Have you ever wondered about this?
A beautiful summation to a very human and vexing question, answered with humble understanding. Thank you again for all the wisdom and common sense you've provided for your subscribers this year. Your perspective opens up new vistas of understanding on many of the difficult problems we have encountered during this deadly and divisive period in our in history. I like to think that when I pray for help or comfort, God has given you to us to be a light of knowledge and understanding.
Merry Christmas, John. Best wishes and blessings for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Merry Christmas and bless us everyone.
I love your beautiful salient points... Thank you from the laymen and laywomen of this dirty world. Choice is involved every day and his tender mercies are also renewed each day. May his blessings be multiplied in your life and all of those that choose to be blessed by the wisdom of their creator.
This is wonderful writing. I enjoy your bold and articulate articles very much. I would love to “continue the conversation” and add to this one: 1) our own sin and the sin of others is the cause of much suffering (you touched on this with the point of free will), 2) “affliction” or imperfection can sometimes be so that the works of God might be displayed (John 9:2-4), and 3) when we act in accordance with God's will, we are actually his body (hands and feet) in the world, so, in that, God absolutely IS doing something about the "bad things.” Thanks so much again for your work.
" but that’s not how this world is designed. "
Yes...if sin had not entered in. We all suffer on account of sin.
Also, most of our problems in life are the result of our own bad choices. If you're wife left you because you cheated on her, the decision to cheat was yours. If you're a drunk or a drug addict, who forced you to start drinking or using drugs? If you're a single mother wondering how you will take care of yourself and a baby, who forced you to have sex with a man who had no intention of sticking around? If you were knifed in a gang fight, why were you in a gang? Yes, there are cases like these where you could give some excuse why it seemed like a reasonable and moral thing to do at the time. There are cases where a person is an innocent victim of evil people, or of forces beyond his control. But most of our problems are the consequences of our own sin. The complaint often comes down to, "I didn't want to obey God's laws. I spit in his face and told him he had no right to tell me what to do. Then my life fell apart. Why didn't God protect me and bless me when I told him to stay out of my life?"
Also, suffering turns people to God. I can think of many occasions when I've heard someone say, "My drinking and drug abuse and gambling led me an absolute low. I lost my job, my wife left me, I woke up lying in a gutter in a pool of my own vomit. And then I cried out to God to save me." But I have never, ever heard someone say, "My life was going great. I had a good job, a beautiful wife, perfect health. And I realized that all these good things just must come from a loving God, so I turned to him in gratitude."
I once heard an agnostic who attends a supposedly Christian denomination say to me; "the Bible never uses the phrase "free will", as if the whole point of life was not learning to make choices that obey and honor God. I just replied to him, "what I've been taught is that God did create a race of beings who didn't have to have faith in Him, they knew who He was, and that still didn't rule out bad choices- fully one third of the angels revolted and were cast down from heaven." If we are to learn, and to earn the Father's trust to live for eternity and be given power and authority to do amazing and important things, we must use our lives to endure bad things and learn from those decisions, their effects, and what effect they had on both the afflicted, and on the person who made them. It's the difference between King David and King Herod. Thanks for writing this timely column, John- Merry Christmas, and God bless you!
Who chooses the earthquakes, tsunami, and other large scale disaster?
Another factor is that hardship often leads people to turn to God. I have often heard people say, "I was at the low point in my life. I was strung out on drugs, I lost my job, my wife left me. One day I woke up lying in an alley in a pool of my own vomit. And at that point I cried out to God for help." I have never, ever heard someone say, "My life was going great. I had a good job, a beautiful wife, perfect health. And I realized that my previous unbelief was wrong, all these things were gifts from a good God, and so I turned to him in gratitude."
Note there are two common criticisms of Christianity: 1. Why doesn't God judge evil quickly and decisively? And 2. Why is God so harsh in judging evil? By putting them side by side like that I hope I make the contradiction obvious. When someone else wrongs us, we want God to swiftly destroy them. But when we wrong someone else, we want God to be patient and understanding.
If God DID judge all evil instantly, people would have no chance to repent. God is patient to give people time to repent.
It's not that God allows bad things to happen to good people. Bad things happen to good people because it is built into the system, the system that we call 'life.'