Humans Have God-Given Power
The Balance of Good and Evil
It’s an age old problem. It happens in every generation. Good people die before their time, sometimes in horrible ways, or are disabled by unfair injuries or are crippled by unexpected financial loss…and we really get upset about this! Our sense of justice is offended.
When bad things happen to people we perceive as good, especially children, we become indignant. Why doesn’t God stop all the unnecessary pain and suffering? Why should any child be afflicted with disease, neglect or abuse? Why should any good person at any age endure painful experiences?
And the fact that God created the world in the blink of an eye begs the question. With all that power, why doesn’t He protect innocent people from bad things and prove to everyone how benevolent He can be? To any person who hasn’t become emotionally callous this is a fair and reasonable question but is it really an emotional issue? We can’t reasonably consider this question without asking several more questions first. For example…
At what point does a “good” person cease to be “innocent?”
If every person is born innocent (good) at what point does that change? Is innocence lost at a certain age? Does an eleven year old automatically become guilty on their twelfth birthday or is innocence lost by intentional acts of wrongdoing?
Once a person is no longer innocent are they still considered good and, if so, how many acts of wrongdoing does it take to turn a “good” person into one that is bad? How wide is the grey area between the first act of wrongdoing and the one that carries a person over the line?
Is there an absolute standard we follow or do we view a person as “good” because they aren’t as wrong as the ones we think are “bad?” Or maybe they are good because we like them and bad because we don’t.
Is our measurement of “good” limited by preconceived stereotypes?
Can a McCoy ever consider a Hatfield good? Can a capitalist ever consider a communist good?
Communists impose their philosophies violently on anyone too weak to resist. in the past that was the definition of a good communist. To a communist, communism is the only good. They are taught this from an early age.
Are we to consider them innocent or guilty? When a Bolshevist is true to this teaching, he is being honest, loyal and genuine. Aren’t these good qualities? Are we to pray for and defend this relatively “good” person? Should we petition the benevolence of God on his behalf?
How to qualify who and what is good are only the first questions. Once answered, how exactly, do we want God to keep “good” people tragedy free?
Should He suspend, or rearrange, all natural laws at the critical moment without regard for how it impacts others? If He only helps the “good” ones, does it matter how the “bad” ones are affected? How much are we “bad” willing to sacrifice so God can help the “good?”
Should God allow good people to die before they experience horror? Would the victims of the holocaust have been better off if they had died as infants? Would God be considered merciful if they had? People who grasp this perspective are the ones who coined the phrase, “only the good die young?”
Should we expect God to destroy those who create horror before they have a chance to do so? Would we approve if Hitler or Stalin had died as infants? Would God still be implicated if they had? If God eliminated all the people who do bad things before they did it, how many of the now-living would actually be dead?
Can we know the good or bad that any person will do before they do it? If not, can we ever say we understand what God is doing and why He does it?
Obviously, the title of this post raises more questions than we are able to answer briefly. There are too many details about which we can’t be sure but there are some things made clear by the Bible and human experience:
No one but God is good
On one occasion, a wealthy young ruler referred to Jesus as “good master” and Jesus questioned that. He said, “why do you call me good? There is no one good but God.” Jesus’ statement has a huge impact on the original question. If God is the only one who is absolutely good then instead of asking “why do bad things happen to good people,” we should be asking “why do good things happen at all.” Can you say that you are good enough to deserve God’s intervention even at the expense of others just so “bad” doesn’t come your way?
The largest number of tragedies experienced by humans are caused by humans
C. S. Lewis said human moral failure causes 80% of all tragedies and that doesn’t account for problems caused by human error or ignorance. That leaves very few “bad” things we can attribute to God. The obvious solution is to remove the humans. Where would we be then? Fortunately, the default setting for humans is not absolute evil. God created us with the ability to change. We can liberate like Moses or enslave like Pharaoh. We have the God-given power to influence the balance of good and evil in the world.
God is equal to everyone and encourages us to be the same
“He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45). That statement describes the big picture. God cares enough about everyone, good or bad, to maintain a benevolent relationship to each, generally.
On a personal level, however, Jesus became incarnate. He became like us so we could identify with Him and He died on the cross to meet our greatest need. Because of Jesus’ death, we can have a new nature, which is to say, Jesus attempts to change the outcome by changing the person. He is more concerned about changing the people than the circumstances! If you want to increase the good done in the world embrace Jesus. If you want to change bad people into good encourage them to do the same.
God enables good outcomes now, in this life, and guarantees a good eternal result
God neither causes the bad things people experience nor can He prevent them without breaking several natural laws, one of which involves human will. But the same law which allows an evil choice also enables the affected to rise above the outcomes of those choices. Many people have experienced evil at the hands of other people but have eventually overcome it. Two well known examples are Maya Angelou and Oprah Winfrey. It was Oprah who said, “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.” In other words, the concentration of bad is greatly reduced by the good will God has given to humans.
Additionally, God will ultimately control the eternal outcome for good. The unresolved bad things that people experience in this life will be used for the benefit of others in this life and remedied in the next. In fact, the problems you have here will not be remembered there.
Here is what the Bible actually says,
We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
All things, even the bad things, will work together for good. What an amazing statement!
Please understand three things:
One, God is not oblivious to tragedy. He understands our pain. Jesus, Who comforts us, experienced every kind of pain and temptation so He knows what you are going through and how to provide support. And the blessing is, He will make it go away in eternity.
Two, I have not resolved the question. The bad things we see happening to people is not something we will completely understand in this life. But, we have good reason not to become cynical or accuse God.
Three, nothing said here is intended to minimize or trivialize the tragedy you or any other person has or will experience. The pain is real and never easy to fully understand. The bottom line…Jesus is a loving Savior who wishes to embrace you now and will deliver you from all tragedy eventually. What do you THINK!AboutIt?