*Why do bad things happen to good people? It is the eternal philosophical question. Why is there sadness and suffering in the world and heartbreak and frustration in our lives, though we fall on our knees in prayer? The answers to these questions are not easy and in fact are some of the same questions people of faith at all stages of their journey ask on a daily basis.
The answer proved sufficient for Job, who humbly replied that the entire enterprise seemed too wonderful for him. Alas, I do not share Job's rock solid faith and find the idea that the answer is just too complex for my simple mind equivalent to a parent responding, "Because I said so." Experience tells me this puts me in the company of a lot of the religious faithful. I am a believer. I also want so badly to understand the why's and wherefore's of sorrow and distress.
I am fortunate that in my more reflective moods I have friends that help me to some palatable if temporary resolution.
Contrary to current humanist influenced cultural teaching, there is an objective right and wrong; two distinct and conflicting powers of good and evil that are the same for all men regardless of their time in history. Neither of these two authorities exists in a vacuum; once loosed into the world both good and evil take on lives of their own expanding and impacting our lives and the lives of others. Our lives are a test – a constant struggle between those two powers. What kind of a test would it be if we did not face the worst kinds of evil? Or look on the most magnificent blessings?
Bad things happen to good people so that mankind can be free. Freedom cannot be contrived, but of necessity it involves real risk, both the risks of the bad judgment and malevolence from otherS of our kind, and the risk of impersonal providence. Christ set the example by freely choosing to die--he could have done what was wrong and been rewarded in this life--but he freely chose to do what was right and died for it. That is the sacrifice that everyone should choose: to do what is right no matter what the apparent cost and let loose good into the world. Peter shed tears as the cock crowed because he had failed the first pop quiz in true discipleship – he did what was easy, what was self-centered, what was wrong. This is why as individuals in this life, we are doomed. It is only by looking outside of ourselves to one that is greater that there is redemption.
Evil is real. The sorrow and despair that evil leaves in its wake is also very real and none of us escapes its touch. However, unlike Job's ordeal, our travails are not the result of God's abandonment or proof of his non-existence, but of the enduring legacy of millions upon millions of choices down through history to choose the wide gate, the easy path, the wrong way rather than pay the price for what was right. Bad things happen to good people all day long. Until people resolve to do more good than evil that is unlikely to change. Reconciling this timeless truth it is not a denial of faith--it is an explanation of faith.
Joseph C. Phillips is the author of "He Talk Like A White Boy" available wherever books are sold.