Monday, April 25, 2011

The Nature of God (Part 1) - Why do bad things happen to good people?

"Easter" has come and gone. To many it is a day of bunnies, eggs and chocolate. But to us, Christians, it is a day of celebration because our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, died for our sins and rose again victorious.

Sorry. I have to apologize. I know that.. .to someone who is not a believer, perhaps it all sounds a bit odd and confusing. Yet that is the only way to write about it. There are many questions that this would bring up to people who do not believe in Christ. How do we know that Jesus is really the Son of God? If he is God, why does he have to die for sins?
I do not wish to touch upon these things just yet.
But today I wanted to write about a very special aspect of this: The Nature of God.

Last time, I wrote about whether or not God exists. This time, assuming you believe that God does exist, you might now wonder... what kind of God is he?
People say God is good. Is he really? People say God loves us. Does he really?
I think a lot of people are very confused about the nature of God. And so... it is my duty to try to explain this as simple as I can in the Christian way of thinking. However, I am sure it will still be confusing.

I think this statement is both popular and fitting for the topic:
"Why do bad things happen to good people?" When we say this, it's usually because we want to add something else to it. "If God is real... If God is good... If God loves us..."
If God is real, good and truly loves us, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people?
Surely bad people should just have bad things happen to them. And good people should have awesome lives in which only good things happen to them. That would make life amazing.
Be good. Get rewarded. Be bad. Get punished.
Then everyone will want to be good!

First of all, I want to say that the statement is very subjective. What is good and what is bad? We humans usually have a general idea of these things. The Good? Having everything your heart desires. Being comfortable and happy. Having lots of friends. The Bad? Tragedy, illness, crime, war, and death.
I don't want to pretend that bad things don't happen. They happen.
I can't ignore that.
You see it on the news all the time.
A natural disaster devastates an area and people lose loved ones and their homes. Some evil people go so far as to exploit and use people to satisfy their own selfish, wicked desires.
Does that mean that God is not good? Does that mean he does not care?
I don't think so.
After all, you need to see the bad to understand the good. If you were never hungry, would you understand hunger? If you were always rich, would you understand what it means to be poor? You can look and observe other peoples' circumstances, but until you experience the bad, you cannot appreciate the good. And more importantly, you need to see the sin... to understand God.

What is this truth that can be revealed by the terrible things of the world? Sin exists. Look at humans and look at the world around them. Why are we so different from the animals? A species of animal will be bound to the instincts of that particular species. Whether they will have one mate or multiple mates is not up to them, but up to their "design." But humans are different. We can choose. Do we want to love and marry one person? Do we want to love and marry more? Do we not want to marry at all and either be promiscuous or chaste?

That is not all. Animals only kill to either feed themselves or protect themselves. Humans may kill another for a wide variety of reasons (love, hate, protecting their reputation). Even if some humans may steal out of need and hunger, many humans will still steal just because they can (looting during crisis and chaos). 

Choice is not a sin. But through their choices you can see sin. Even if you believe that humans are naturally good, you cannot also deny the fact that there is so much evil in this world. People will lie, cheat and steal. They will hate and discriminate based on nationality, gender, race or religion. There are "good" people in this world. I don't want to make it sound like it's all bad. But I just want to drive home the fact that good people... are not always good people.

"Why do bad things happen to good people?"
Do all murderers and serial killers look the part? If it were that simple, they'd all be caught! No--people can hide their true selves, they can hide behind a mask, behind a lie. The only way to convict someone of a crime is through evidence, not by appearances. Appearances are deceiving!

Then who are these good people that you speak of? You do not know everything about a man. You cannot claim that those people who look good are good. They may give to charity, may say wonderful compliments, but still could be rotten on the inside. That man/woman you think is perfect may loathe their own selves!
Then who are these good people? Are you perhaps... referring to yourself?
Do you consider your own self to be good? Interesting.
I won't judge you. I am not the judge. I have no qualifications to deem one person good or evil.
Then... who does? If God exists and he makes the rules, I'd say he has the authority for such things.
Your word against his.

You know what? Let's throw out the original question. Perhaps it doesn't reveal our situation in the first place.
It is no longer a matter of "Why do bad things happen to good people?"
The real question is: "Why does sin happen to everyone?"
And the answer is... because sin helps us understand the nature of God. And no, it's not because it shows that God is evil. Think about this. Life could always be worse. You could be homeless, starving, with a terrible illness, blind, deaf, mute, and without any arms or legs. Life could always be worse. Hitler could have won World War 2. Life could always be worse. Instead of Christians preaching hope, love and salvation, we could just be preaching that there is no hope--that the one true God just said that we're all going to Hell and there's absolutely NOTHING we could do about it. And whether or not you believed in Him made no difference.

No, I don't believe that sin shows that God is evil. Rather, through sin, we can see just how good he really is. Like two sides of a coin this universe is full of opposites. Light and darkness. Good and evil. Positive and negative. By seeing the bad, we can see the good. And by experiencing the bad, we can turn to, what we believe to be, the only source of good. God.

You may be experiencing the effects of sin in this world. Perhaps you are in great suffering and wondering if God really cares.
Well... you need not wonder why you are suffering.
It's because of sin. Sin is real.
There is one thing you must understand. Everyone will die on this world.
Death, even though it is considered a bad thing by some people, is also an inevitable thing.
But because you can experience this suffering, I hope you go to the one who can ease and even deliver you from that suffering. Because God cares. He's not letting you suffer in vain. A moment of suffering will lead you to him... so that you will not suffer the worst fate.

I urge you to seek out testimonies of people who found the goodness of God. One story deeply moved me. It is about a child who was forced into sexual slavery, a life of prostitution. Things were so bad that she was beaten and ended up in a hospital. While on the hospital bed, she earnestly, desperately prayed for God to help her. He saved her from that life by sending people to look into her case and give her a home and family.
If you are skeptical about that story, ask yourself this: would someone really lie about such things?
What do they gain? A laugh? Who would laugh over such a story?
I do not benefit from your belief, neither do the people who write their testimonies online.

I have more I wish to think about. But for now, let's leave it at that.