How could a loving God allow so much misery?
In the wake of the latest massacre perpetrated against the Coptic church, in Egypt, this question has been asked by believers and non-believers alike. Why did God allow the bombing to occur?
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
- Where is God when His followers are massacred, persecuted, discriminated against?
- How could God allow poverty? War?
I will get to the religious answers in a moment but allow me to turn the table round for an exercise in social responsibility.
Why do humans allow the very things that we accuse God of permitting?
We allow evil to thrive, don’t we? Yes, we do.
How could we allow wars and poverty to be a constant reality?
It is not for lack of resources or negotiating abilities.
We can end poverty but we choose not to.
We can stop wars but they are lucrative and we have become adept at justifying them.
The religious perspective:
The shortest answer to the question can be summed up in one of the fundamental gifts that God bestowed on humans: Free Will.
God created us in His image and gave us the ultimate freedom to chose how to live our lives. God did not create robots to worship Him. He created humans who are capable of extraordinary feats and accomplishments and, unfortunately, desolating horror as well. We cannot blame Him for not “interfering” when He could have. In other words, we can’t want part-time free will when it suits us and divine intervention to spread social justice.
God should not be held accountable for only horrific acts and then relegated to the ranks of legend or folklore (for the non-believers) when all is fine and dandy in the world.
This question also came up in a spiritual group on Facebook and a dear friend (thank you Mervat) found the following excellent answer: Why does God allow evil
Another excellent reference is C.S. Lewis’ book The problem of pain
I have been on a roller-coaster of emotions since the bombing, ranging from despair, anger, sadness, rebellion, and back to sadness. My heart aches for the victims’ families; my mind fails to find hope in a world engulfed by terrorism and terrorist philosophy ( for lack of a better word).
I have scoured the net looking for solace and comforting words.
I should have been clinging to my Bible instead:
Comforting Bible verses
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.” Jeremiah 29: 11-14.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelations 21:1-17.
I leave you with a few quotes from C.S. Lewis:
“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
“We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.”
“His Omnipotence means power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to Him, but not nonsense. There is no limit to His power.
If you choose to say, ‘God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,’ you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words, ‘God can.’
It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but nonentities. It is no more possible for God than for the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.”
Other posts you might enjoy: Are we crazy?
Recommended Children’s Book on this topic: Philo and the Goodness SuperHoly
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