Friday, July 6, 2012
God Cares When Bad Things Happen
Last week I wrote about a song of comfort for difficult times. I was going to move on to another topic until I found myself reading a new book Godforsaken by Dinesh D’Souza, President of The Kings College in New York City. What I like most about his books is he makes me think about my viewpoint on topics. I find him reaffirming most of what I believe and sometimes challenging me to think in new ways. The subtitle of the book is “Bad Things Happen. Is there a God who cares? Yes. Here’s proof”. Just as song “Tears of Joy” looked at suffering and difficulty this book digs deeper into the subject.
Dr. D’Souza leaves no stone of suffering unturned. He looks at terrible acts of God in nature: earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes. Pain and suffering in the animal kingdom which often makes us wonder why God created a nature full of pain and struggle? Of course there is also much human suffering in young people who die too young. People you become paralyzed due to illness and accidents. He discusses the full range of suffering along all spectrums, as these are all areas where people look at the pain and suffering and ask where is God? How can there be a God that allows all this suffering? In my younger years I read the atheist, Bertrand Russell’s writings and in recent years I have read the new atheists writings of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris as well as others. Suffering is one angy complaint they hold up as evidence,(?), that God does not exist. So from that point alone it is important to look at the subject of suffering. Also it is important for me as a Christian to see what there is to learn from suffering.
I appreciate how the book does not describe the suffering in a detached intellectual way but delves into the emotional impact of it in our lives. I remember recently a dear friend in Chicago lost his son to an early death from sickness. When I had received the email from his mother I was shocked as I could not believe what had happened and felt sadness for a dear friend who had been a big help to me when I lived in Chicago. Those sudden unexpected deaths are often the hardest to take in trying to understand the silence of God in it all.
There are too many things I learned from the book to address here is this post so I encourage you to pick up the book in your favorite bookstore or library. But I will touch on a few items. One item that first comes to mind is his discussion on atheism and what he terms “wounded theism”. I had always wondered to myself why do these atheists in their writings write full of anger raging against God who they happen to believe does not exist? So you don’t believe in God -- big deal get on with your life. In many of them though is a background of religious upbringing and they become disillusioned. The idea of at their root of their anger at God is a wounded theism makes sense so I can understand where many of them are coming from. Some of them are angry with God so then make a choice to believe in an atheistic faith.
Another point I appreciated was that one purpose of suffering is to help mold us to be more empathic in our caring for others going through suffering. A helpful quote is, “Happiness is an incompetent instructor; much of the knowledge we get in life comes from hardship.” As I look back on my life as I went through a very difficult time a friend asked me what was I going to learn from the experience. Through pain and suffering we can either become bitter or become better. I try to aim for the better mindset as the bitter attitude causes a negative spiral downwards. A move to improve to be better, spirals us upwards to an improved attitude and better future response to difficulties.
We should never wish harm and pain on others. My blog attempts to improve people’s happiness levels. Yet our journey on this earth gives each of us our times of trials and pain. My worldview causes me to turn to God and know He will not forsake me. He is there in the storm with me. Just as Christ suffered more than any of us could imagine there is a promise of a future hope of a world without pain and suffering. An atheist may think I am crazy for believing that. But as I was reading Dr. D’Souza’s book verses from Romans 8:19-22 came to mind, “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that[a] the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”
I simply believe the Bible’s message of the Fall of man and subsequent fall of nature and the promise of God’s love and redemption through Christ makes the most sense out of what I observe in the world around me and in the world’s history. That is my belief, yes and I stand firm on that. Just as the atheist stands firm in their faith belief, that this magnificent miraculous world just poofed into existence by random chance.
Reflection: This reflection idea comes from the book, God Forsaken. Take a sheet of paper and draw two columns. Look over the past year and first write out all the bad things that happened to you. Then in the other column write out all the good things that happened and things you are grateful for from the past year. You will see even though there are bad things that happen for the most part there are more good things. Also look over some of the bad painful items. Has there been anything you learned or grew in from those events?