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Bad things happening to good people?
Dear Father Paul: My good friend recently died from cancer after suffering for over a year. She was a really good person and didn’t deserve to die in such a way. She was a Christian. How could God have allowed that to happen? — Nancy.
Dear Nancy: I am sorry for your loss. This must be a very difficult time for you, but thank you for writing. Your question is one of the most difficult questions in theology and we pastors get it a lot. Since I am not God, the most honest answer I can give is, “I simply don’t know for sure. But perhaps the following comments will help.” Keep in mind that I come from a Biblical (God centered) world view, not a secular world view.
First, the Bible teaches that God is eternal, infinite, omniscient (all knowing), omnipresent (everywhere all of the time), and omnipotent (all powerful) … and that we, as humans, are not. For this reason, it is impossible for us (in this life) to understand all of God’s ways and why God does what he does. We do know, however, that God is also a loving father to that which he has created and that as such, he has a plan for each of our lives that is infinitely better than any plan we could possibly have for ourselves.
Second, we also know from the Bible that, because of man’s fall resulting from his sin in the Garden of Eden, we humans are a fallen race, living on a fallen planet. To believers, the fall of man recorded in the Bible is not some kind of “myth,” but an enduring and eternal truth. If you stop and think about it, “the fall” plainly explains all of human history on the earth from that time until today … why everything has happened just as it has, and why there is so much evil in the world.
God said in Genesis chapters 1 – 3 when he created man and woman, (I’m paraphrasing) … “you can choose me as your father, or choose my enemy Satan as your father. I give you the gift of free choice. But know that choosing me will bring blessings and the abundant life while choosing Satan will bring pain, suffering and death.” We know that Adam and Eve chose Satan over God and that, again, all of the human race has suffered little but pain, suffering and death ever since.
Basically, man and woman gave away their God given ownership of planet earth to Satan, resulting in the planet becoming a battlefield between good and evil from that time until today. Cancer, dementia, heart disease and the like are the result. Your friend’s cancer did not come from God, but (again) from Satan. He hates God and wants to destroy the entire human race because we were created in the image of God and we have the potential, by the blood of Jesus Christ, to undo and overcome the curse of sin, and once again dwell in loving harmony with God. Satan knows, as well, that he can never ever regain that which he has lost. Basically, Satan knows God still loves us, in spite of our sin, and he tries to hurt God by hurting that which God loves … us.
So … we are all living our lives literally on a planet which is, in essence, a terrible and violent battlefield. And we all (good and bad alike) walk on this battlefield daily with mine fields, machine gun fire and explosions all around us … hurting, wounding and killing us in our flesh, but in our souls and spirits as well. We are all, as it were, “in the line of fire.” The Bible teaches that this situation will continue until Jesus, “the Prince of Peace,” returns to the earth to restore everything to its original state.
This, according to the Bible, is why your precious friend died and why (I am sorry to say) both you, I and everyone else living on planet earth today will die as well … and, that if we do manage somehow to live a happy, healthy life and die peacefully in our sleep at age 99, it is only because of God’s grace.
All of which should cause all believers to declare, as the Apostle John said in the very last words of the Bible, in Revelation 22 … “even so, come soon Lord Jesus,” and also cause those who are not believers to become believers.
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[Father Paul Massey is pastor of Church of the Holy Cross in Fayetteville, Ga. If you are searching for a church home, we may be just the place you are looking for. You are cordially invited to worship with us on an upcoming Sunday. Directions, worship times, more information about the church and Sunday messages are at www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com ]