Christmas Message: Why So Many Bad Things in the World?
I often hear some version of the following from believers (Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc ) as well as non-believers: "How can a loving God allow so many bad things to happen in the world?" I remember a passage in Steve Jobs' biography which retold the story of young Jobs rejecting faith when he challenged his Lutheran pastor about God allowing children to starve in Africa. Countless others have wondered how a loving God could allow the Holocaust, major wars, cancer in young people, broken families, and the list goes on.
Why so much suffering if God loves us and His creation?
I think the answer is Love.
Have you even been in a "loving" relationship where another person tries to control you? Whether it's a parent, in-law, spouse, or friend, control and manipulation done in the name of love repel people. My mother has a favorite saying that goes something like this: "If you clip children's wings they will walk away, but if you give children their wings they will gladly fly home."
Authentic love attracts people. This is God's love.
His love can be freely accepted by any person at any time. Sadly, many souls don't accept this love, or trust it at all times. However, God doesn't force His love on us (because it wouldn't be authentic). God doesn't try to control us.
He gives us free choice. You can't have real love without free choice.
Free choice includes the option to reject His love as well as the ability to make all other sorts of decisions, good and bad. I do believe that God has a plan and, in the end, good will win out over bad, but I don't believe He knows when we are born how every second of our lives will unfold. Such knowledge would speak of control, and we would be mere puppets. No, I think God literally turns us loose, and we make a lot of bad choices. It's called sin. Wars, famine, crime, and other injustices assault humanity on a continual basis. We do it to ourselves. However, God keeps offering His love.
As a Christian, I believe love came to us in the form of a child. Jesus was (and is) love personified. However, to read the account of Christ's life is not a tale of a tyrant or dictator with an iron grip on His subjects, but, instead a story of a loving man whose life was given to show us a better way.
My son (who just turned 13) is in confirmation class at our Lutheran church, and our nine-year old daughter will soon follow. Sometimes Will and Claire squawk about Sunday school and going to church, and I tell our kids that a relationship with God and faith are the most important gifts we can give them. Faith in a Loving God is the only thing that transcends this existence. The rest of the junk stays here....
Unfortunately, many souls struggle with faith, especially with so much suffering in the world. Maybe this describes you? I hope this column has given you some peace. Perhaps, you can forward this essays to others? The existence of bad stuff is not some sort of proof that God doesn't exist (as many Atheists claim). It's the opposite...the bad stuff is evidence that God's love is real. We're not puppets because God's love is authentic. His brand of love is willing to accept rejection, but He never quits, despite the bad decisions we make every day and the consequences that follow. That kind of love is the best Christmas present, ever.
Peace to you and your family this holiday season.
Doug Wojcieszak, Founder
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