Friday, January 1, 2010

Why Me? (part 2 of 3)

In the previous section we discovered meaning for each of us, on a unique level, that only we can experience individually. If we are called into existence for a particular purpose, and by a benevolent God, then why do some horrific things seem to come our way? A person, who recognizes the existence of God, and searches to perform his unique mission, still seems to suffer the same fate as those who do not choose this road. How could a benevolent God not shield us all from the unpleasant horrors we face? And since He 'could' protect us, and He chooses not to, isn't He to blame for our misfortunes? These questions need to be addressed, but also recognize the premise is as old as 'evil'. 'Evil' has always desired to tear down the character of 'God'. To paint God with all of its own traits - call Him a liar, a dictator, cruel, selfish, and proud. Of course God is none of these things, but the techniques of blaming God are as old as 'evil' itself.

So why does misfortune occur? First, we must begin by addressing properly the concept of cause-and-effect. For instance, if you decide to consume more alcohol than your body is capable of processing, you will get sick and throw-up (or so I have heard). When you’re sick, do you then blame God, knowing full well it was you that chose to drink too much in the first place? And in point of fact, if you did not throw-up you could die from it poisoning your system. In this scenario, two important principles are at work - first, you will pay the consequences of your choices - and second, others may pay for them as well. The first decision to drink and impair judgment was not a good one, but then, a second even worse decision may now occur (particularly since you are no longer capable of using 100 percent of your brain power) - you could decide to get behind the wheel of a car and drive in this condition. Now what happens, a horrific accident where people die. Ironically, usually the drunk lives through this one as he/she is fairly limp when they collide. However, the family with small children dies from the impact most every time. Whose fault is this? Is it the beer and alcohol company's fault for making this product? Is it the bar-tender's fault for serving it? Is it your friend’s fault for not stopping you from driving? All those options sound better than the truth - it is clearly and completely your own fault as a series of your decisions, led to this result.

We enlightened, and litigious Americans hate the concept of taking responsibility for our own actions. We live in a culture that seeks to find someone, anyone else to blame for our deeds and decisions. Otherwise we would be forced to look in the mirror way too often for what happens in our own lives. Ah, but what about the family of 5 that you killed in your drunken stupor. How is your decision, your choice, their fault in any way? Shouldn’t God have fixed this scenario for them at least? The answer to this is a bit difficult but bear with me. In general, God does not interfere in the free-will decisions we make on this earth. If He did, we could easily resemble robots, forced into the slavery of His will. This He will not accept. We must learn to choose Him of our own free will.

But with the power to make the choice for good, comes the consequences of making the choice for 'evil'. When we choose 'evil' on any level, we inflict pain on at least 3 groups - ourselves, our God, and those around us. 'Evil' cannot be contained to just destroying ourselves, like a dreaded viral disease, it stretches out to everyone it can reach to inflict further pain. It is said, 'no man is an island.' Never truer words were spoken with respect to the consequences of 'evil' choices. And very often, those who SHOULD NOT have to suffer from what we choose, in fact do suffer. And while evil exists, this will remain true. The only way to exterminate evil is to recognize its true nature, and turn away from it. This process itself is God authored and we will discuss it in more detail later. For now, the point remains, as we choose to indulge evil, we lay the ground work for inflicting pain on a much wider basis than we anticipate.

There are those who look at history, and say, how can there be a God, who allows six million of His own people to die at Hitler's hands? They are not looking at the right thing. Hitler's personal choices for 'evil' affected an entire nation. He did not personally shoot 6 million Jews, he had PLENTY of help, from complacent people who were afraid to choose 'good'; too lazy or indifferent to choose 'good'; or just infected with racial prejudice & bias and zealous enough to kill for this stupidity. Thousands of people carried out these orders. Even more looked the other way. And to be clear, the deaths were not limited to Jews, Gypsy's suffered about another six to eight million losses, as well as endless numbers of German and Russian soldiers along that front. God allowed Hitler to live out his life, as He did all of those guilty accomplices, as He did for all of those people who turned a blind eye - as He does for you and I as we sometimes choose to turn a blind eye to places like Bosnia, or Darfur, or maybe just that poor guy who asks for money at the intersection where you drive your car.

While in general, God does not normally interfere with our free-will choices, there are times when He does. God has a master plan and is in control of all of existence. He does not force your decisions or your will, but He does sometimes protect you from the poorer decisions of others. There are cases of miracles all throughout history of people who escape death or harm due to the direct interference of the divine. God's plans will be carried out. They will not be deterred by 'evil'. This is not a guarantee that following God equals divine protection. As we have seen time and again, our own choices often directly impact us, and the choices of others. We don't follow God for protection, or safety, for it is not fear we have of death. Remember following God's plan means more than just the life you live today, there is something more; we will discuss this more in a later section. The point is that the meaning we seek in our individual lives is unaffected by the events that may impact us. We leave the particulars of our existence in God's hands.

Lastly, there is one other notion that needs to be looked at a little bit more. The question 'why do bad things happen to good people?' We have already talked about choices and consequences, but the idea that there are 'good' people needs a little bit of focus. First of all this question implies that God loves someone in the equation less than someone else. For example, in the case of our drunk driver who winds up killing the family - we assume the family was 'good' and the drunk driver was 'bad'. It is actually impossible to know either of these things.

For those of you who are parents, if one child hits a sibling, do you choose to love one of them less - or are you sorry for the pain of the wounded - and worried to correct the behavior of the one who caused it? God loves the drunkard every bit as much as He loves the family. He weeps at the pain we go through, both as victim, AND as perpetrator. One may be at fault, but pain is experienced everywhere. This is the real nature of 'evil', it does not discriminate, it wants everyone to experience pain. The goal of all 'evil' is to inflict as much pain on God as possible - how do you accomplish this goal - why by attacking His children of course. And every created being, God sees as His erring child. He loves them ALL. He wants them ALL to be reconciled with Him: even Hitler, even those that helped him, even me. We think of ourselves as the only victims of evil, when the real target is actually God Himself.

For those that face the loss of someone they loved; for those who were abused by someone beyond their control; for those who hurt for whatever reason, whether self-inflicted, or by another's choice - God feels your pain. He would give anything to stop the cycle of 'evil' that has impacted you. He hates what pain 'evil' causes, and He assures you it WILL NOT LAST. There will be an end to the 'evil' you have experienced. Your life here may be hard, with little comfort, but this will not always be so. There is something more. God has plans that stretch out farther than your limited viewpoint can see. He sees time unlike you. And He knows there will come a day when all 'evil' is put to an end. And then finally, we will be united forever in our choice for 'good'.

In a future section we will discuss the final part of this series on 'Why me' from a more positive perspective. In short, it is time to examine the greatest gift you will ever be given.

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