Why do bad things happen? By Jim Ellor, and Maggie Mayo
Thursday, November 13th, 2014 @ 2:54PM
Bad things do seem to happen to good people, but they are just not supposed to happen to me? The blast in West came completely unexpected to the community. At the time, the shock, hurt and loss was overwhelming for a lot of people. As time has passed and there has been more time to reflect on the blast, the question of “Why,” continues in conversation. Why did this have to happen to my town, my friend, my home? In a community of many faith groups like West the question often becomes “why me/us God?” These are important questions that can be answered in a variety of different ways. There is no one “right” answer for the entire community. Not all Roman Catholics will agree on their answers any more than all Baptists or all Methodists. The focus for discussion needs to be on what seems to be helpful to each individual.
Here are some different ways to think about it. You will not agree with each one, you may not agree with any of them, but consider them as you shape your own response.
The first observation is that when we ask the question of “why” to God, our own answer will generally reflect our view of who God is in our lives. Is God active in the world? If so, then we would expect some kind of active response from God. Some may believe that God made the world, and then stepped back to allow God’s creation to continue the work in our everyday lives. If God is a just God, they how is what happened right or just?
Another way to think about it is that maybe human beings simply can’t know the mind of God. If that is the case, then the full answer to “Why?” may not be possible for human beings to comprehend. This is where trust in God or faith could come in. In God’s greater ability to know everything there is to know, maybe the answer is a mystery. A whole lot about God is a mystery to most people…and often we feel like that is a good thing. If we don’t know why this happened from God’s perspective, then maybe the new questions are, “Why not me?” What makes me or our town so special that it can’t happen there? Would you really wish this on any other community? Maybe a good answer is that we don’t know why this has happened, but we do know that God has walked with the community of West and each individual who lives there so that they can somehow get through this.
Here is one other way to think about this:
A promise to us from Scriptures is that “God makes all things work together for the good of those who serve Him” (Romans 8:28). The question of why bad things happen to good people now shifts to focus on this promise and to look not at why it happened but rather how is God now working in it? Professing this reassurance requires faith that if God is working for the final good of those who serve him then ultimately, somehow, even if it is not how we wanted it to work out, it will. For those familiar with it, a way of reframing this idea is found in the concept of suicide intervention. When a person considers ending their own life and makes a plan, it is because they have lost this faith that somehow things will ultimately work out. They cannot see past their immediate despair to a life worth living beyond. The key in the intervention becomes helping them to see past the crisis and have faith that they will get through this time. It WILL be painful. It WILL be hard. But it WILL happen if they have faith that something better is coming. This is true of a crisis like that in West where seeing how anything like it could ever be seen as just or work out somehow is possible. This is the hope professed in Romans 8:28. It is a not a promise that God will prevent every evil from happening in our lives. It is a promise that He is working through it, that He is not ignorant or ignoring our suffering. It is a statement of faith that something more is happening than what we can see and a message to have faith that you WILL get through this. It is not up to us to find a permanent solution to this temporary problem. God already has the permanent solution and we are watching it unfold.
The first of the 9 events will be presented by West Area Ministerial Alliance on Thursday, November 13 at 6:30 pm at the West Community Center. This free event will be open to all. The spiritual leaders of the West community will tackle the topic “Why do bad things happen?” Please join WAMA for this community sharing event as we continue to grow stronger in our faith in order to better serve our neighbors and the community of West. Dinner will be provided.