Haiti earthquake.jpg
Why Haiti? Why suffering? We’ve gone here many times on Beyond Blue.

But whenever a friend asks me, “How can you believe in a good God when horrendous tragedies like Haiti happen all the time?” I open my mouth, but no words come out.

So I go and open the notes from a course I took in college called “The Problem of Evil.” (Fortunately I am a hoarder, clutter-magnet, who keeps every piece of paper.) And I look up this question: “As Christians we believe God is all-powerful, right? And good? And knowing? So, now tell me again, how is it that these things happen?… “

My college professor, Dr. Joe Incandela, would say something like this:

I think the major divide in theology is between those who (like Harold Kushner, “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?”) affirm a limited (suffering) God and those who want to stick to the traditional divine attributes (like Thomas Aquinas). While it may give us all sorts of warm squishies to think of a God who suffers alongside us, what we really want is a God who can SAVE us from suffering. That is, if I’m drowning and someone else is next to me in the water who also cannot swim, I might appreciate the company, but I would really question what the ultimate benefit of that company is.

Okay. I get that. But if God CAN save us and is just and good, then why doesn’t he choose to save us? Or save us all the time? Also, if all evil isn’t attributed to the Fall, then what do we as Christians attribute it to?

I look in my notes one more time where Dr. Incandela says:

If God saved us all the time, then the world would be so unpredictable that it would lack the kind of stability needed for most human activity. This has been called the ‘cosmic nursery school’ view–one does good and gets rewarded, and does bad and gets punished. But if that happened all the time, then God would be constantly intervening in the world in ways that would make any sort of regularity in our lives look impossible. It would also make something like compassion impossible. Compassion (or work for justice or whatever good deed you want to substitute here) requires a regular world, and a regular world means that some people get hurt who don’t deserve to get hurt. I suppose that in a broad sense, this all can be attributed to the Fall. But I think that another reasonable answer is that this is the price of a finite world. Only God is infinite and unlimited. Because of that, any created entity will be corruptible or conflicted in some way. Corruptible or conflicted things tend to rub up against other corruptible or conflicted things, and the result is physical or moral evil.

I don’t know. I still really don’t get it. I can’t articulate it when friends pop the question. The only thing coming out is drool. Or a peak at the spinach I had for lunch.

But this I do know: God is with me. And with you. And with everyone in Haiti. And that our prayers are heard.

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