Why Does God Allow Bad Things To Happen?
If you’re anything like us, dinner time looks a lot like the end of the world.
Steam rises in a big, hazy cloud. Metal clangs and crashes. Hungry babies wail at my feet or in my arms, begging to be fed. Then there’s the lone grown up, running frantically, bouncing from place to place, trying to make sure everyone’s okay.
“Dinner time!” I adjust the baby on my hip, swipe the sheen of sweat from my forehead with the back of my arm, and dump a scoop of peas onto a plastic plate. “Time to help the family!”
Some of my kids moan, others resist. But whatever the case, someone leads the way to the kitchen and all my kids stomp in together.
Everyone will have to chip in to get the job done.
One of my daughters retrieves utensils and napkins (whether she got the correct kind or amount, heaven only knows) while the two-year-old carries his plate step-by-painstakingly-focused-step toward the table.
“How can I help?” my oldest asks.
Smiling, I give her a task I know she’ll love. “How about you get everyone’s milk?”
The young girl’s face lights up, excited to use her privilege of being the only kid allowed to pour milk from the gallon. Using all her strength, she heaves the huge jug from the refrigerator, then plops it onto the table beside three small cups. The lid clicks as she twists it off.
A brand new gallon.
She tilts the open container little by little. Her arms shake beneath its weight as she hoists it higher.
Then, like a tidal wave, the milk gushes out, splashing everywhere before pooling on the tile.
“I’m so sorry!” Her brow furrows with remorse.
“It’s okay. Accidents happen.” I hand her a towel. “Let’s clean it up.”
Together, on hands and knees, we wipe up the mess.
Eventually, everyone makes it to the table. Broken, messy, and imperfect. The napkins are scattered on the floor and only half of us have forks. We’re a total hodgepodge. A beautiful, jumbled mess. Some things are there, some aren’t. Like the set of my seven-year-old’s teeth.
But we’re together, and that’s what matters.
The serving didn’t have to be perfect. But it did need to be practiced.
After all, I could do all those things myself—pouring the milk, getting the utensils, setting the table. In fact, it’d probably be easier and quicker if I did.
But I don’t ask my children to set the table so they get really good at pouring milk or carrying full plates (though those skills do come in very handy).
I ask them to do those things so they can practice serving others. So they can make a habit of identifying someone’s need and then working to fulfill it. It’s for their good and the good of everyone around that I ask them to help.
How would they learn to serve, to help, to love, if I did it all for them?
That, I realize, is exactly what God does with us.
If you’re anything like me, when you check the news it looks a lot like the end of the world.
Another spike in coronavirus. Another human being mercilessly murdered. Another riot, another looting, another business up in flames.
Mess after mess after stinking mess.
I look to God then, asking why, why, would He allow this to happen?
Couldn’t He simply take it all away? Conquer COVID-19 and the global quarantine? Give people their jobs back? Eliminate racism and prejudice? Miraculously remove the hurt and anger that burns in wounded hearts?
The answer is yes. He could. In fact, it’d probably be easier and quicker if He did.
But how would we learn to serve, to help, to love, if He did everything for us?
It’s for our good and the good of everyone around us that God asks us to help. He allows there to be a need so we can identify it and work to fulfill it. And boy, does the world have a lot of needs right now.
My heart aches as I scroll through the news, finally becoming aware of some of my brothers’ and sisters’ needs. Never before did I realize the work that must be done.
“Time to help the family,” God says.
Some moan, others resist. But whatever the case, someone leads the way and lots of people begin to march together.
But everyone will have to chip in to get the job done.
Some will need to educate, others to learn. Some will raise funds. Still others will speak out against segregation and oppression. To be honest, I don’t even know all the millions of ways people can pitch in.
But I do hope that we will all eventually make it to the table. Broken, messy, imperfect. Because that is humanity. We’re a total hodgepodge. A beautiful, jumbled mess.
But we’d be together, and that’s what matters.
The serving wouldn’t have to be perfect. But it would need to be practiced.
“How can I help?” I ask.
Smiling, God gives me a task He knows I’ll love. “How about you write?”
My face lights up, excited to put my privileges to good use. Using all my strength, I plop myself in front of my computer and scrub the rust from my writing skills. The keys click as I etch black marks onto the blank page.
A brand new post.
The weight of these words is too much and I struggle to understand—let alone convey—the true state of our current reality. The immense sadness. The danger. The hurt. How these tragedies happened right under my nose without my recognition, and thus, without my efforts to stop them. I’ve dropped the ball, leaving not a pool of milk, but my neighbor’s blood on the ground.
“I’m sorry!” My brow furrows with remorse.
God simply hands me a towel. “Let’s clean it up.”