Not too long ago I had a discussion about how I could believe in a God that allows bad things to happen to good people.
Not just “bad things,” but truly heart-breaking, devastating circumstances. Things with no rhyme or reason, understanding or logic. Things that are just wrong.
If there is a God, my friend asked, and if He is good, if He is just, how do you defend these unjust acts that are contrary to the nature of God?
He was right — we all recognize life isn’t quite what we feel has been promised to us. Heartbreak, brokenness, despair, ruin… these are all circumstances we face on a rotational basis. For many,
this is not the life we looked upon with anticipation.
I puzzled over his argument, seeing the logic in it. But tonight I read something that shocked me.
I have always felt the “wrong” in the world is the result of sin, living in a world designed for perfection but saturated by brokenness. I saw tragedy as something similar to how World War II was ended by treaty but not everyone got the message and the fighting continued, so people died during what was actually peacetime.
But get this:
“Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?“
- GK Chesterton
Did you catch that? “Why am I allowed two [days]?”
What on Earth gives us the idea we are entitled to a string of days of joy? What are we doing with our time that is so significant it can’t be cut short with little impact at any time?
Does a Declaration of Independence give us carte blanche on the exciting, the joyful, and the fulfilling experiences of life? NO.
(In fact, if we read that document carefully, the only thing the government promises to uphold is our ability to take a shot at happiness based on our own effort. We are guaranteed the opportunity to pursue. Not the promise of capture.)
After I read this I realized I’ve been living with a sense of entitlement toward God that is echoed by most everyone I’ve ever met.
For example, I expect my children to be alive when we wake up tomorrow morning. I expect my natural gifts and talents to be appreciated, exercised, and productive. I expect my marriage to be a thing of beauty.
But why? How did I ever get the idea these things (among many others) would simply happen because I’m a good person who tries to do the next right thing on a daily basis?
Grace. It is by God’s grace only I have one more moment to breathe. I don’t deserve anything. I mean anything.
In my awful, real moments I admit I mess up (easily) as many times as I succeed at this thing called life. It is by grace and grace alone I get each new day as a “do-over.”
I don’t deserve mulligans. But somehow, I get them.
That doesn’t make the injustice in the world o.k. or something we can’t question or despise. But it does change my heart when I think about what we’re really promised in this world. It makes me thank God for the moments in my day I get a second-chance to improve.
Is this concept hard to accept for you? Does this make sense?
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