Well, that was ironic. Last night I had my last uni lecture for the semester. I was riding a high: it had been a great class and I had (at least I thought I had) delivered a great presentation to the class on "why bad things happen to good people". As I was driving home in my little yellow granny car, I heard a snap and a rattle coming from under the bonnet, followed by a whining, followed by puffs of black smoke coming out of my exhaust..........My car broke.Why do bad things happen to good people (or bad people or people in between, for that matter)???
It's an age old question, isn't it? And I think it stirs so much passion because it's not just an issue for intellectual or theological debate, but because it effects real people and it touches our lives. Bad stuff happens. A lot. That causes a dilemma or tension: God is love, but bad stuff happens. If God is all loving, why does God allow it to happen? If God is all powerful, why doesn't God stop it from happening?
To be honest, I don't want to know all the answers. If I could know why bad things happen, then I could just explain them away without feeling compelled to do anything to stop them. So my car broke down. It's annoying and frustrating and it's going to cost a lot to fix and I don't get to go to the school I was meant to speak at today (sorry Marymount!!!) At the end of the day I know there are people in the world who are bearing a greater burden than having to get their car fixed. I know because I've seen it: in Cambodia, in the Philippines. Heck it's not even just a third-world problem, look around your neighbourhood/school/work place and you'll see people battling with stuff. Bad stuff.
Here's the thing that gets me: The kids I met in Cambodia, my family in the Philippines, those battlers around you; they don't give up. There's a dream of a life without those burdens. We don't have to live with a lot of the bad stuff in the world. Call it faith, call it hope, call it wishful thinking, but perhaps the best explanation of why bad stuff happens is because it doesn't have to happen. Perhaps the answer to why bad stuff happens is our own efforts to stop it happening. To have Christian faith is to be compelled to love. A love that I believe could alleviate the bad stuff our brothers and sisters around us are burdening.
Love doesn't fix a car (if only). Nor does it stop an earthquake. But love does heal wounds, it does draw people into relationship, it does restore faith.
So, heart broken (and I'm sure soon to be savings account broken) I'll endure the burden of having a broken car, because I know there a people who will go through much worse today. And I hope. I don't know why God doesn't stop bad stuff from happening, but part of me feels like God must also be frustrated (remember, bad stuff happened to Jesus too.) I might not be zipping around in my little yellow granny car today, but it's a reminder for me to be aware to the burdens of those around me. Maybe, I can do my bit today to ease the bad stuff going on in someone else's life.