Why, God?

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A friend from high school is watching someone near and dear to her in the final stages of life, and it’s enough of a burden on her—someone who is always upbeat and positive—that she posted something on Facebook about it. In her post, she struggles to reconcile the belief that we can do good as long as we’re breathing with the suffering that she’s witnessing. She says that this can’t be how it’s supposed to be, and wanted an explanation someday.

I have a big mouth.

So I volunteered what I thought on the subject in a response. Since then, several other people have replied that they had needed to hear these words, too. I thought I would share them here so that others can read them, and hopefully they may help.

Remembering that I’m no theologian and I’m not a pastor, that I’m just a Christian, a husband, a father, and an engineer, here’s what I wrote:

First, I’m sorry things aren’t going well for someone near you. Same here. It’s all the tougher when something happens during this season. It just plain sucks.

As to your other ponderings, them’s a toughie. You can either explain it with lots of theological mumbo-jumbo or make it simple enough that even I can understand it. I prefer the latter. Here it goes, hope this helps:

I am glad that God didn’t create evil. He couldn’t—He’s all perfect and stuff like that. Instead, He let us do what we wanted to do from the very beginning, and being given free will, we created evil by removing Him from parts of our existence.

Think about darkness for a moment and recognize that it’s an absence of light—it’s not a real “thing” as much as it’s a thing caused by the lack of something real. (It would be interesting, though, if it were: we’d have darkbulbs in aisle 10 next to lightbulbs.) Just like a vacuum isn’t a “thing,” but is something caused by the lack of gunk to fill the void. So, too, evil is not a real “thing” but is the absence of good, and all the good stuff there is comes from God (James 1:17).

And when the door is opened to the bad stuff (thanks, Mr. Adam and Mrs. Eve), it gets busy and wrecks stuff for us. Always has, always will. It kills people. It breaks up marriages. It finds ways to make our days really, really crappy in ways that we haven’t even thought of.

But I’m with [another correspondent to the original post]. Whatever is going on is no surprise to Him. He saw it coming, and He will make good use of it to serve His purposes and work out well for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Do we necessarily know how it will work out? No. Do we know when it will work out? No. Sometimes we see the results, other times… not. It may happen in our lifetimes, and it may not. Why not? Dunno’, but the Bible says it’s going to work out, so I have to believe that.

Why can’t he just fix everything? I suppose He could, but He chose not to make us automatons, robots, doing just good stuff. Instead, He lets us screw up at will. Makes things a lot more interesting that way, I suppose.

So, “Why, God?” Why free will? Why let us do what we want to? Why let us push Him out of our ways? Why not make everything perfect? My answer is, “We don’t know.” The Bible doesn’t answer these questions. Instead, we are told that the ends justify the means, and we’re not told what the big plan is in the first place. I think it’s a little presumptuous for us to think that we could understand all of what He has in His plans. You know, He’s infinite, and we’re a bit smaller than that. If He answered the question “Why?” to us, I’m thinking our collective brains would explode. “YOU WANT THE TRUTH?! YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” comes to mind.

I’d still like to try understanding His answer. It would be really, really interesting.

All that having been said, it doesn’t make it any easier for us to watch others endure circumstances which are distinctly not good. But it does make it easier to focus on bringing Him into the situation if we can get away from the angry “You’re not such a loving God after all, are you?!” phase and move to the “OK, so be it, now… HELP! (Please.)” phase. Just like it’s hard to make up and be nice with [your husband] if you’re still mad at him after an argument. Get past the argument, and you can make up. Get past the blame game, and you can ask God to do just about anything.

And He’ll listen and He will answer. Maybe not with the answer we expect, but with an answer that suits His plans, and we know that His plans are good.

Again, I’m sorry things aren’t all well, and hope that I’ve been of a teensy bit of help. I’m no theologian, and these things might all be wrong. I’ve picked up bits and pieces here and there and assembled them into my engineer’s way of thinking—some settling may have occurred during shipping and handling. And they may not have helped at all. But if they have, then my Christmas has been made a bit brighter, and so has yours.

Merry Christmas,
Bill

Merry Christmas, everybody.

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