Last week at church we had a Bible study after worship. And one of the church members participating came up with great questions to a lot of real problems. Basically, we talked about what all great theologians struggle to answer and that is, “why does bad things happen to good people or to people who undeserve such catastrophes.
This should be a question that all Christians should struggle with because it challenges our notion of God and God’s relationship in the world. How we answer it really determines our concept of God. So, the basic problem in Christian theology and faith is as such:
God is all good/loving
God is all powerful
God is all knowing
So, the problem is that evil and sin exist in the world and why should this happen when we have a God who is all loving and good and all powerful? Shouldn’t that, by God’s nature, abolish sin and evil? Good question to ponder on a Wednesday!
If we say that God is unable to stop evil, such as the atrocity that killed children in the Ukraine by Russian rockets, or the person dying of cardiac arrest, who has served their church and community whole-heartedly. If God cannot prevent this from happening, then it would assume that God is not all powerful.
And if we say that God allows evil to exist then God is not all that loving at all! Or if we say that God is unaware when evil and sin affect the innocent then God is not al knowing. Which begs to wonder, if God is not all loving, all powerful, or all knowing, then is God really deserving of worship?
Now when I say innocent, I am assuming that all people are sinful. However, when a baby is abandoned in the hospital or in the street, that’s incredibly tragic. When children are bombed, that’s heartbreaking. When a person that has striven to make a world a better place but is diagnosed with cancer, that just seems unfair. What I am trying to say is bad things happen to good people all the time because the fact remains that evil and sin exist.
So how do we tackle this issue? As Christians what answers can we give to our fallen world? The problem for me is simply this. One is the gift of free will and our own unawareness of “the big picture.” I will do the best to explain. And even these two things I mentioned is not something that will make us comfortable at all.
God is all loving, I truly believe this because I felt it before. I felt it when I read, see, feel, or experience something that moves my heart, or even breaks it. I can sense that emotions swelling all around me. I know that God not just loves me but loves the entire world. I have experienced His forgiveness and grace countless of times. God is always going to love us. And when you truly love someone, you never imprison them for any reason. Even if imprisoning them for their own safety. God allows us to be free and allows us to live life how we see fit. For example, in the United States we have the right and freedom to own firearms. And yes, even though firearms can kill someone, we have the right and freedom to own them. By owning a firearm, we have the choice of being responsible and the choice to educated ourselves and others about gun safety. I am not saying that guns and good or bad, guns and guns. You see I realize each day I love my wife dearly. However, my love for her does not shield her from the possible pain that she may experience. For example, last year, she had to go to class during a bad winter storm. Now, to be safe, to keep her safe, I could have said, “No! You must stay home! You will get hurt!” But she needed to go, and all I can do is pray. She got into a head-on collision because of icy roads. I do believe that my prayers not just helped her survive, but all helped her come out of the accident basically untouched. Can’t say that for the car, but that’s fine.
Same thing for my children. I love them and would do anything for them. But I know that they must go to school, they have to experience the outside world. I can teach them the boundaries of the dangers of the world, but they will still get hurt at some point. When I tell my son not to touch the hot stove, he did it anyways and got burned. But instead of yelling and scolding him for not listening, I held him in my arms and tended his wound.
You see what love can do? Now I could take my children and my wife and lock them in a cage with nothing to harm them, no germs, no disease, no options of food, no options of play, no option to meet other people; just lock them in a cage or basement so that they cannot escape. They will be safe, I can provide always nutritional food and vitamins, clean water, proper clothes, totally sanitized, and provide learning tools that are only safe. Is that the right way to do things? Is that really love? Or is that fear? It sounds like living in fear more than love to me.
God is not a God of fear. God loves us and chooses to give us free will. As much as it might hurt us seeing us fall and suffer, at least we can count on Him to pick us back up even if we feel anger towards Him, He will always still love you. He understands you.
Also, we fail to see the “big picture.” Imagine our universe is like many small stars exploding. When a star explodes it is violent and impactful. When the explosion is set, we are left seeing this incredible sight of a nebula, that puts us in awe and wonder. Imagine when sin and evil impact or lives, is tragic, sometimes it is violent, but we never know the impact it takes on us. Sure, it may seem inevitable that our life is going to get worse, but that is the choice that we make. When we lose someone dear to us, it hurts us, we feel regret, we feel powerless, but the question to ask yourself is what you are going to do with your life to honor that person you just loved. I do not think the person you lost likes to see you struggling and living life in pain and being bitter. They too, like God, wants to see you thrive.
We often do not realize how fragile our world is and that everything that happens has a reason, regardless of it being good or bad. Even the smallest flap of a butterfly wing can change the course of history. It reminds me of the story of Job in the Bible. When Job, a good man suffers an incredible amount of tragedy. For the most part in the book, He stayed faithful, all the way until the end, when he confronts and gets angry with God. God responds to Job by telling Him you don’t know anything; you weren’t there when the universe was created. Basically, God is telling Job, that the universe is fragile, and you are not the center of it all. I know life stinks for you, but it doesn’t always have to be that. There is a lot of things going on “out there” and around you, and you have no idea how big of an impact would be made with a small change.
If God could just stop those missiles from landing on children in Ukraine, for the world to see, would the world be a better place? Would everyone just believe that God exist? I am not too sure that would happen. I think religious fanatics would use such a display to further their corruption of the religion. Try to create their own order and structure in the name of God.
The suffering will always remain, damage will happen in the world and in our lives. So, it is up to us. Remember Jesus told the disciples that all the power of heaven is given to you. Go town to town to exorcise demons, heal the sick, and feed the hungry. That message is given to us today. The powers of heaven are given to us to do the same. Instead of creating havoc and pain, use the gifts that God gave you to be compassionate to others, be the healing hands of a damaged world, and an example of peace to all you encounter. Jesus tells us if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can move mountains. Let today be the day that we move mountains.
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).