That one question

head scratchAs a Christ follower, I sometimes come across people who are…less than accepting of my beliefs. Believe it or not, there are some people out that who are against Christianity and who believe it is a bunch of B.S.

I know, I was surprised too.

Actually, a good part of 70% of the world has rejected the idea of God coming to earth in the form of Jesus and dying for our sins, then conquering death, rising again and ascending into heaven thus giving us the opportunity to have a relationship with our creator. Or, they’ve just never heard of the idea and have never been offered the choice to accept God’s gift to us.

But let us focus on those that have rejected the idea. If you are a believer, you have certainly run into these people at school, work, the gym, the supermarket, or a monster truck jam. And some of you out there, like me (although not nearly enough), have engaged in conversation about the differences in your beliefs. There are a number of questions that one regularly gets, but there is ONE question that I really don’t like to try to field. Perhaps you know that one I am talking about…

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

I usually want them to define what they mean by bad things, although it is quite obvious. But, if we really look at it, there are two things that I think fall into the “bad things” category.

Suffering and sin.

Suffering is all the stuff we see in the news. Its the kids being shot in their schools. It’s terrorist attacks. It’s the constant struggles between people and nations. It’s the bullying, corporate greed, layoffs, joblessness, homelessness, and hunger that we seem unable to control or fix regardless of how many late night infomercials tell us we can save the world by giving up a cup of coffee a day.

Sin is the stuff we do that we know is wrong. It is our impulsive behaviors. It’s the reason we have to make the same New Year’s resolution every year. It’s the stuff we hope no one ever finds out about us. It’s our secrets. It’s our perversions. It’s what holds us back from having the relationships that we desire, both with God and our neighbors.

We look out and see suffering in the world, and we look inward and see sin in ourselves.

If God is good and he is with/for us, then why does Good allow suffering and sin?

Now come the part when I have to give an answer. I don’t know if it is the right answer, or if it is even a good answer, but after wrestling with the question for a while, this is what I have come up with.

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

He doesn’t. There is suffering in the world and sin in ourselves because we want it that way. God has given us every opportunity to live a joyful life free of suffering. All he asks is that we choose to live that way. And we, his perfect creation, choose to live a life that denies ourselves and others of that joy and peace.

He created us perfect and gave us free will. He gave us a garden where we could live in perfect relationship with him forever. We chose to leave the garden and move into a world that was against us. Then, he came down to this little planet, took on the form of a man so that we could learn to relate to him, how to talk to him, and how to follow him. He died on a cross, paid the price for all our sins, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Yet, from the moment he did all that, we chose to turn our backs on him, to deny his existence, to deny that he fulfilled the purpose he promised he would fulfill.

2000 years later…

We choose, everyday, to ignore him, turn away from him, and defy him. Bad things happen because God has kept his promise of free will. Bad things happen because we make bad choices.

It’s not God, it’s us.

So the real question is, why do we allow bad things to happen?

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6 thoughts on “That one question

    1. I’m not sure which earthquake you are referring to, and I don’t want to sound cold-hearted towards the death of children, but off the top of my head, I could answer your question a number of ways.

      1. I don’t recall mentioning natural disasters in my post. I was pretty deliberate about that as I believe that is a post all in itself.

      2. We cannot know all the plans that God has for this world. We are limited in our perspective because we are here on earth, plagued by our own sins and the sins committed towards us. God, being outside space and time, can see the lifespan of our universe in an instant, or spend a thousand years inside a moment. Why children die, or anyone for that matter, as a result of natural disasters, is beyond me.

      3. Yes, it’s our fault. I would imagine that the children you speak of are living in a third world country, ignored by the rest of the world until something like an earthquake happens.. Why didn’t we do more to protect them? Why weren’t we there helping them to build solid foundations for homes, schools, churches, agricultural, etc. Why do we focus so much on saving money or spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need? Why do we need the latest gadgets and newest cars, the biggest TVs, and best clothes when millions and millions of people are starving and living with virtually nothing? I’m guilty of this just as much as the rest of the world. If we had done our part and loved our neighbors as we love ourselves, then perhaps these children would not have died.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment and I hope I was able to answer your question.

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  1. “1. I don’t recall mentioning natural disasters in my post. I was pretty deliberate about that as I believe that is a post all in itself.”

    Correct. But when many people bring up the problem of evil, they include natural disasters. In fact, they work more in favor of the argument than the actions of people.

    “We cannot know all the plans that God has for this world.”

    Then why do you claim to know that he exists, is all-good, and won’t prevent sin from happening?

    Can YOU know all the plans?

    “If we had done our part and loved our neighbors as we love ourselves, then perhaps these children would not have died.”

    And sometimes natural disasters take place in first world countries, and children are still killed for no good reason.

    If I had omnipotence, I would prevent natural disasters from happening. If your god exists, and has omnipotence, he does not prevent natural disasters from happening.

    Which, as far as I can tell, makes me more moral.

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    1. 1. Natural disasters – I suppose there is also an argument for global warming. Are WE causing natural disasters because of the way we treat the earth that God has provided for us?

      2. No. I cannot know all the plans God has for me, us, or this world. That is why I stated in my post, “I don’t know if it is the right answer, or if it is even a good answer, but after wrestling with the question for a while, this is what I have come up with.”

      And, in Isaiah 55:8 we learn this about God, “‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the LORD. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.'”

      I know He exists because I sought Him out and found Him. I know he exists, because I can hear His voice. I know He exists because I can feel His love; his grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

      3. You’re more moral than the God who created morality? That’s fantastic. I’ve never met anyone who has never lied, cheated, stolen, or who never put there own wants/desires ahead of God’s or their neighbor’s. Congratulations, you’re the first…aside from Jesus.

      If you are genuinely looking for answers regarding the existence of God, then I would like to suggest picking up a Bible and reading. If that doesn’t interest you, then perhaps try, Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell. That book helped me a lot. Or one of his other books, Unshakable Truth. you could also go a little more old school and read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I can promise you though, if you seek Him, you will find Him.

      Again, I appreciate you taking the time to not only read this post, but to comment as well.

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  2. “I’ve never met anyone who has never lied, cheated, stolen, or who never put there own wants/desires ahead of God’s or their neighbor’s. Congratulations, you’re the first…aside from Jesus.”

    I never said I was perfect.

    But I also never killed everyone on Earth except for 8 people in a boat. I also never constructed a whip and beat some money changers until they ran away.

    If morality means anything, it’s not hard to be more moral than that.

    If morality only means ‘the strongest thing gets to decide what morality is’, then it’s meaningless anyway.

    “If you are genuinely looking for answers regarding the existence of God, then I would like to suggest picking up a Bible and reading. ”

    I have read it, cover to cover. One of the things that helped me on my path to atheism.

    And I sought him. And had zero response. So, clearly, you’re wrong.

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    1. That’s too bad. Perhaps someone smarter than me can help you find the answers you are looking for.

      For me, I finally realized that I couldn’t completely understand God or His ways. If I could, then He wouldn’t be much of a God. I’m still working on putting my trust in Him completely. But, each day, I feel like I get a little bit closer…or at least I hope I do.

      I will end with this from Luke 15:4…

      “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?”

      My prayer will be that God go and look for all His lost sheep and that those lost sheep find the desire to be found.

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