In bad times, do good anyway

“All I’ve ever wanted was to help someone with the truth…. Sometimes the bad outweighs the good.” —Abigail Sciuto

As time goes by, our experiences are rarely one-sided, where good always wins over evil. Regardless, we cling to the belief that all ends well on this earth, and life is good.

Having long abandoned the practice of watching meaningless television programs, I find myself attracted to a select few that challenge the viewer to think, to explore meaningful, close-to-home issues real people face every day.

Abigail Sciuto is a chief forensic scientist in the CBS series “NCIS,” played by actress Pauley Perrette. In the 10th season, Episode 13, “Hit and Run,” Abby faces her worst fears when a current case reminds her of an incident that robbed her of childhood innocence.

This glaring revelation was overwhelming for Abby. She was frozen with fear and a realization that good would never win and evil might always prevail. In a flashback episode, little Abby could not fix it, and this day was no better.

I remember days like that. Memories will never leave the mind. We hope against all hope, but in time, our innocence is lost and our worst fears come to life. We lose faith. We lose heart.

Growing up in a pastor’s family, while moving from one place to another, I had a front-row seat in the drama of community life. All people suffer from the effects of poor behavior, whether it’s self-inflicted or not. The only difference is, some people make good choices that outweigh the bad choices of others, regardless of the circumstances they are in.

A good marriage turns sour, and a young family suffers. A farmer loses land through deceit and trickery, and his family suffers the effects of financial ruin, perpetrated by an elder in a local church. A daughter loses her inheritance through legal wrangling. Adultery, affairs, addiction or theft of services and property, all of these rob people and families of their rightful inheritance of a good and peaceful life.

In this life, we should not be surprised that—and not just sometimes, but more often than not—the bad outweighs the good. Scripture, in Revelation, teaches that good eventually overcomes evil, but not until the very last days.

Finding our way back to the good can be long and painful. But I have seen the good coming forth as people choose to live with a purpose for doing good, even while storms come their way.

The young family moves on, adapting and growing up, learning how to live in their new environment, minus one. The farmer, now deceased, lived every day with a forgiving heart, mindful that his honored position before the God of Heaven was a gift of mercy and grace. The daughter chose to move on and live a life of thankfulness and gratitude, rather than allow bitterness to take root. Her children follow in that mindset, choosing to focus on the good they can leave behind as they live out their lives according to the values they learned from their mother’s teaching, an appropriate legacy that speaks volumes.

Six years ago, I welcomed a younger man as he joined the officer team of the National Association of Wheat Growers. It was a late-night arrival from Reagan International Airport in Washington, D.C.. I knew Brett previously as an active board member from Wash­ing­ton State, but I did not learn of his personal journey until much later.

We ate our first meal together late at night, in a grungy, absolutely filthy burger joint in the downtown area, as nothing else was open at the time. I immediately developed a great deal of respect and admiration for this gentleman.

Though having chosen a career later in life to follow in his father’s footsteps as a farmer, his earlier interest in music took him to New York City, graduating with a master’s degree in the performance arts as a concert pianist.

Sometime after marrying and choosing to answer the call to return home to farm, this young man’s bride became seriously ill. Shortly after, they learned it was cancer, which later took her life.

Amid the chores of managing a large farm, to alleviate his bride’s suffering, he gave a concert in the living room of their home, each day, to an audience of one. As I heard the story for the first time, I could not hold back the tears, nor did I want to.

During the ensuing years as we worked side by side on policy matters, I attended three performances by Brett. During a scheduled break in a meeting of an advisory board of CEOs, Brett shared his story how this particular piece of music held deep meaning to him, that his music provided relief and comfort to his beloved as she transitioned from this life to the next.

That day, as music filled the room, one executive began to weep. An associate later revealed his wife also was near death’s door, and the simple rendition of “To God be the Glory!” brought him much encouragement.

Yes, sometimes the bad outweighs the good. We can, however, choose to do good anyway, and shine the light of God’s goodness on all who find comfort in it.

Paul Penner farms in the Hillsboro area. He has been active statewide and nationally regarding agriculture policy.