Our special guest today is author Chet Galaska. Chet was an atheist who became a believer slowly over time as he approached faith with an open mind. As he wandered along the road to faith, he looked for an easy-to-read guide to help him understand Christianity. He didn't find what he was looking for; so he decided to write, Finding Faith in a Skeptical World for skeptics and seekers to help them grasp Christian issues.
One of the most challenging aspects of Christianity is accepting that bad things happen to everyone--even those who believe in God and follow His laws. I asked Chet to address this issue today.
If God exists, why does he let bad things happen?
This is really a question of who God is. If you think God’s purpose is to make sure nothing bad ever happens to anybody, you’ve got a point – that God doesn’t exist. But many think that if this cosmic Santa Claus they’ve dreamed up doesn’t exist, then no God exists at all or, if he does, he can’t be good or merciful.
This couldn’t be more untrue. God is an honest realist who told us through the Bible that natural disasters will occur and warned us of man’s destructive traits. He’s also explained that he has a longer view of things than mankind: his perspective is eternal. And he’s shown man the way to obtain the best gift ever conceived: eternal life.
This gift is available to those who love God. God desires heartfelt love and the only way man can freely give it is if he isn’t enticed or pushed into it. This is where our imperfect world comes into play. God won’t manipulate the world to extricate love because the love he desires is genuine, not fake.
Fake love is given all the time. Tyrants have a fetish for crowd adulation, and they get it by holding massive rallies where thousands of people shout their love and support. But many of these people attend only because the consequences of not going are beatings or jail time. This love is coerced.
There’s another way to get sham love: bribery. Anna Nicole Smith was an exotic dancer who married an 89-year-old billionaire who showered her with millions of dollars in cash and gifts. He died months after the marriage, and she contested his estate in court by claiming that her husband always said she could have half. It sure looked like she loved the money, not him.
Because God doesn’t seek fake love, he won’t coerce man to express it. He also won’t bribe him for it by fixing every problem and answering every prayer. He’s given us free will, which means we’re able to make up our own minds. We can ignore God and muddle through life or we can genuinely love him and embrace his peace.
The bad things that happen – hurricanes, diseases, corruption, murder and thousands of others – are part of an imperfect world that’s a stage on which man can choose to love God and receive eternal life, strength, forgiveness and a peace that transcends worldly problems. These gifts from God let man put his short, finite life on earth in perspective and understand that this world is just a prelude to eternal life. Those who’ve accepted God know the reality of this peace and, because of it, they know the reality of God himself.
God is real, he’s good and he’s merciful. But he operates in ways that man, engulfed by worldly concerns, often refuses to see.