Karma is a popular topic people have been talking about these days. I’ve been hearing things like, “Karma is a b!%$#” or “what goes around comes around.” Also, I’ve been asked on numerous occasions recently whether or not I believe in karma. First of all, what is karma?
Hah! But seriously, what is karma? There are various schools of thought regarding the concept of karma. For instance, the Hindus and Buddhists believe differently about how it works. I still have to look into it more, but I’m pretty sure the true definition of the word karma is just the universal principle of cause and effect. Karma is not fate nor punishment, retribution, or reward. Basically, karma gives a name to the idea that for every action there is a consequence. I suppose I believe in this notion as it is basic logic. “If x is a necessary cause of y, then the presence of y necessarily implies the presence of x. The presence of x, however, does not imply that y will occur.”
There are those who espouse themselves to the belief that “God does not make one suffer for no reason” and “if you’re experiencing pain, it must be because you’ve done something wrong.” I, however, hold to the worldview that sometimes there truly is no reason to why an individual suffers. Theists who believe in karma must also somehow incorporate God’s goodness and justice into their philosophy but I’m not sure if the two standpoints mesh.
Yeshua never promised that we wouldn’t suffer. In fact, He stated quite the opposite (John 16:33). Doing the right thing is not easy and we Christians were promised to face trials of many kinds in this world (1 Peter 1:6-7, Matthew 10:22) but not without eternal reward one day.
Remember the story in John 9:2-3? The disciples asked Yeshua, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They could not reconcile in their minds that his blindness had no cause. Today, doctors might give us a scientific answer: “Well, you see, the optic nerve was underdeveloped in utero” (or the retina or cornea or what have you). “And the cause of this was poor prenatal diet” (or premature birth etc). But Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
Some people believe that if one does good things, good things will in turn happen for that individual. Yes, sometimes, but not necessarily always. I don’t think I buy into the whole karma deal and my counter-example is Job. He was a righteous man who found favor in the sight of God and yet he underwent tremendous suffering. It is probably safest to say that when you do bad things, sometimes bad things might happen to you and if you do good things, sometimes good things happen to you.
I do believe the Lord chastens those who accept His son as their Savior (Hebrews 12:6) such as the case of David who committed adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12:13-23). God caused David’s baby to become sick and die as restitution for his extramarital affair. I also believe God is gracious and gives us second and even third chances to repent and turn back to Him. Please note that I’m not saying all babies die as a result of sin. Most probably die just as a natural course of sin in the world. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and there doesn’t seem to be any explanation. God “maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
All this talk of karma brings me to ponder my own situation. I worried for so long people would believe my situation was brought upon myself by my own choices. (Perhaps, in a way, this is true.) But I don’t feel I did anything horrible enough to deserve the outcome I find myself in. Those who believe in karma might point fingers at me and say, “See? Maybe you did something wrong to inflict this upon yourself.”
I am journeying through a very difficult time of grief and pain right now. Spiritual oppression hits me at every turn. I was physically ill for nearly two months and the doctors could do nothing for my symptoms. I have no doubt my emotional pain was manifesting itself in the form of a horrendous, seemingly unending sinus infection. Yet I trust the Lord with all my heart that this pain is for a reason though I cannot quite see what it is. Perhaps, as this poem points out, it is to shape me into who He wants me to be for His eternal Kingdom.
The Way of Suffering
from “Christ The Eternal Tao” by Hieromonk Damascene
I give you no formulas, says the Way,
I give you no equations.
But I will heal you in My own time,
In My own way,
Imperceptible to you.
Your mind races, seeking a solution;
But there is no solution that can be grasped by the mind.
Your mind tries every avenue,
Thinking that at least one will open up suddenly on the longed for goal:
Freedom from pain.
But every avenue is a dead-end;
You are up against a wall,
The goal is not reached.
That is because the pain is there for a reason.
It is like a maddening fever that burns up and drives out disease.
By it alone do I heal you:
Without it you will die in your sickness.
By it alone do I change you unto perfection:
Without it you will be as a foreigner in my Kingdom.
Seek no formula.
Seek no equation.
Only be patient:
Wait on Me
While I do My unseen work inside you.
When you are changed and fit for My Kingdom,
You will know that something happened,
And that is all you will know.
But there is no need for thought.
Enter, then, into My joy,
You who have waited, in devotion, in My pain.
I have been reading a book right now called “Where Is God When It Hurts?” by Philip Yancey. I am beginning to see pain as a sort of gift from God. I know that sounds slightly morbid but honestly, imagine a world where people felt no pain! Really think about it for a minute. Children wouldn’t jerk their hands away from hot stoves thus receiving third degree burns. People would burn their flesh submerging themselves into hot bath water. People who suffer from leprosy literally feel no pain, and reap horrifying consequences. For example, if you were a leper and sprained your ankle, you wouldn’t immediately stop but keep walking on it because you felt no pain that would alert you to rest it. You could possibly damage your ankle for life if you continued to use it instead of resting. Pain demands that we take a break so that we can heal. Emotional suffering is kind of like that, too, I suppose. I really feel like I just need a break so I can heal. This holiday season has been a great time of recharging my batteries, but also pretty stressful because of how many days our office didn’t work which means finances are extremely tight. It is times like these that I need to REST in the Lord and trust Him that He will provide for my every need and He truly has. I am so thankful that He is taking care of me and that I don’t need to worry. I have such a great support group that I know I will not become homeless like the people I handed out food, clothing, and sleeping bags to on Christmas day. “Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! (Psalm 106:1)