgery when we’d prayed and prayed for everything to go well?
Like I said, I don’t have all the answers, but I have come to realize one thing.
As I’ve taken care of my disabled mom these past few years, I’ve learned that God sometimes allows things to happen to us because he plans to work them out for our good. In other words, sometimes God blesses us with a gecko infestation.
Okay, I just lost you, didn’t I? Yeah, I know, I’ll have to explain the bit about the geckos, so bear with me.
Geckos are not something most people think of as a blessing. I’ll bet when Thanksgiving rolls around, thanking God for the little lizards that roam the Earth doesn’t usually make your top ten list. Well, you’re not alone.
I once read a story of a guy doing missionary work on an island in the Pacific. He was prepared for the poverty, disease, starvation, and so on. None of that really fazed him, but what really got to him were the geckos. Yes, geckos, and they were everywhere. They were on the bed as he crawled under the sheets at night. They were in his underwear drawer. They “Spider Maned” all over the walls and ceiling, and stared at him piercingly with lidless glass eyes as he slept, ate, got out of the shower… You get the picture.
The final straw for this poor guy came when he went to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Wouldn’t you know it, a whopper of a gecko was stuck on the wall by the toilet, gawking at him, unmoving, right near the U-bend of the toilet. The poor guy couldn’t do his business with this reptilian audience glaring at him, so the guy called his roommate.
This big burly roommate was the mission’s official bug killer. If anything got in their way, this dude could be counted on to deal with the creepy crawlies and save the day… until that night. The roommate took one look at this especially large gecko and freaked out. “It’s meaty!!!” he screamed. He absolutely refused to go anywhere near it.
Suddenly I couldn’t breathe for laughing so hard.
Here a couple of strong dudes where standing in a little bathroom in the middle of the night, pinching their knees together in an attempt to hold it as they argued about who would kill the gecko. Now, I’m not normally an unsympathetic person, but this time I couldn’t help myself.
You see, I grew up with geckos.
I was born a Navy brat to parents stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. I spent the first seven years of my life surrounded both by geckos and the remarkable local people who call the islands their home. And what was the first pearl of wisdom these people gave my mom when she first arrived in Honolulu?
In short, they told her to NOT KILL THE GECKOS. The geckos are a blessing to the house, and they should be left unmolested. Just let them be, and I’ll take care of you.
I know, it sounds crazy, but take it from someone who grew up watching these little lizards in action.
If a gecko is on your bed, or in your underwear drawer, or in your bathroom, whatever bug the gecko was eating isn’t there anymore.
Trust me, the geckos are preferable. Far too many bugs in the tropics don’t even stop at six legs. Believe me, four-legged nonpoisonous lizards that eat those bugs are superheroes in disguise. As difficult as it may be for newbies to the islands to understand, an infestation of geckos is truly a blessing.
After we moved back to the northeastern United States, geckos became a thing of the past, or at least they did in the physical sense. I’ve only recently realized that God has sent me his own special variety to geckos to bless me when I’ve least expected it.
Just a few years ago, my mom prepared for the first of many surgeries, this one to repair her blown out left shoulder.
Believe me, when you’re paralyzed from the waist down and stuck in a wheelchair, only having one good limb is a real hardship. With the shoulder injury, she went from being fairly independent to suddenly needing help with everything, and I mean everything. And things wouldn’t get any better until her shoulder got fixed.
I prayed to God again and again that her surgery would go smoothly and be free of complications.
I got all my friends and my entire church praying. Frankly, I was terrified, and heaven could not be petitioned too much on the subject. Well, despite all our efforts, our prayers went unanswered. She did have a fairly serious complication in the form of a cracked bone, and she had to stay in an inpatient rehab facility for several weeks before she could go home.
I was devastated, but God had a plan.
When Mom went to rehab, she was assigned to a doc who specialized in spinal cord injuries and pain management. This doc understood the complexities of my mom’s condition in ways that no one had since the initial injury decades ago. This doctor decided to try Mom on a medication designed to treat the damaged nerves in Mom’s spine. Not only did the medication lessen the debilitating nerve pain, but it also lessened the white noise of the pain signals enough for some healthy nerve signals to get through.
Before I knew it, the mom that I loved, who had been paralyzed for years, was suddenly walking with the assistance of her physical therapist. She was walking. WALKING! My mom was walking for the first time in years… and it wouldn’t have happened if God had answered my prayers.
God used the surgical complications to get my mom exactly where she needed to be with the doctor she most needed to see. I didn’t want her to have complications. I didn’t want her to go to a rehab facility, but when she left rehab, she not only had a healed shoulder, she had legs that worked.
The surgical complications were a gecko infestation.
It was something that we wouldn’t normally want, but because we had that unwanted thing in our lives, it got rid of something else much worse: my mom’s nerve pain and lower body paralysis. And you know what? It’s made me rethink unanswered prayers in general.
I’ll never know this side of heaven why the car suddenly wouldn’t start that morning. Was it just an annoyance, or did God not answer my fervent prayers for the car to start because he was keeping me out of a fatal car accident? When my mom got sick and her next surgery had to be rescheduled, was it just because life stinks sometimes, or was God protecting us? Would that have been a bad day for her to have surgery? Would something have gone wrong?
I’ll never know all the answers this side of heaven, but there’s one thing I do know.
God says he has good plans for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). I also know that, sometimes, those good plans involve gecko infestations. He sends us blessing in disguise that protect us from things that would have done us harm.
So yeah, I still don’t have all the answers about why things happen the way they do, but I’ve decided to trust God anyway. No matter what happens, he’s working all things our for my good (Romans 8:28). And I mean, all things. He can do that, because he’s God, and truly nothing is impossible with him.
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, I’d like to invite you to check out the rest of my blog, Give Us This Day Our PB&J. While there, you can also sign up to follow my blog to receive emails of new articles as they become available.
God bless you. I hope you’ll remember to count your blessings each and every day, including the geckos!