Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths
If God Is Good, Then
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN?
One of the biggest roadblocks in human beings believing in God, then wrapping their minds around having a relationship with Him, is that there are all these terrible things that happen in the world. The basic idea is that if God were all powerful, then He could prevent it all from happening. The same goes for the premise that God is good. How could He be when awful things happen to "good people" every day?
We'll go through this step-by-step and discuss how this all happened. Hopefully, by the end of it, you'll see that God is, in fact, all-powerful, and not only is He good, but He actually loves us... more than we could even grasp.
Now, God says that after He created everything, He looked at it and saw that it was good. Showing that He was satisfied with His creation, He rested after it was finished. Everything was in order. God enjoyed a personal, intimate relationship with Adam and Eve, even "walking" IN the garden and conversing with them. Adam and Eve had everything they needed, things were peaceful, and they had even been given work to do, thus providing them with purpose and direction as they tended the garden that God had created and placed them in. Everything was good.
Although they'd been given the freedom to think for themselves and do as they wish, they did not yet have the understanding of good and evil. They relied on God for that. He told them what to do and what not to do, and they trusted Him to make the best choices for them. Unfortunately, the freedom to think for themselves and do what they wanted is what ultimately led to their downfall. Not content with what they'd been given and the life they had with God, they desired more.
This is known as the "fall of man". Humans, created good, in a good world, by a good God, chose to disobey God, seeking after knowledge and wisdom that only God had so that they took take His place in authority and govern their own lives. This disobedience, or "sin", separated us from God, as since He is holy (set apart from the world), He cannot be in the presence of sin. By our own actions, God's days of walking in the garden with us were over. Moreover, our actions have consequences. God knew that since we now were striving to govern ourselves and decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong, this was going to go poorly. So, being a merciful God, He removed us from the garden of Eden, lest we descend down the toilet in our decisions, corrupt the world, eat from the Tree of Life, and live forever in our terrible state. Removing the tree of life meant that we would only have to be in this now declining world for a limited time. I mean, seriously... did you think that we could choose to remove God from His place and He wouldn't do anything about it? Blessing us with eternal life? I don't think so.
Okay, so here we go... separated from God. This is where we begin to see the decline of the world; the rise of man into power in the world. As the rulers of the earth, we got to make our own decisions and affect our own destinies. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve did not stop to contemplate what a life without God would look like. Let's explore that, shall we? What kind of benefits did we enjoy with God running the show and always being around, even walking in the Garden with us?
safety | love | hope | joy | life | providence | truth | wisdom
Without these present in our lives in abundance and guaranteed, we were left with
danger | loneliness | lostness | sadness | death | need | lies | confusion
Now, it's easy to see that these are negatives, right? Who wants to live in danger? Who wants to be lonely, lost, and sad? Death enters the picture, and all of a sudden, we are faced with mortality. We can be killed. Violence is now present in the world, both animal vs. human and human vs. human. We COULD speculate as to what would have happened if we fell off a cliff while simultaneously having eaten from the tree of life, but without cliffs in the garden (assumed) and evidence of any mention of this type of situation, it's probably best to leave this speculation for another time, or just not waste time speculating at all. Let's stick to what we know, shall we?
Okay. No providence? That's a problem. Now we are forced to gather our own resources for our survival. We have need. The lack of God's truth and wisdom leaves us with the presence of lies, as humans begin to create their own "truths" and... confusion. Without God's wisdom, we begin to create our own value system. What is good? What is bad? What is acceptable? What's not? It's on us to say. That's not good. We don't have the perfect truth and wisdom that God has. I'd venture to say that we shouldn't be in charge of such things, but... without God... it's really up to us. That's a problem. These are all problems.
Leaving all of these things in the hands of humans creates SO many many problems. First of all, let's keep this basic. Okay, so we have these problems, right? They are present now and something that we, as humans, are forced to deal with right? So what do we do? We seek out solutions! We have to try to fix the problems.
So... with the presence of these new issues, we begin to seek out...
security | companionship | direction | happiness | longer life | provision | peace | purpose
Right? We NEED these things. In the presence of danger, we humans seek out security. What can we do to ensure our own safety and survival? In the presence of loneliness, we now look for others to fill that void and BE with us. Whether that be family, friends, or a more intimate relationship. This becomes a focal point in humans. Must have companion. We seek out and chase after it.
No one has a desire to be lost, so we look for direction. Where do go from here? What do we do? What's next? Without God, we are left with the presence of potential sadness. Well, no one wants to be sad. How to we avoid being sad? Find ways to be happy! Right? How can we be happy? Well, thus far in human history we've had a few solutions to this problem. Stuff? Right? More possessions. That makes us happy, right? Sex? Good sex can keep someone happy, at least for a while. Money? Drugs? Those can bring a temporary break in sadness. Give a sad person a bunch of money and watch his frown turn upside down. Drugs can lift the spirits as well!
Facing our eventual demise, whether by violence, accident, or old age, we seek to NOT DIE!!! Live longer, look for ways to live forever. Well, if you live your life this way and bow down to this God, you can be RE-CREATED!! You can... go to heaven!! If you eat these things and not those things, you can at least extend your life! Maybe live another 20-30 years?
