Sunday, August 7, 2016
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?
I saw this photo today on Facebook, evidently placed there to show the perceived absurdity of belief in God, and felt compelled to add my own thoughts on the topic. Assuming it is real, and not just some twisted Photoshop troll getting his or her jollies, here is what I see happening in this photo.
Where was God during those last dying days as this child suffered from starvation, with a vulture patiently waiting for his last breath? He was there. It's the age-old question that constantly tasks belief in God and religion ... "Why do bad things happen to good people?" People of faith know there is no promise made of a life free of challenge, and often tragedy as well. We have ALL seen terrible things happen in our own lives and to our loved ones ... horrible and untimely deaths, gruesome accidents, victims of violent crimes ... these happen all the time. And they happen to all kinds of people, from atheists right up to the most faithful of believers.
I have several friends who have lost children, and I can't think of anything more terrible than that. I fear for that loss myself every day, especially now that I have grandchildren. But do I think God deserted these friends in their time of need, or that He is punishing them for some wrong doing? Definitely not. I think many people are too focused on this world, and not on the promised eternity to come. Those children, I believe, were welcomed into heaven. A relative of mine died not too long ago, and in telling a co-worker she replied I didn't seem too upset over it. I told her this person lived in constant pain and was now free of that, so there is nobody happier at the moment than she was and I rejoiced over that. I felt grief for the family she left behind, naturally, who were feeling that loss but I think even they accepted the belief that she was in a better place.
One of my biggest turning points in my own belief was one day when many good things happened to me all at once, and I stopped to ask for a sign that God was really there granting me all of these boons. A local church's flyer was delivered to me shortly thereafter inviting me to their upcoming meeting analyzing the evidence of Jesus' existence in our lives. That was something I dared not miss. The pastor leading the meeting had many valid points, including the lack of a burial point to visit and the words of several different eye witnesses in the New Testament, but the part that really drove it home for me was the consideration of what we would rather believe in ... that Jesus was the true Son of God, or that He was a fraud? Belief in Him, and following in His ways, leads to a better and more fulfilling lifestyle. Lack of belief leaves a void. And I would certainly rather be a believer now and find out I was wrong, than be a nonbeliever now and find out that was wrong!
So how does someone come to have true faith? Bible reading is great, but faith is not something you can learn from a book alone. I used to lead a Bible study group, but it always seemed many in the group wanted simple answers rather than to be inspired to think on their own. I tried to teach them to fish, rather than simply giving them a fish, but many wanted to just take their fish and run. Too many people attend church with the same goal -- get the quick cure and get back to life. But faith is not something that can be taught by instruction alone, and it's not something that comes easily. It is a belief that you have to feel inside your heart, not in your head, and something not everyone at every stage of life is open to finding. It is a very introspective aspect that can take years -- if ever -- to find. While the words "born again" have certainly taken on different meanings over the years, with some religions actually condemning persons who they don't perceive as their own version of "born again," there is a definitely a threshold crossed as you acknowledge the reception of that belief in a higher power.
That is something I hope the poster of the photo will find someday. At the same time, I don't condemn my friend for posting that, nor would I end that friendship for that difference of opinion. I hope he respects my point of view as I respect his.
And as for whether the photo caption writer really had God with her during her kitchen activities is open to question, but if she feels moved to give thanks and praise for having just the amount of milk, hallelujah to her. It is right to give Him thanks and praise, and if you find that movement in the kitchen then good for you! For myself, I'm more inclined to think God was with us the winter night my daughter spun our car in circles heading down an icy hill only to have us somehow stop on the side of the road mid-hill unscathed. Or the time I rolled a car over and skidded down the roadway upside down, crawled out, and had the paramedics around me in disbelief that I survived the crash uninjured. Or the time I aided a collapsed medical emergency victim with a paramedic giving me instructions from behind me, only to find out later nobody else saw that person.
But if God is with you in the kitchen, feel free to sing those praises as well!