I feel like you can’t have a discussion about God without this question coming up. And I feel like you can’t have this question without someone responding with “sometimes God tests us…” I have always hated that response. “…sometimes God tests us…” That statement always conjures up, in me, this image of a God sitting on his throne in heaven playing chess and we are the pieces. I think one of the reasons why I’ve hated that statement is because it tends to get thrown around too much. And it tends to get thrown around by people who don’t fully understand that sentence any more than I do. It is a response they’ve heard, it sounded pretty good, and it filled a gap. But a God that lets bad things to happen, then sits back to watch how I react, is a God I want nothing to do with.
But you, reader, are in luck. I don’t believe that I am a chess piece and I don’t believe that God sits back.
But first, who do you consider to be “good?” There are no right or wrong answers here, just list in your head all of the characteristics of a “good” person. Someone you admire? Someone who has never broken a commandment? A ping pong champion who has never eaten ice cream? Heh, just kidding. It really doesn’t matter what the characteristics are, just create for me someone that qualifies as “good”. Next, who would you define as a “bad” person. Murderers? Rapists? Communists? Just kidding, again.
Now, imagine a world where all of the “bad” people have disappeared. Something happened that wiped all bad people from this world and left behind a commune of only a select few of those “good” people with the purest of hearts. Can you picture it?
Would this world still have hurricanes? What about cancer? Freak accidents?
You see, I don’t believe that bad things happen to good people. I believe that bad things happen to good people, bad people, and mediocre people. Just like I don’t believe that good things happen to bad people. I believe that good things happen to bad people, good people, and mediocre people. My point is: things happen. And they happen to everyone. It us humans that are fixated with this idea that “good” people should not experience hardship. We pass judgment and decide who is worthy of “good” things and who deserves to “get what is coming to them.” And we were never given a say in the first place.
The response “sometimes God tests us…” has some validity, just misguided. IF God tests us it is not for His benefit, it is for ours. Consider this: “God has not been trying to experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t. In this trial He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once. He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact was to knock it down.” C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed.
But isn’t God in control of the Universe? Then why would God let “things happen”? That is a great question and I am going to take a stab at it in the next post. So stay tuned for Part 2 and more quotes from C.S. Lewis.