does God let bad things happen in the world?
question is probably as old as religion itself. It is a stumbling
block for some of us, and for many more at given moments of tragedy.
There are as many answers to this question as there are people
who care to engage in theological dialogue. One understanding
is that yes, God allows "bad" things to happen; God does not
cause them to happen.
Most "bad" things
which happen do so because God gives a radical freedom to God's
people; we are free people, not puppets on a string. But
God does not cause "bad" things to happen. God loves us and grieves
with us in our pain when "bad things" happen.
we might best respond by saying that God does not Will "bad" things
to happen in life. Rather, "bad" things happen in the freedom
that comes with the gift of life. When "bad" things happen to
any of God's children, God is grieved and suffers with us, experienced
most vividly in the hurt and suffering of Jesus the Christ for
all humanity. Any "bad" thing which happens is never the last
word. Rather, God is the deepest and last word, and that word
is love and eternal life with God.
Rev. Dr. Douglass M. Bailey
so many people, I have struggled with this question as it pertains
to my own life and the lives of others. Only by coming to terms
over time with something terribly sad in my life have I come
to understand the role God plays when human tragedies occur.
now feel that my God does not send bad things to punish us or
test us. In fact, God does not send them at all. Rather I sense
that there are powerful forces loose in the world, forces like
evil, disease and death.
is God's role in all this turmoil? If
God is not sending the disease, the accidents, the tragedies,
then why not, Zeus-like, step in and prevent them? For
me, this is a harder question. The experience of the individual
cries so clearly for divine intervention, for healing, for salvation
from emotional or physical pain. Although sometimes miraculous
healings do occur which suggest the presence of the Divine, in
my experience there generally is not much physical intervention.
the "intervention" I have experienced has been as powerful as
anything physical. I have grown certain that God actually mourns
these horrible events with us, that God is as sad, even more
so, about what is happening to me as I am. God's role, I have
felt, is to be "by my side," to understand me, to comfort me,
to "lead me beside still waters... [and] restore my soul" (from
Psalm 23) in the metaphorical "Valley of Death" which I face,
as does every other person in the world. Finally, and most importantly,
God's role is to help me heal on a daily basis- help me collect
the pieces broken by experience- help me become Whole again,
Whole as I was intended and created to be from the beginning
by this loving God.
a class I was attending recently, my rector said (and I paraphrase)
that faith is not an insurance policy, but a blanket of assurance
that God will be with us no matter what we encounter. He also
said-in response to someone's claim that the death of a baby
must have been the Will of God-that when our hearts break, God's
heart breaks also.
would never wish harm on any one of His beloved children. He
is always there with us, holding us in our deepest sorrows as
well as our wildest joys. I believe that, but I have not always
believed this way. I have drawn much comfort, reassurance and
a growing sense of peace from these two thoughts. Until
recently, I believed, on some level, that when something bad
happened to me (or to anyone) somehow I had done something wrong,
and I was being punished. Call it karma, bad
luck or "making my bed."
as a result of my growing understanding of the grace of God,
I am recreating my beliefs out of the idea that God is always
beside me, and loves me, and wishes me to know love without limits
and community without end. No matter what. He never wishes any
harm to visit me. Or, to borrow the essence of another of Doug's
teachings, God loves me as though I am the only child in the
world for God to love. The "me" is really "we" here, but first
I have to know the unlimited and unconditional nature of God
for myself. Only then can I be a witness to it in others. I now
know, without a doubt, that my God never wishes bad in the world.
Not for me. Not for anyone.
have heard some people say that all the bad things that happen
in the world prove that God does not exist. How could there be
a God, they wonder, who allows so much evil to take place? I
would answer these people by assuring them that God does exist
and He deeply cares about His children. He cares so much, in
fact, that He suffered crucifixion and death so that we might
believe suffering results from our separation from God. He is
holy, all-powerful, all-loving, all that is good. Each day I
find myself doing things that move me away from Him. Every time
I sin, the world becomes a little bit worse. I can do no good
thing apart from God. The more I separate myself from Him, the
more likely I am to cause someone else harm or pain.
me Christianity is about God seeking us out, calling us back
to him. In this life, we are separated from Him, so there will
be suffering. However, if we use this precious gift of life to
answer His call, He will deliver us into an eternity of peace.
He has given us a choice, but most of us choose to reject Him.