On the evening of New Year’s Day, 1998, I was driving my family to our new home from my in-laws house. We had just moved back to the area from Virginia, and we had to drive about 20 miles to get home.
As I drove west along the state route, we hit a patch of ice. Maybe a gust of wind caught the van, but for whatever reason, the front of our Aerostar van pulled left and would not respond to steering. I remember thinking, as we slid down the road sideways, that if we were to suddenly hit dry pavement, we would probably flip and roll.
We continued to spin and ended up in a field. The van was still upright, and everyone was OK. The road was empty when we spun across the eastbound lane and off the south side of the road. We were able to drive out of the field, back onto the road, and continue on to our home. There was no apparent damage, other than to our nerves.
The next day, we drove back along the same state route, trying to identify where we had gone off the road. We couldn’t tell, and for much of that stretch of road there was either a ditch or a fence along the south side. We could say that we dodged a bullet, or we could say that our guardian angels were working overtime that night. Or we could say that God was trying to send us a wake-up call.
We cannot know in this life why some are spared and some are not. All that we can do is accept the situation for what it is and try to learn from it. I believe that God communicates with us through the events of our lives. If we can recognize the moments of actual grace for what they are, then we can learn something about where God is leading us, and what his plan for us might be. Our faith helps us to contextualize the mysteries of life.
God allows bad things to happen so that a greater good can come from it. We have to trust him, even when we do not and cannot understand his reasons.