If on Sunday I find myself full of hope, high on Jesus, fridge stocked with healthy ambitions, heart full of good intentions, and believing the best in all people, there is always Monday to crush my spirit in case I’m getting too obnoxious on optimism.
Today I am hopeful though. I had my young adult meeting last night with my homies from church, and we tried to tackle the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Its a heavy one, to be sure. And it doesn’t sound like one that would leave you with a hopeful feeling. But hear me out.
When I talk to people about Jesus, if they don’t believe in God, they often ask this question. We think about bad things on a global scale, like the sex trade, slavery, the Inquisition, hurricanes, etc. Why DO those things happen? I thought about these things..
- I think bad things can happen because we have free will. God created us to have free will so we could be in a loving relationship with Him, not just little robots. He’s got plenty of reasons not to love us, but He does anyway. And when you love someone, you give them choices and desire to know them personally. And so we get to chose whether or not we want to love or follow Him.
- This free will means that there are bad choices that can be made. And bad things can happen when you make a bad choice, OR someone makes a bad choice and you are affected by it. For example, when someone is drunk but chooses to drive, they can get in an accident, hurting themselves, innocent bystanders, mother nature, etc. People can choose to abuse power, like the recent sex scandals with football coaches, or Catholic priests, or powerful CEOS, or senators, etc. All your stereotypical abuses of power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
- Sin has a trickle effect. I don’t necessarily think that we’re constantly paying for the sins of previous generations, or that it gets inherited; I think that is a mostly Old Testament thing. BUT take for example a child that suffers abuse, who becomes more likely to abuse others, or drugs and alcohol, as they grow older.
- God can use all things to His glory. I’ve made some terrible decisions in my life, and others around me have done things that have affected my heart and mind. There has been pain. I can get angry about it and feel sorry for myself forever, or think I’ve been cut a bum deal, OR I can use that to reach out to others that are hurting. I can have empathy and love on people in a special way. For example, I can identify with my students who face divorce more than most of my colleagues. I often speak into their lives about my own experiences, and how to push through.
- God is all-powerful, so technically he can make bad things happen. But He doesn’t. People do. Even big things like world hunger and child soldiers….we want to shake our fists at the sky and shout “Why aren’t you doing something about this?” when really God must be shaking His fist at us and saying “Why aren’t YOU?” We have the resources to end world hunger, cure all kinds of diseases, clean up our oceans, and educate our children…but ultimately people let their greed for money or power or possessions get in the way of so much good that could be done.
Our pastor reminded us tonight that when we live in the longterm hope of Heaven, everything that is terrible and fallen about this world makes us uncomfortable, and we can long for the next one. If life was always peachy here in Earth, would I bother seeking out a Savior? Would I even think I needed one?
- 189 – God as a Merman. The Shack. And sweet baby Jesus. (racheldangerw.wordpress.com)
November 14, 2011 at 2:09 pm
I really enjoyed this post. I am not your typical attend-service-every-Sunday, but I definitely believe in God and a higher power, and I found myself agreeing with every point you made. You talk about religion in a way that is comfortable and relatable, as opposed to others “believe what I say or else” style. Kudos :)
November 14, 2011 at 10:59 pm
Thanks so much for reading!
November 14, 2011 at 6:01 pm
Rachel – this ? is always hard (why bad things happen to GOOD people – why do bad things happen to ANYONE??) But the challenge is just what your Pastor said: choice. We humans are not robots as God created us to CHOOSE Light & Love (vs. darkness & Evil) but still, it seems like the innocent always pay the price for BAD choices of others (especially victims of war, conflict, violence etc.) But that’s why – duh – God gives us hands & feet? to be HIS love in this world (with clothes on!)
This (very) serious post aside, your blog is SO MUCH FUN! I don’t know who the heck Brian Wilson is, but your blogs about him made me laugh…out loud … more than once! HILARIOUS.
Wishing you the best in that courtship (wait, does he play basketball – court-ship, get it?? .. that’s pretty bad : ) grace, peace & Courtships – Virginia (in Virginia)
November 15, 2011 at 10:11 am
Hello Rachel, I’m Wayne. I came by to say thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you enjoyed it. I enjoyed your post. Like you, I know far less that what I know, but I have faith in God inspite of not being able to understand everything that happens. I read a book recently called “When God Doesn’t Make Sense” by Dr. James Dobson. It addresses these issues in a very interesting and gentle way. I keep a journal and in it I keep a list of questions and I when I find something that addresses those questions I write them down. Then I look at them in light of what the Bible says. I’ve found it very helpful. Have a great day. :)