Jon for President!!

Why does Life stink?

This is the simplest way to put the question.  The technical version goes: “How can a Loving God allow evil in the world?” The everyday version has MANY ways of putting it. Why am I so lonely? Why can’t I find a husband (or wife)? Why can’t I get a better job? Why am I so poor? Why don’t others have to struggle as much as I do? Why doesn’t anybody like me? Why isn’t Life more satisfying?

Actually the everyday versions are easy to answer. That’s why we cheat a little bit when we ask them, because we know we can answer them with a little introspection. And even if we can’t answer them, there are hundreds of self-help books out there that will answer them for us. They are superficial questions. That’s why superficial “do this and live better” books are easy to write.

Now some blame society and culture for their plights, and so, frame the questions in ways they think are more profound. Why is there war? Why is there poverty and starvation in the world? Why do we allow torture to exist? Murder, rape, greed, abuse, oppression, deception, manipulation. Why, Why, Why?

Sadly, we cheat when we ask these questions as well. We already know the answers. We answer them externally when we point out that these are all acts of  human free will and it is in our power to change the world, whereupon we enter the arenas of politics or revolution. Or, we answer them internally when we admit these are but manifestations of the evil that is in all of us (me included).

And don’t get me wrong. These are all worthy questions to be asked. And the answers we come up with will portray our moral character, our maturity, and our creativeness. These questions need to be asked. They are how we grow.

But what happens if we pose the questions in a more fearful way? Ways which cannot be so easily answered. Why am I so homely? Why was I born THIS way? How can my mother get cancer? Why did my child have to die? Why is my sister schizophrenic? These questions hurt, even for me to write them down, they hurt. They are the questions underlying the superficial and societal questions. They are the stuff that philosophy and religion are made from.

When we at last ask the hard questions, God becomes part of the answer. “And why not? Isn’t it God’s fault if things exist which we can’t do anything about, or, if things happen which we have no control over?” Yes, it is. If God created it and God controls it, then it is ‘God’s fault’ that evil exists in the world. Tsunamis, brain cancer, birth defects, mental disorders, natural catastrophes… all of it… ‘God’s fault’.

And so at last we pose the question in its final form: “How can a Loving God allow evil in the world?” [especially evil that is happening to me]

The centuries are littered with attempts at answering this profound question. And obviously my little feeble paper will not satisfy every hurting heart or contemptuous mind. But here it goes anyway…

As I reflect on the answers of the years, it seems to me that, first and foremost, the point of view of the answerer will conjure up the answer. (I say “point of view”. I mean in the “heart of hearts”.)

The one without God will invoke science and philosophy and simply say that a moral-less Universe doesn’t owe an answer to a self absorbed Humanity. Science and advancement have already solved some of our evils. Science and advancement will eventually solve the rest. Behold the Human Genome Project, the Geneva Particle Collider, and the Hubble Space Telescope. Answers are on the way.

But these answers are cold comfort for someone who wants peace of heart NOW. Nor do they really satisfy because we KNOW, somehow, that this is a moral Universe, and that “evil” is not a figment of human consciousness.

The Religious Moralist will rationalize and minimize and sympathize. “Well, you know, it could be worse. You could be _________, like so and so.” Or, “God cares. In Heaven all things will be made right.” Or, “You know, God has a purpose and plan for everyone. This which has happened to you God can turn for the good if you will let Him.”

Soft words which are meant to soothe and console, but later the doubt and fear creep back. Optimism, acceptance, and resignation have the appearance of wisdom, but lack the conviction that God really can change things if He wants to.

Then there’s the Religious Rigorist: “Are you so ungrateful for what you do have? That you can even pose such a question is a gift from God. Really, quit feeling sorry for yourself and get busy living. Even a Life with limited or unfortunate choices is still a life of unlimited possibilities.”

But however true this might be, our heart still longs for meaning. If He is a Loving God, why can’t I feel His Love? Why does He seem so far away?

Job asked this same question. And his “friends” had plenty of good answers. Even the late arriving Elihu ascended to a higher level with his answers. But, alas, poor Job was still unsatisfied. And then God answered out of the whirlwind and plied him with questions impossible for him to answer. And in so doing, God convinced Job that some answers transcend our ability to understand. Whereupon Job repented and was satisfied that God knows the answers and that that is enough.

Among lessons we get from Job is that it is alright to ask the irreverent questions as long as we ask in faith and accept the fact that sometimes we won’t get the true answer because it is larger than our heads can contain.

But there’s more…

“And as He passed by, He saw a man blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he should be born blind? Jesus answered, Neither did this man sin, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.”

Jesus healed that man. Jesus heals today. But most of the time, divine physical healing is denied us. But our Lord’s answer is still the same, “But that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” If you are a Christian, never quit praying for healing or deliverance from a sorrowful situation. God always answers prayer. But always add to your prayers, “Be Thou glorified.” Glorified by your continuing firm faith in Him. Glorified by your cheerful attitude while you wait for your miracle. Glorified by your confidence in His Love even if you are denied your miracle (in this Life). Don’t worry that you don’t have enough strength or faith to do this. That’s why God put His Holy Spirit in you, to help you do this.

Your Life is no longer your own. It belongs to someone else. It was rescued (ransomed, really) from the Judgment for your sins. It is no longer under Satan’s dominion. God owns it. Let Him be glorified in it. Whatever way He deems best. Don’t fret, just trust.

Now, if the Christian answer doesn’t appeal to you (which includes repentance, forgiveness, and Jesus), you still have all those other wonderful answers the world wants you to believe. So, do a “soul check”, and pick one. Pick two. It doesn’t matter. If it gets you through to the grave, do it.

But you have my sympathy. The World lies. You don’t believe it? Turn on your television and see what deceptions are passing for advertising and entertainment. Satan lies too (it’s his specialty). Even our own heart deceives us.

I counsel you to consider if the Bible is true, and if Jesus is really who Christians claim Him to be. Because I believe that a soul-satisfying contentment with ANY answer is a work of the Holy Spirit which only can be had by that same above mentioned repentance, forgiveness, and Jesus. May God be with you as you consider these things.

       

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