Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
Today, five days after the Tsunami, an acquaintance at work, a man in his fifties, told me that on the afternoon of 9/11/01, he opened the Bible to the book of Habakkuk. He said that once he read it, he saw the parallel to 9/11 clearly and immediately became a believer in the word of God.
He pointed out this passage near the end of the book:
"Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyfull in God my Savior."
Habbakkuk 3:17 - 3:18
Next to the first six of the above above verses, my friend wrote the word, "Dead." He is an immigant from a country that was all agricultural and understands full well, more than any native born American would, that if you don't have those things, you are dead!
About that passage in Habakkuk, I asked my friend, "But then why do they rejoice?"
"Because they are saved," he said.
"The Christian understanding of evil has always been more radical and fantastic than that of any theodicist; for it denies from the outset that suffering, death and evil have any ultimate meaning at all. Perhaps no doctrine is more unsufferably fabulous to non-Christians than the claim that we exist in the long meloncholy aftermath of a primordial catastrophe, that this is a broken and wounded world, that cosmic time is the shadow of true time, and that the universe languishes in bondage to "powers" and "principalities"--spiritual and terrestial--alien to God.
In the Gospel of John, especially, the incarnate God enters a world at once his own and yet hostile to him--"He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not--and his appearence within "this cosmos" is both an act of judgement and a rescue of the beauties of creation from the torments of fallen nature.
"Whatever one makes of this story, it is no bland optimism. Yes, at the heart of the Gospel is an ineradicable triumphalism, a conviction that the victory over evil and death has been won; but it is also a victory yet to come."
"When confronted with the sheer savage immensity of worldly suffering--when we see the entire littoral rim of the Indian Ocean strewn with tens of thousands of corpses, a third of them children's--no Christian is licensed to utter odious banalities about God's inscrutible counsels or blaphemous suggestions that all this mysteriously serves God's good ends. Wwe are permitted to only hate death and waste and the imbecile forces of chance that shatter living souls, to believe that creation is in agony in its bonds, to see this world so divided between two kingdoms--knowing all the while that it is only charity that can sustain us against, "fate," and that must do so until the end of days."
- David Hart, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 31, 2004; a quote from the Houses of Worship collumn; titled, "Tremors of Doubt."
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adaption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."
[Romans 8:18 - 8:25]