GLS: Why Do Bad Things Happen…

….If God Is So Good??? Have you ever asked yourself this question? I believe this is a very relevant question, that many of us have faced in our personal journeys to and through our own faith and belief systems. Especially in the wake of the disaster in Haiti. In all honesty it is a great question. One that has plagued humanity for, well, for forever. I don’t think I know a single person who has not encountered this question. I’ve asked this question myself and had people question me with this as their defense in why they don’t “get” my belief. Completely reasonable to do so as well.

So, today’s Good Life Sunday (aka GLS) is based off of the sermon today at my church that discussed this important faith question. It was a very strong sermon that can really get all of us thinking so I would love to share it with all of you. I know my GLS posts don’t get the kinds of comments or views that other posts do, but I can’t keep this message to myself. I beg of you that you all will read through this and share your own thoughts on this (openly and honestly, I have no fear ;)) and that it will be beneficial to us all.

Now on to the meat. Why do bad things happen if God is so good?? There are many attempts to answer this dilemma. On the one side is that evil and suffering are proof that there is no good or loving God. No God at all. He doesn’t exist…all the bad that happens is just the way the world works and natural. But, I can’t see it that way. Not only for the fact that I don’t understand how someone can live without hope, but because what does that mean about all the good in the world. And honestly, despite the headlines and negativity, there is still a LOT of good in our world. Just consider Haiti. Look at the outpouring of love from all over the world that resulted in this disaster. So, as Saint Augustine put it:

If there is no God, why is there so much good?

Now onto side #2. This side claims that God allows suffering so that it can strengthen us and develop our faith. Kind of like the whole “that which does not kill me only makes me stronger” idea. Many of us have had our greatest periods of growth due to a period of difficulty. If you have been through a challenge and come out the other side, you have a renewed sense of strength, hope, and faith. Persevere through something that tries you and you will undoubtedly have a stronger character. The same idea is considered a relevant answer to why God allows bad things to happen. Early 1900’s author and theologian C. S. Lewis describes God’s communication in such a way:

God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts to us in our pains! It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

It is so true that many of us, despite our beliefs, can probably be found saying a prayer during a traumatic or hurtful event in our lives. God most certainly wants to bring us closer to us, and some claim that He will use disaster to do so.

Our pastor Stuart Green, of my beloved Sugarloaf UMC, brought up turned this double sided answer on it’s head. What if, there is not supposed to be an answer? What if instead of asking WHY we are supposed to ask WHAT? Instead of asking WHY do bad things happen? WHY are you putting me through this, God? WHY WHY WHY? … what if we ask WHAT are we to learn from this? WHAT do you want to help me/us to  accomplish from this God? WHAT can be the greater purpose of this? Consider this – if we had a definitive answer, would it change a thing? Would there no longer be heartache, suffering, pain, death, disaster? No! So what benefit is there to having an answer to why? There can be a benefit, however, if we have an answer to WHAT.

It is similar to how Jesus healed the blind, deaf, sick. He didn’t just give them an answer as to why they were suffering and send them on their way. Instead he cured them. So, instead of explaining to us why there is suffering, God helps to give us a new perspective of hope in times of suffering and, in turn, can help cure the pain. This doesn’t mean that God allows the suffering or causes it. It simply means that in the face of hard times, if we look through the lens of faith, if we try to look through Jesus’ eyes, we can see new possibilities. We can see some meaning and the good that is possible to bring to or take from the situation. Just like the millions of people across the world who have pooled funds and resources to provide aide to those in Haiti, there can be possibilities in disaster. How many of you have heard of MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)? This program was started by two women who lost their child to a drunk driver. They took the hardship and found a way to bring good from it and help others. It does not make their loss any less. It doesn’t mean what happened wasn’t bad. It just shows that there is always possibility for good, depending on how you approach a situation. Faith in God can give us a way to understand the suffering.

You might wonder why God can’t just make it all stop? If he is all powerful and almighty, then why can’t he make it stop. Well, because we have free will. Which He gave to us. He doesn’t want these things to happen either, but He has to allow mistakes to be made and hardships to occur. Otherwise, we would never be able to truly appreciate the complexity that is life. Imagine a life with no hurt. Then, how would you truly value joy? Suffering is part of life, and we need to learn the benefits of trusting God in it.

I’ll close with these two things my pastor said that really hit home the point of his sermon:

1) INSTEAD OF ASKING “WHEN THERE IS A GOD, WHY IS THERE SUFFERING?” … ASK INSTEAD… “WHEN THERE IS SUFFERING, WHY IS THERE A GOD?”

2) WE CANNOT UNDERSTAND EVERYTHING, BUT WE CAN STAND UNDER ANYTHING THANKS TO GOD AND HIS STRENGTH. He will never leave us. Nothing can separate us from His love. We are not meant to understand everything. All we are meant to do is trust in Him and love. I can promise you that it will lead to a full and abundant life, despite any circumstances.

Do you believe that you can’t always control what happens to you, but that you can always control how you react? Does that bring you peace? Or frustration?

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6 Responses to GLS: Why Do Bad Things Happen…

  1. Lauren says:

    First, to answer your question, yes I definitely believe that I can’t control what happens to me, but that I can control how I react. This certainly brings peace. My husband reminds me of this when something really frustrates me and I’ll pathetically say, “I’m in such a bad mood” (with him or something else!) I think God speaks through him when he reminds me that “I can choose to not be in a bad mood.” Uh. So true, but not always what I want to hear! 🙂 Also, this world has so much evil in it, and I know that it makes me want to be on God’s team even more, fighting evil, and helping others to grow closer to God. Thanks for being so honest and sharing this with us!

  2. julie says:

    hmm good question. i believe that i can’t control exactly what happens to me but i can control the path i take. for example i can’t control if i get sick or not but i can do everything possible to try and prevent getting sick!

    great question girl 🙂

  3. LOVE this post. I have only struggled with my faith a bit in my life but have grown up with a very strong one. It still boggles my mind why certain things happen to certain people. I find that my reaction to things DOES help the situation and I try to use that method in my everyday life.

  4. kbwood says:

    girl this is GREAT!! sooo great for people who may be strugging with their faith or questioning. ive had many people ask me this question and its such a hard thing for some to grasp but i believe that the Lord is so faithful and He makes good come out of EVERYTHING-we just have to have faith and keep clinging onto Him through it all!!
    thank you for sharing this love!

  5. Vee says:

    I enjoyed reading this post but could not comment straight away as I had to think about the question for a while. I love when people make me think! 🙂
    We can’t always control what happens. It’s a fact. I used to rock climb and when I was out there on the mountain, I was aware of two risks – calculated vs. uncalculated risk. The calculated one means that you will do all you can to survive that climb. You will prepare for the worst possible weather, check your ropes, get the right food, work on your fitness and pack up emergency phone. Yet there is that uncalculated risk. You can be prepared for the weather yet there could be an avalanche that nobody suspected and was not supposed to happen. Your phone, no matter how well it’s suppose to function, fails and you are stuck there with no way of contacting the outside world.. It’s the uncalculated risk we all have to accept and even when we are prepared for everything we have to stay humble and keep the possibility of failing in our hearts. I don’t mind not being in control as long as I know I have done my best. 🙂

  6. Jenna says:

    Hey!
    I just came across your blog and I can’t wait to read it and follow!
    I would love it if you could check out mine and follow:)
    Jenna

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