2001-07-23 - Theodicy
James 5:11 Behold, we count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and have seen the outcome of the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.
Okay, Here is my question...Why do bad things happen? I have a beautiful 12 year old with Cystic Fibrosis. This is a devastating disease that scars the lungs and eventually cuts the oxygen supply so low that the person dies. What good can come from a child suffering?
Theodicy is a term coined by the philosopher Gottfried Leibnez who lived from 1646-1716. The concept behind the term is "How do we justify the conflicting concepts of a just and loving God with the reality of suffering and evil?" This has been an endless debate in the church and there are no simple or easy answers. For some there are no answers that satisfy period.
I have made attempts at this question from time to time, especially as I have answered really heart wrenching questions like the one I am faced with today. It is never easy. Today I would like to take what I think is an approach I have not tried in the past.
The story of Joseph is found in Genesis chapters 37-46. He was dealt a very raw deal when his brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt because they were jealous of him and his nice coat. He could have thought, "This is not fair. A loving God would not treat me this way. I don't deserve this."
We do not see this happening, however. He remains faithful to God and we find that what seemed to be a bad thing was really God's plan to save his family which eventually became the people of Israel. My point is that God's plans are beyond our plans and His ways are past finding out, Isaiah 55:8-9. Sometimes that which looks bad is really God's plan of preserving us, strengthening our faith, or saving us from some worse evil that we don't even know about.
Another approach to the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" is to ask a different question. "Why do good things happen to bad people?" We live in a world that has rebelled against God in sin. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 So we must ask ourselves, "Why is God merciful? Why does anything go well with us?" Even at our best we still fall short of God's standards. What a blessing it is that things go as well as they do.
However, this may be of little comfort for you because you see other families in your town who are not laden with the struggles that your child and subsequently you also have. I am sure that it doesn't seem fair and it isn't. You are blessed in one way, as you say, "I have a beautiful 12 year old," but that blessing must seem to have come with a curse because of your situation. You will have to try to approach this with the mindset that God does not make mistakes and questions such as, "Why me?" can only be addressed to God and then I think we can only long for an answer that satisfies until heaven when we shall know all things, 1 Corinthians 13:9-12.
I hope that some of the thoughts above are an encouragement to you and that you, your son or daughter, and family are given a special measure of grace to endure this struggle that faces you.
Soli Deo Gloria,