God’s will

Why do bad things happen to good people (gag reflex must now be suppressed…)? The fancy term for this is theodicy, or, in question form again, “how can a loving God allow evil to exist?”

John Piper, in a recent essay, reframes this question as “If God Wills Disease Why Should We Try to Eradicate It?” This isn’t quite a theodicy question, Rather, it is one of giving in to a sense of helplessness. If we believe in a sovereign God, what’s the point of fighting against what He has ordained?

None at all, if one believes that we’ve no free will to follow, or not follow, what John Piper calls God’s “will of command.” But we do, of course, have free will. Which fallen mankind uses so often to deny God and to become agents of Satan. Which I would posit as a prime cause of much of the havoc wreaked by disease and other acts of God such as hurricanes and tsunamis. Small example: people in coastal areas allowed, or even encouraged to rebuild flimsy homes that are virtually certain to be destroyed, come the next tsunami.

John Piper correctly states “God is as much in charge of the research as he is of the disease.” I would broaden this, and state “God is as much in charge of natural disaster prevention and mitigation as he is of the disasters.” What is left unanswered, because it is, as yet, unanswerable, is “Why does God give us disease and disasters to begin with?”

For now, however, I’m content to let the question rest, unanswered, with these words from John Piper:

God does not permit things willy-nilly. He permits things for a reason. There is infinite wisdom in all he does and all he permits. So what he permits is part of his plan just as much as what he does more directly.

One of our goals in the here and now is to understand where we are called to be God’s agents in preventing and alleviating human suffering. And, once we understand, to act on that understanding.

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