Okay, so we see how God's absence creates problems that we now have to deal with, and how we will naturally seek to find ways to deal with those problems, right? Okay. So, now we find the real issue. It's the pursuit. As we seek to solve these problems for ourselves... that's when we run into the BIG problems. God is the only one who can solve these problems for us without the negative side effects. Without Him, we search on our own. Some of us search gradually and peaceably. Others... not so much. Humans have been known to seek these things out with such desperation and veracity that serious repercussions befall not just the seekers, but everyone around them as well. Humans have been known to sacrifice the people around them in hopes that these needs will be met. Let's see what kind of problems are created by our pursuits, yeah?
oppression | adultery | addiction | greed | depression | poverty | division | religion
See what happened there? Pushing down others, keeping weapons out of their hands, minimizing their ability to unify and mobilize, restricting their communication abilities, etc. etc. ... this can lead to an increase in my sense of safety for me and the people I allow to be around me. This is called oppression. If I allow the people around me to have weapons, unify, communicate, and move freely... I could die at any time. Danger is right around the corner! So, we have people groups oppressing other people groups in order to secure for themselves safety and security. Unfortunately, this carries with it terrible repercussions for those being oppressed.
The use of drugs to bring happiness, alleviate sadness, etc. leads to addiction. Striving to avoid need leads many to horde resources, leading to depression and poverty. The lack of peace and purpose leads many to religions of all kinds, many of which horde the resources for themselves. Some of the biggest and most elaborate buildings in the world are churches, for example. The most wealthy country on the planet is actually the capital of the Catholic religion. With no real God behind these religions, many chase them only to find that their issues persist and prayers go unanswered. The pursuit of peace in the sense of non-violence, leads many to divide and put up walls that no one can get through, or to seclude themselves away from the masses. Still others who are married continue to pursue happiness, leading to adultery as they seek out happiness in the arms of another person.
These reckless pursuits of meeting these needs lead to even bigger problems.
hate | broken homes | death | abuse | hunger | despair | violence | homelessness
So... adultery as an example. Man seeks out happiness in the arms of another woman. Woman is left with hate, despair, and sometimes even violence towards him or possibly the woman he has found. Children are left without parents and homes. The religious who have poured out their hearts and souls to their churches have been known to become violent when others oppose their views, leading to many many deaths over the years. As people horde food for themselves to ensure that they have no need, others are thrust into poverty and hunger. People around the world starve to death while others throw excess food away. Poverty in itself is quite dangerous, as resources become more and more scarce for a people group. More greed is prevelant. More hate, violence, and death. Obviously, we see that there is a very great demand for drugs, and so, of course, there must be a great supply of drugs. The making of and distribution of drugs brings with it more greed, violence, and death. The use of these drugs brings with it terrible inconsistencies in behavior and has inherrent hate, abuse, despair, violence, homelessness, broken homes, and death.
So, you see how the absence of God in the world has led humans on a neverending pursuit of things He once provided? In their desparation, humans will sacrifice one another for food, water, money, land, power, security, happiness, etc.
In God's design for us, we share all of these things freely with each other, making sure that none go without. We care for our orphans. We care for our widows. We care for our old and disabled. Everyone gives willingly, and those who can work do so, not just to care for themselves, but for others as well. Obvisously, this calls for great sacrifice and selflessness, which is against our nature, and so is only possible by God's power and requires a relationship with Him. This is only done through His Son, Jesus.
It is true that God has left us to do what we wish, and although we have made many great accomplishments, we have also managed to leave the most dire problems still unsolved. Homelessness, poverty, hunger, thirst, etc.
As God allows us to do as we see fit, He knew that we would only be able to come so far, and to be allowed passage into heaven required us to be without sin (disobedience to God's design). This would never happen on our own as our nature urges us to pursue many things that are contrary to God's design, thus leaving everyone of us sinful, even from birth. (notice how you do not need to teach a toddler to take what they want, hit, bite, argue, disobey, lie, etc.) So... God showed us one thing that most humans have no idea about. He loves us. His love for us is so great, in fact, that He sent His own Son to live the perfect life in obedience to Him that we could never do. He sent His own Son to sacrifice Himself on our behalf, something none of were qualified or willing to do, thus taking the sins of the world on Himself and paying the debt between man and God.
Believing in their heart and confessing with their mouth that Jesus is God and died for the sins of humanity; that He rose from the dead on the third day as He promised, thus conquering sin and death and proving to the world that He is God, as He said before He died... believing in their hearts and confessing with their mouths that Jesus is Lord (Master) of their lives, humans are able to have past, present, and future sins completely forgiven, blotted out from their record, and even more important, this leads to an open relationship with God, as the person is now blameless and without sin, all having been paid by Jesus.
As a new creation in Jesus, humans enjoy an intimate relationship with the Creator of the universe. His power, favor, and love is on display in their lives, and they appear to be quite different than the rest of humanity. They enjoy things that have been long lost, like joy, peace, purpose, direction, and the like, all without having to pursue them. God's people are generous, taking care of others. God's people work hard and employers appreciate them more than most. Christians enjoy the lack of worry and anxiety, learning to trust in God as He continues to faithfully stand by His child and provide for them.
Please do not mistake. A Christian is a person who has declared in their heart and with their mouth that Jesus is God. A Christian surrenders their mind, heart, life, family, dreams, goals, and resources to God... that God can do whatever He wants with them. A Christian proves that they love God by obeying His word. In devotion, a Christian spends time in God's word, learning it, taking it into their hearts and minds, and obeying it. A Christian then takes this knowledge and experience and passes it on to others, helping them to mature in their walk with God as well.
My website will eventually help you do that. The discipleship curriculum is about half done now, but is sufficient for you to meet up with another person once a week for a year or so, walking them through Scripture and helping them walk with the Lord like a true, devoted Christian. Eventually, there will be enough for a couple years, and will include commentary, allowing those without Christian leadership to be discipled at a distance. Of course, you can email me any time with any questions, concerns, or suggestions, and I will get back to you just as soon as I'm able. I do work full-time and I'm married with two kids and one on the way. Feel free to use my website as you see fit. You can copy, paste, take my pictures, share my music, etc. It's not mine. It's God's. To Him be the glory.