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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why does God let bad things happen?

When someone dies and they are 80 or older, the ultimate soothing words are, "She had lived a long and great life." Yet when a younger person died, the question of "Why?" seems to be more prevalent.

She was only 50 and in the prime of her life. She had a great life, yet she was not finished. She did not get to retire and enjoy the fruits of her hard work. Worse, she did not get to see her grandchildren grow up. Her fruit was plucked too early from the tree.

It's not fair to her. It's not fair to her children. It's not fair to her grandchildren.

The question of the day is: "Why does God let this happen? How could a god who let someone die so unfairly be just? How could a fair God take away someone so young?. How could a God who blessed us for so many years with so much, do this?"

Yet we must remember God does not provide a course for us in this life. God is like the perfect capitalist in that he allows us to make our own decisions and in that way live in a truly free world. God can neither take away nor add to our freedom, only man can do that.

And man has done that. Man has made some pretty horrific decisions, and suffered the consequences. Likewise, man has done some amazing things, and through the course of years the world has become a better place.

We live off the consequences of our actions, and we reap the rewards of our successes. And while God may answer some prayers, he cannot answer them all. Yet by not answering a prayer it is not a reason to think that He is not with you and does not love you.

Many times through the course of History God tried to rid the world of evil, of non rational thought, and of poor decisions, yet he failed every time. In the true capitalist world He created, that's just the way it is. He learned as we learned, and He still learns as we still learn.

He warned Adam and Eve about eating from the Tree of Wisdom, and they did not listen. He wiped out an evil world in the story of Noah, yet the story of the Tower of Babel shows that even while given a fresh start, men have a way of reverting back to old ways, including old ways that were unjust, unfair, and completely wrong.

It is through these stories that we learn that no matter how hard God tries to love us and to help us as we walk through the sands of time in this life, the only real gifts He can give us are spiritual, and include Life, Hope and Faith and the ultimate gift of eternal life.

You can also think of God as a parent. Like we learn from our experiences, He learns. When he was a new parent, he had a bad temper and the punishments he gave were harsh. When he saw most people worshiped false Gods he killed all mankind except for Noah and his family.

When Moses was on Mount Sanai getting information from God, the Israelites created false god in the gold calf and worshiped it, and God told Moses he was going to kill them all. Moses pleaded with God that he had already promised Abraham's children to have as many descendents as their are stars in the sky. He talked God out of killing his children.

In this way, God learned from past experiences. He learned to listen to the prayers of those who plead for mercy, and not let himself get so angry. In modern times he is very humble and very patient with His children (all of us).

I see this is similar to the way I parent. When I first became a parent every little thing irritated me and my first child was punished for things that I would now brush off as unimportant. Since I am in God's image, I am like God in this way. We do what we can with the wisdom we have today, and when we learn better we do better.

So why does God let bad things happen? The answer to that question is that he doesn't let them happen. He has no more control over this world than you and I do.

We must remember that in the Bible (Genesis 1: 26-27) God said, "And now we will make human beings; they will be like us and resemble us... So God created human beings, making them to be like himself."

Since God is not a perfect God, then man is therefore not perfect. Thus, one of the biggest fallacies of all time is that He is perfect and knows all. He may know all that we do, yet he is no more knowledgeable as to what will happen one moment to the next as you nor I.

Think of it this way. You know pretty much all that is going in your world just like he knows all that goes on in his. Yet you have no control of all the individual cells in your body, just as he has no control over all the individual people in his world.

In this way, we are like God, and in His image. We are individuals, and we are flawed.

It's easy to have passionate resignation and to feel anger and hate, even in the Lord, and especially when times are hard like this. By giving us the special gift of life in his image, a life where we are free to live as we please, good things and bad things are going to happen.

Regardless, we must all continue to have is passionate hope and faith, because God's promise for us all, the ultimate gift, is an everlasting life with Him.

We must never forget. We must never lose hope. We must never lose faith. We must live and learn as best we can, and to do the best we can with the gifts we are given. We must love the special people in our lives, and we must appreciate every moment as though it were our last.

We must never stop in our quest to make the world better with each breath we take, with each step we take, with each life we touch, and even with the legacy we leave behind.

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." Indian Philosopher


Lauren Sheil said...

The assumption that God isn't perfect is a slippery slope that can lead to justification of just about any action.

The whole notion of God evolving along with human society leads to a moral relativist argument that could go like this; "I'm not perfect and neither is God - just look at the bible - I'm learning as I go just like he did."

I'm not saying I have the answer, I'm just concerned that your argument of an evolving God doesn't quite work for me.

"Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect." [Matthew 5:48]

Rick Frea said...

I think just the opposite. It's a sign that God -- like humans -- becomes wiser with experience. God actually tells Zacharia to tell the people how he has "grown with experience."

Matthew writing that people have to be "perfect" to get to Heaven is Jesus setting a goal for us. We must strive to be perfect, yet he is wise enough to know no human can be perfect.

If God truly expected humans to be perfect, he wouldn't have much company, if any at all.

Rick Frea said...

Likewise, any person (or group of people) who believes a "perfect" society is possible is setting themselves up for a huge disappointment.