I was recently presented with two quotes, that I previously had been unaware of. Which of course opened up the proverbial can of worms, and if you know me at all I can make a short story long, so bear with me.
“Poor God, how often He is blamed for all the suffering in the world.
It’s like praising Satan for allowing all the good that happens.”
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
Being the person I am, I identify most with the first quote.
The debate always begins with a statement similar to, ‘If HE is so powerful and all-knowing, how can HE allow/cause (depends on your view) all the evils in the world?’ Before I go any further, I must tell you that my belief is that HE may ALLOW evils but does not CAUSE them. I also believe that most of the worlds evils are either caused/initiated by Satan (evil entity) or they are the consequences of our own actions and choices.
Yes, He is omnipotent, HE is BOTH willing AND able. BUT… if you have ever seen the movies‘Butterfly Effect’ and/or ‘Bruce Almighty‘ you have seen what both changing one thing can do AND what giving everyone what they think they want or need can do. Neither turned out very well. That is one very good reason why we should stop trying to tell God how to do his job, when if given the opportunity we could screw it up so very horribly. Yes, it sucks big butt when life doesn’t go our way. YES, it is painful beyond belief when someone dies who we don’t feel deserved to. YES it is EXTREMELY unfair when people who treat others as less than scum live long, healthy and prosperous lives. But are we to let that shape the way we see God? Like it or not, we are all intricately interconnected in some interesting and completely unknowing ways. For example in the show, ‘Touch’, they expand upon the concept that one person in a foreign country can be affected in very life-changing ways by a small seemingly insignificant event, comment or situational circumstance from someone more than half a world away.
I choose to theorize that God DOES know what HE is doing, HE CAN change the course of some evils IF the change does not (TOO STRONGLY) affect the house of cards we ALL are a part of. Our stories are so very integrated with each other in one way of another. I speculate that God has created a wondrously complicated world that I see as a house of cards and we are constantly asking God to play Jenga with it and then we bitch at Him when it falls. God does not make evil happen, however HE does a brilliant job of making beauty from pain. How many times have you or someone you know been significantly impacted by the struggle of someone else? Or when they chose to overcome insurmountable odds, how did that affect the lives of those who heard their story? We are all given the opportunity to BE the CHANGE for ourselves and others. We all choose to lead and live different lives, not only would the world be boring but the different experiences that each of us have and share with each other can positively OR negatively impact those our lives we touch. The movie classic, ‘A Wonderful Life’, perfectly illustrates how one person’s life (OR THE ABSENCE OF) can change the lives of those around them. We all like to think that we are nothing important but God shows us that we are so much more and this interconnected life we lead exemplifies exactly that.
HE has to be selective about the changes HE makes. If a small butterfly can affect seemingly unrelated events, then what could the mighty hands of God do? Amazing things. But, HE has to use HIS power carefully (“with great power comes great responsibility.” -Uncle Ben Spiderman) any tiny flick of HIS finger can set change to a course of events. Not only that, but if God is the All-knowing, All-seeing Father; he would be irresponsible to give us everything we want. As a parent I can tell you, that you HAVE to be careful with granting your children’s wishes at will. You have to instill qualities into your children through your interactions and guidelines. The choices that we as parents have to make, can positively or negatively impact your children’s work-ethics, moral compass, expectations of people and life, and all of the other things that can make us who we are. If you give a child anything he/she wants whenever they want it and teach them to think of others as lesser: you are shaping a child to be demanding, self-centered, and unable to compromise and they will pass those qualities onto their children. If you never let a child have anything and treat them like they are unimportant: you form a child that either becomes self-loathing or feels unworthy, never standing up for themselves or overly righteous in their expectations, and gluttonous in their desires, never satisfied and they will pass those qualities onto their children. The preferred response is the give your child the opportunity to work for and earn the things that they want, and to treat others with respect: these children will be instilled with the concept of being rewarded for hard work, they will feel loved and respected, they will be able to stand up for themselves and others, they will be mindful of others’ troubles, and they will pass those qualities onto their children. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather live in a world with the latter type of people. I also would prefer to be treated by my Father that way too.
So, indeed, regardless of your personality you are affected by your experiences and environment.
I will only use examples from my life or ones that have had an affect on my life. For example, I grew up pretty poor. There were times where I had no physical home to go to (still attending elementary school), I have even spent a few months living in an old non-functional ice cream truck, using fire to warm water for baths. As much as I HATED being poor like that at the time and wondered why God couldn’t help us out. Saw already rich people winning the lottery, when we could put it to such good use. I can see now how much that being poor helped me in my life today. I am very resourceful (to an extent), I can make nearly anything from anything. I can tell you about 5 (on average) different ways to achieve the same or similar results (especially with art or projects).
I also watched my family have interactions that sucked. The way they would make each other feel or the things that they would say to each other. I hated it then, but I can see how being present for those issues has helped me with my interactions with my family. I watched how words that hurt were thrown at each other like knives. But when they land on their target they cause more than flesh wounds, they irreparably damaged: the relationship, the recipient’s self-esteem and self-worth, and any possibility of mutual respect. Because of that, I try very hard not to say something that I CANNOT take back, for once your words have penetrated their heart you have left a scar there and no amount of sorrys can completely erase the damage or hurt that has been done or left by them.
My entire childhood I have watched people I love, blame others for ALL of their problems, and not take much if any responsibility for their own actions OR inaction. Because of this, I have learned that while others’ choices DO IMPACT our lives, we can change the level of their impact by how we choose to react to them. IF we let that situation KEEP US DOWN, then that is where we will stay. But if we choose to get up, dust ourselves off and try our damnedest to swim against the current of our circumstances, WE will be the ones in control. But others can only control you, if you let them. There are countless other times where that has occurred.
There were also times where someone has been through a difficult circumstances and because of them sharing their life experiences, they were able to help me or give me new insight on it. I think that our life’s events build upon who we are, they give us the knowledge and ability to move through that bad stuff of life, as well as prepare ourselves and others for the tougher stuff that is coming.
The ‘things’ experience in life color our world and shape our impact on others. Don’t wish them away, learn from them and revel in them. I guess, my point is that beauty comes from pain and we are beautifully interconnected and we ourselves or our choices can have momentary or sometimes lasting effects on our lives and on the lives of those around us. Be careful with your choices and your perspective. God gave us the freewill and opportunity for choice. HE has a huge part as writer and director in this play called life, but we are the actors and it is the choices we make that can make a HUGE difference in our world and our lives.
Before we blame God for allowing the evils present in the world, first we must consider the words of Francis S. Collins in his book, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, “let us recognize that a large fraction of our suffering and that of our fellow human beings is brought about by what we do to one another. It is humankind, not God, that had invented knives, arrows, guns, bombs, and all manner of other instruments of torture used through the ages. The tragedy of the young child killed by a drunk driver, of the innocent young man dying on the battlefield, or of the young girl cut down by a stray bullet in a crime-ridden section of a modern city can hardly be blamed on God. After all, we have somehow been given free will, the ability to do as we please. We use this ability frequently to disobey the Moral Law. And when we do so, we shouldn’t then blame God for the consequences.
Not to justify or say that I enjoy this fact of life, but I am reminded that The Four Noble Truths of Buddha, began with “Life is suffering.” And as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian wrote, “Time lost is time when we have not lived a full human life, time un-enriched by experience, creative endeavor, enjoyment, and suffering.”
So go and EXPERIENCE life in all of it’s beauty and pain, joy and sorrow, gain and loss. For the good in life without the bad, seems merely average and mundane.
Try seeing life from another persepective