Saturday, January 16, 2010

Questions that Shake Us All

The earthquake in Haiti should remind us of old questions, not new. Why does evil exist? Why do people suffer? Why do bad things happen? I often hear this last question phrased as "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

Jesus was approached by a man who predicated a question by addressing Jesus as "Good teacher". Jesus asked him in Mark 10:18, "Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone."

If we really want to know about suffering and evil, we also need to know about goodness. What does it mean for something to be good? I realize that not everyone reading this posting even believes in the existence of good and evil. Some people believe that these definitions are imaginary and arbitrary in the sense that what we call "good" and "evil" is merely what we like. We might call something pleasurable good and something associated with suffering evil. Of course many people call sex outside of marriage evil, or a drug-induced high to be at least a bad thing.

These are just two examples of things that might bring short-term pleasure for long-term loss or suffering. Let me suggest that these things bring pleasure within the "smaller picture", but there is a "larger picture", a "greater purpose" to serve. If we serve that "greater purpose", if we are driven by it, we inevitably will be drawn to what we commonly call "good".

My favorite Christian teacher, Steve Brown ( says, "Everyone needs a metanarrative." We all need a larger story to explain the small stories of our lives.

My heart goes out to the Haitian people. I don't understand the smaller story. I can't dogmatically say why this has happened, but I can respond with love, prayers and giving because my life is driven by a larger story, His story.

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