Monday, October 24, 2011

Trying to Answer: Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen? (part 1 of a 3 part series)

Let me first say:  On the scale from 1-10 of "The Most Horrible Things that Could Happen" I live at a one.  Really.  I haven't known a lot of horror, lucky me.  I've had a few bummers to deal with.  All of us do.  And sometimes circumstances lead us to wonder, "Why does God Allow Bad Things to Happen?"  If he truly is God--all-powerful, all-knowing, omniscient Alpha and Omega--then why?  Why allow the innocent to suffer?  Or evil to go unpunished?  Why the needless destruction and misery?  Why, dear God, is life so unfair?

It's not a new question.  I'm not the first and will certainly not not be the last to wonder what exactly is going on up there in the heavens.  ("Hello, up there...Anybody home?")  It's a fundamental question of anyone of faith.  My own religious faith is so much a part of my guiding voice that I can not examine these questions without referring to it.

As a part of my faith, I believe that we lived with God before ever coming to earth, and I believe the answer begins there in this premortal existence.  There we were first given and exercised our agency--the ability to act according to the moral agency which God gives us and to be accountable for those choices. 

We lived with a loving Father, whose goal was and is to see us progress in light, understanding, and knowledge, so that we could become like Him and live with Him forever.  To do this we needed experience.  And Father set forth a plan where we would come to earth, receive a body, choose to act between good and evil, and progress.  Our agency was central to that plan.

The Book of Mormon 2 Nephi chapter 2 is an outstanding lesson on the gift of agency, and I'll borrow from it liberally to explain.  If we had not been given the ability to choose "we would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for we would know no misery.  Doing no good, for we would know no sin."  And so God--knowing we would hurt, loved us enough to want us to grow and allowed us to act for ourselves, which would be impossible except that we be enticed by the one or the other.  Therefore, it needs be that there is an opposition in all things.  Righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad.  And so it needs be that all of these things--both the light and the dark--should be part of this existence.  Without this opposition there would be no choice, and without choice no agency, and without agency no progress.  And then the whole point of our existence here would be frustrated; we and the earth would be been created for a thing of naught; wherefore there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation.  It would have destroyed the wisdom of God and his eternal purposes as well as His power, and mercy, and justice.

This world was put in place to be the best learning lab for each of us. Yes, it is imperfect, and unjust, and unfair, but in all of that it is the perfect place for us to learn discernment, to practice choice, and to determine our responses to circumstances not of our choosing. I am not convinced that God "sends" any hardship into our lives, but I know that he created a place where they would certainly be encountered.

This opportunity we have been given to face opposition may be the most meaningful expression of God's belief in us.  Marion D. Hanks said that "He loves us and believes in us and has done and will do anything He can to help us, but He will not impose on our agency.  God so loved that He would not shield us from the perils of freedom, from the right and responsibility to choose.  So deep is His love and so precious that principle the He, who was conscious of the consequences required that we choose...freedom is precarious, difficult, but we had learned that the alternatives to love and freedom of choice cannot provide the climate for growth and creative capacity that can eventually lead us to a a stewardship like our Father's."

Why does God allow bad things to happen? Because he loves us. He knew we would hurt. That sometimes we would fail. That we would lose those we loved. He could keep us safe, but he loves us enough to let us go, to let us live, to let us learn, to let us grow.

(to be continuted...)

Friday, October 21, 2011


Blogging for 4 years has revealed some things to me about myself.  The first being my consistency for inconsistency...but I already knew that, so that's not really a revelation.  But what I didn't know about myself is that when life punches me in the gut--or even jabs with its left a little--I retreat somewhere inside myself.  Not forever, but for a little while.

When the earth suddenly shifts, I am not ready to talk about it.  Not really to anyone.  Not in depth.  I just need to think.  To find that sure place inside me while the initial shock sorts out and the remaining dust settles around me.  That's where I've been for a little while.  Someplace quiet, waiting for things to settle.

We are in the midst of job changes again.  AGAIN.  (Argh)  Poor Mr. Wicke is the hardest working man I know, but these last few years have been a struggle.  (What?  Not just us?)  This time, due to government cutbacks (which we support, by the way) the research project of which he has been apart for Homeland Security--which was supposed to be a 6-year $4 million dollar grant--disappeared with government cutting educational research by 81%.  For us that means that about half of our income disappeared with it.  We have about 6 months to figure this out.

Did you feel the earth shift?  Shhhh...I need to think.

I've even gotten a little quiet with God.  Probably not a great thing, but like I told Him in prayer, I don't know how to pray about this any more.  I'm tired...and the words get all jumbled up with frustration.  I'm figuring it out in that quiet place inside me.  When I get clear, I will be ready to speak.  Maybe that is what all this quiet is about...just listening.  Hearing in the stillness.

Or maybe it's pride...
and anger...

Maybe it's all of it all at the same time.  That's what I mean about settling.  I'm waiting to see what remains when all those emotions fall away and I can hear my guiding voice again.  It's still there.  Somewhere inside myself.