Thursday, May 28, 2009

When bad things happen

One of the major themes in Wm. Paul Young's book The Shack is the question of why bad things happen to good people, or perhaps better put: why God allows bad things to happen. My understanding of this is that bad things happen because our world is broken. God gave us free will, to make our own choices, because God didn't want a bunch of puppet people to be his children. God wanted to have a relationship with each one of us, but more important than just the relationship, he wanted us to choose to be in relationship with him. Because free will has been given to everyone, bad people also can choose to do as they please. And so bad things happen. Because our world is broken, we have crime and disease and famine and war.

The question that kept running through my head as I read the book was not why does God allow bad things to happen, but how does God decide when to intervene? Because there are some children who get cancer and live and others who die. Does God love the ones who died less? Some people are in terrible auto accidents and walk away without a scratch and others are in much less serious accidents and die.

Today would have been my younger brother's 23rd birthday. He died suddenly and unexpectedly when he was 15 years old. And I was mad at God for a while. You see, when someone dies of a disease, you can blame the disease. When someone dies from a drug overdose or a drive by shooting or a car accident, there is a logical place to assign blame. But when a seemingly healthy 15 year old athlete dies of "natural causes" the only entity to blame is God. Why did you even send him to us, I screamed at God, if you were only going to take him away so soon, too soon? And I still don't know. Almost eight years later, I am thankful for the time we did get to spend with Jeremy. I think our lives are richer because he was with us for a time.

I remember the day my brother was born. My mom had been scheduled to go in for labor induction that day, so when my older brother and I woke up to find our mom and dad gone, we weren't surprised. We set about getting ready for school, and then the phone rang: my dad, telling us that we had a younger brother. We were so excited, we actually danced around the room, no kidding. Jeremy started kindergarten the year I started college, so after that I didn't spend much time with him. I really wish that we had had the chance to get to know him as an adult. I wonder where he would be, what he would be doing now, what could have been.

I don't know how God chooses when or if to intervene in our choices, our situations. But I do know this: God is love. Everything that God does or does not do comes from a place of complete, utter, unconditional, amazing love.

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