Dear reader, you may be aware that my goal for lent was to strip my life of the things that distract me in order to focus on this question : Is God really real? Seeing the movie God's Not Dead brought me face to face with this question. And so I ask again, and I search.
When I talk to an Atheist, main topics include the question 'If God is real and good, then why does he allow horrible things to happen? If he does, he has horrible moral standards!'
My friend, does he have horrible moral standards, or are we at odds with our desire for freedom of choice and relief from any type of hardship?
Let's consider this in depth. You may be familiar with a book called The Giver. You may be interested to know that they are coming out with a movie based on this story. In this make believe society, all inhabitants conform to a way of life that they agreed on long ago, and of which they submit their children. In an effort to be unaffected by any type of pain, they agreed to live in a world devoid of anything that could cause discomfort. This world they created had no weather changes, so they would never be too hot or too cold. They were given jobs to do, so that no one could be without purpose. Assigning each family a boy and girl child, no mother and father would feel the pain of having no children, and no child would be homeless. With the elderly and unwanted going to 'another city', they would never experience the pain of death.
Would you want to live in this society? Before you answer, you might like to know what this cost them. With no weather changes, there children would never build a snowman or play in the sun. With no choice in jobs, they could not dream and explore. Being given two children, these parents would never experience the joy of a unique family of their own flesh and blood. With the elderly gone, they would not grow old watching their grandchildren grow up. These fabricated livelihoods protected them from immediate threats that seemed life ending, but stripped them of the day to day joys of living life to the full.
Even though we see this scenario in books and in movies, and are appalled by what we see, we still blame God for not creating this seemingly perfect society for us. Why does a good God allow all these things to happen? Why doesn't he protect us from all these things that plague our world? Using the same logic, I must ask, if God indeed created this society for us, would we be calling foul for all the things we were missing out on? We will have to sacrifice these experiences if we want a life devoid of pain.
We are asking God to essentially take away the pain, but in some way leave the experience. That is like going on a water ride to cool off, but requiring that you don't get wet. Or wanting to build a sandcastle, but not get your hands dirty. Every experience is made up of lots of little pieces in a puzzle, and when you start taking these pieces away, you will never have the whole picture.
God allows these experiences because he intends to leave our free will intact. He will not create a society like the one in The Giver, because rather than forcing us to conform to a belief and lifestyle, he invites us to freely choose his love. And when we freely choose, and allow our hearts to truly experience the world he has given us, then we will truly embrace the experience of his love.
Now it's time for you to choose. Would you rather a society without pain or a life with choices and experiences?