“Shit Happens”
Idiom: used to say that bad things happen as part of life and cannot be prevented

I was at a very low point in my life, perhaps the lowest to date. I had lost a wife to cancer, another to a divorce, which led to the loss of my reputation and my public ministry. I was struggling with depression. A mentor happened to be passing through and I asked for some time with him. He was a mentor I respected highly. He had a PhD in New Testament and was very sensitive to the work of the Holy Spirit, a rare combination.

Over lunch, I gave him the details of the mess I was in. (He knew the big picture through my emails.) I told him I didn’t know how things could get that bad. I must have reeked of self-pity. I was hoping to get some word of wisdom, some prophetic utterance from him. He said: “Shit happens.” I didn’t see that coming. Maybe he was trying to shock me out of my self-pity. I interpreted what he said to mean – we live in a fallen world. Bad things happen. Get over it. Sometimes it is because of our sin. Sometimes others sin against us. Often it is a combination of both. But in a fallen world, bad things happen. He then went on to tell me a story.

He told me about the time in his life when he had made a critical decision without consulting the Lord. He wanted a ministry position so bad he had grasped it without checking with the Lord. It was a decision that had resulted in much pain for him and his family. He told me that he had then turned to the Lord and confessed his failure to seek His will. The Lord forgave him and gave him a fresh assignment, which resulted in many years of fruitful ministry. The message was clear. Even the best of us may fumble but if we return to the Lord, as Peter did in the Gospels, the Lord forgives and reboots our lives. It was a word that I desperately needed to hear. In life, any of us may make boo-boos, even major ones. But God is bigger than our boo-boos.

Recently I met a new friend. He was deciding if he should continue in a ministry position. He said that it was a tough decision because he was fearful that he might hear God wrongly and make a mistake. I told him our lives are not predicated on our making the right decision at every turn but on the fact that we have a loving Father who holds our hand and guides us through life.

The Lord makes firm the steps
of the one who delights in him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall,
for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

(Psalm 37:23-24 NIV)

While we must do due diligence when making key decisions – and whatever approach we take for discerning God’s will will involve prayer, searching the Scriptures, and consulting the community of believers – there is the possibility that we might decide wrongly. We might make a boo-boo. But God is bigger than our boo-boos, and if we turn to Him He will sort things out. In life, bad things happen, but God is there. Turn to Him. Walk with Him.