Making Sense of Life

Understanding tragedy: Why is this happening?


Have you ever wondered why there are times when nothing goes right?

The principles of metaphysics teach us that nothing happens tous that doesn’t happen through us. While this concept may be true on some level, there’s much more to equation. If we leave ourselves there our misfortunes can become a huge self-blame game. Here’s what I mean.

Over 20 years ago I was mugged, robbed, and shot in the face. Being still somewhat new to metaphysical thought I immediately took complete responsibility for the experience. But, I couldn’t figure out what I might have done to deserve that!

The truth is I didn’t deserve it. No one deserves to go through that kind of pain, suffering, and loss. But why did it happen?

Think about this first:  Do we really want to understand tragic events that happen? A former teacher of mine was asked how to understand the actions of Hitler. Her answer was that she didn’t want to understand it. “To understand that,” she explained, “I might discover I’m capable of doing what he did.”

Offering another viewpoint, Rabbi Aron Moss asks,

Are you sure you want an explanation? Do you really want to know why the innocent suffer? I think not. You are far better off with the question than with an answer. … If this ultimate question were answered, then we would be able to make peace with the suffering of innocents. And that is unthinkable.

I wasn’t until years after the incident I talk about above that I got some insight on what happened. I finally admitted to myself why I was in the place and at the time I found myself when the attack occurred. If I would have followed my usual schedule, I would have been safely home and asleep by that time. Instead, I chose to be somewhere else earlier in the evening. It was somewhere I had no business being, doing something I knew was not in my best interests.

Did the universe (or God, if you prefer) punish me for my actions earlier in the evening? No. Did I set myself up to lose by breaking my own rules and not listening to my intuition? I believe I did. I do not judge whether or not that applies to you in some situation you might be thinking of right now; that is for you, and you alone, to determine.

I live my life taking full responsibility for the outcomes in my life. The universal law of cause and effect does not play favorites, nor does it have a secondary backup system if we unconsciously set ourselves up to lose. For me that means I don’t allow myself to play the victim, or be victimized, at least on the conscious level.

Universal laws work exactly as physical laws; they only say, “Yes.” For example, electricity and gravity don’t care if you’re a good person or a bad person. It works the same for anyone. Applying this to spiritual laws requires a “Yes” response as well. True, it may take a while for that “Yes” to appear in our life, but any time lag has more to do with us focusing on the problem instead of the solution. This impartial force brings about our focus, whether we judge that good or bad.

I’ll admit there are times when I long for the days I believed in a benevolent supreme being who had a plan for me, a force that would ensure my success, only my success, and protect me from an evil in which I no longer believe. Those times of doubt are few and far between nowadays, lasting a brief few moments, and not a way of life.

Instead, I prefer to revel in the truth that I am the one responsible for my life and the outcomes. Like piloting a ship or jet aircraft, the process requires constant vigilance and many course corrections throughout our lives. When you and I follow the rules that go along with universal law, we are ultimately guaranteed success.

It that easy? Not usually in my experience, sometimes perhaps, but not always. The concepts are as simple and direct, but that simple direction requires us to look deep within ourselves for those answers. It’s much easier to blame God, the devil, our parents, or the government. It’s far more difficult to take personal responsibility for the outcome of our lives.

The effort, however, is worth it. When you and I decide our course, when we focus on what we want, when we are willing to correct course in the process or accept help from others, we are rewarded with an end result that says, “I did it.” It wasn’t luck. It was our own hard work, backed up by a power greater than us that is working for our benefit.

Terry is speaker, licensed social worker, and award-winning author. Contact him at:


No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here