When talking with novice travelers or neophytes on the pathway of Spiritual Christianity
I have often been asked, “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?” Perhaps the following article written after the 2001 New York City World Trade Center attacks may shed light, plant seeds, or encourage thoughtful and reflective ideas on this topic and question.
There is a lesson for each of us in the terrorism of our world. It is not however a lesson in conflict. It is not a lesson in economics. It is not a lesson in politics or religion. It is a lesson in none of these. Terrorism, and other ‘bad things’ or events, which take place everyday and affect millions of individuals or families, young and old, rich and poor, members of every race, ethnic group or status level, simply happen. For many the question of ‘why’ is often followed by blame, condemnation or consequence, which points to or calls into question God’s presence, or seemingly lack thereof.
It is imperative to remember, especially for the ‘believer’ that God’s activity or inactivity in our lives is of His choosing and His timetable. Suffice it to say, all events which we experience up close and personal or from afar can be tests of our faith and belief. Events and their consequences are often the results of the choices we make. As such our experiences may come in relation to one or more of these three forms:
1) According to God’s plan for our lives.
2) By accident.
3) By actions perpetrated by the forces of the world, or forces of evil in our world.
This answer may or may not be an adequate explanation around the water cooler or in the classroom, but what about for everyday real life? Why do bad things happen to good people?
Christian believers say they trust in the words of Jesus Christ. So, let’s look at what He has to say. Jesus explained to His listeners and so too does for us, “No one is good, no not one, except God alone.” (Mk 10:18, Lk 18:19)
Jesus is telling us something very important about people who perish throughout the world under all kinds of different circumstances regardless of the particular day or event. He is also telling us something very important about ourselves. Not one of the people who have perished in the turmoil and tragedies of our day, whether in New York City, Iraq, Israel, or Timbuktu is good. “No, not one.” (Psalm 14:3) Each of them had sinful lives, just like you and me. We know nothing of each of their individual situations and how they acted or behaved in their lives behind closed doors. What we do know is that those whose lives are cut short by unforeseen events can be a reminder to be heeded.
The only one who knows when your last day and hour will be is God. When He is ready for you, will you be ready? Were all the people who perished Sept. 11, 2001 ready? Were any of them ready? We have no way of knowing. The single blessing for those who might have realized that their deaths were imminent was that they had an opportunity to make their peace with God.
This is a lesson is for all of us as survivors. It is not one of economics, religion, politics, or terrorism. It is a lesson of personal choice and personal action. It is a lesson which is twofold: First, “None of us is good, no, not one.” And second, only God Himself knows the last day and hour. That of the world’s and of each of us. When He is ready, will you be? Make your peace with God today, right now. Not only will you be more prepared, you’ll be blessed, here and hereafter.
In the Hawaiian language, "Mana'o" (ma na o) is the word used to describe 'thoughts, ideas, and opinions'.
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