Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How can He allow it?

In my short life, I have heard many people say, "If there is a God, how can He allow such a thing?"  The "such-a-things" have included:

Devastating earthquakes

Hurricane Katrina
Stalin's purges
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ
Disfiguring birth defects
Catholic priests molesting young boys
Allied bombings of Leipzig and Dresden in WWII
50,000,000 U.S. abortions since 1973
Roseanne Barr singing the national anthem

The logic behind the question is probably as follows -

"I think that if there were a God, He would be so benevolent that He would definitely intervene before any of the above horrors could occur."  

So, the assumption is that, since those things did and do occur, there must be no God.  I guess, if you are inclined to be an unbeliever, that is a pretty convenient and callous excuse for sitting on the fence, either insisting that God must not exist or that, if He does exist, He is a real jerk.  I think this kind of reasoning manufactures a million new liberals every year.

The answer to this mystery is at once the cause of the problem itself.  We have no recollection of the life we experienced before coming to earth.  We don't remember the God who raised us.  We are tempted to conclude that this life is "all there is".  If there was no life before this one - and no life after it, then the inequities of our mortal experience are galling and inexplicable.  Why are some people born into the "lap of luxury" and others in the abject deprivations of a dark jungle?

I suggest that our God DOES exist and that He is PERFECTLY just and compassionate.  Plus - He knows exactly what He is doing.  He is perfectly competent and reliable. Furthermore, I shall argue that one of His primary objectives is to guard and cultivate our FREE AGENCY.  Everything we are is both "thanks to" Him, and a direct result of our own choices.  Why then, do we have to come to this grim sphere and suffer either brief or protracted torment?  I submit that it is so that we can come face to face with adversities tailored specifically for us, and make choices, sometimes tough choices.

If you look at the life circumstances of each of God's earthly children, you will see vast differences in conditions and opportunities.  Despite the machinations of Obama and other arch-socialists like Van Jones, there is no way you can "equalize" the station of all six billion mortals.  Some will die of HIV as infants.  Many won't survive till birth.  Others will live long, rich lives and win the praise of millions (see Pope John Paul II).  How can we reconcile these inequalities?

Who gets to decide under what conditions we enter this mortal life?  I believe that we lived with our kinfolk and our exalted parents for a long time before we came here.  We exercised our free will and made good and bad choices.  We grew and learned, and formulated opinions.  Some were faithful, and some were less so.  Eventually, our Father reminded us that, if we wanted more fulfillment and progression, we needed to pass on and receive a mortal body.  There were millions of parents on earth preparing to conceive children.  Which embryo should we be sent into?  I believe that there were critical discussions (and perhaps negotiations) regarding which family we would join - which country and century we would grow up in.  Our Heavenly Father probably also reminded us that we had demonstrated certain shortcomings and failings in our "pre-mortal" life - weaknesses that could best be remedied by a certain set of conditions and challenges.  Thankfully, with His perfect foreknowledge, God could see in advance what trials we needed, and He exercised perfect wisdom in guiding us into the family and environment where we stood the best chance of confronting and conquering those weaknesses IF WE WANTED TO.  We, of course, saw the wisdom and merits of His recommendations and GLADLY signed on - eager to progress and savor the thrills and spills of a telestial, mortal (corrupt) experience.  Whichever way you slice it, by participating in the decision of where and when we were born, God set in motion (and became the CO-AUTHOR of) every future experience in our lives. Are we willing to take that "faith-leap" and accord Him our trust?  Can we be grateful that He allowed all of it?

So, in order for God to protect our agency and free will, He had to step back.  He had to "turn us loose" in a world where His assistance could perhaps only be gained through sacrifice and prayer - otherwise we are pretty much "on our own".  He had to "make Himself scarce" so that we wouldn't count on Him to fix every little boo-boo or answer every childish question.  It is also very important that we learn to take responsibility for our own decisions and futures (although some never will).

The downside of living in this, a corruptible, "telestial" world is that anything can go wrong, and people can be really rotten. We look at our injuries and illnesses as loss and punishment. We resent adversity because we don't immediately appreciate the opportunity and growth it affords us.  We look up to the heavens and ask, "Why would you inflict this sorrow on me?  Surely I have done nothing to deserve it!"

We become victorious when we finally arrive at the point where, instead of cursing God for our difficulties, we recognize that He co-authored this mortal experience with us, and with the express purpose of helping us to be better and have more joy.  If this life is brief (and it is when compared to eternity), then would we not rather achieve lasting joy and blessings than demand only the fleeting satisfactions of this life?

And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, . . . .D & C 59:20

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