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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Trusting His Plan: Thoughts on God and Why Bad Things Happen.

It's nearly Christmastime again maybe appropriately, I watched a movie which made me consider my faith a little bit differently.  It did not really change the core of my faith at all.  However, it gave me/reminded me an answer to the question that I've thought and I've heard many express:



How could a loving God allow bad things to happen?

I believe this can be a tough question for even the most devout people of faith.  Never-mind, those who are highly skeptical of Christianity, Catholicism and the like. God rest his soul, my Dad always would say, if there was really a God...and spout out a grievances in his life.  I would like to think he came to terms with God as his life was winding down, but that's beyond my control at this point. In a way, this is an example of  having to "Trust His Plan".   Anyway, I've heard other people along the way say show similar skepticism.  Either they questions whether God exists--how could there be a God..., questioned His nature or just outright question if He really takes a personal interest in His creation.  I am a man of faith, but even I've had my moments with this very question.

The movie I watched was called The Imitation Game.  To those unfamiliar with the plot, it was based on a true story of Alan Turing and his team's successful efforts to decipher Nazi messages encoded and sent by machines known as Enigma machines.  That is to say, break the code and be able to follow messages revealing information such as German troop and ship locations and movements.  Taking Turing's lead, they eventually were able to build a machine which could quickly decipher Enigma messages.  Given that the settings of the Enigma machines were changed daily, being able to decipher quickly was of paramount important.

Eventually, they were able to 'break the code' as it were.  That is, they were able to decipher the Enigma messages quickly before Enigma setting were changed daily.  In a scene that no doubt took liberties on historical facts, as soon as Turing's machine broke the code for the first time, it revealed the location of the German U-boats.  They were heading for a convey of ships meant to delivery supplies to the British.  One of Turing's team members had a brother in that convoy and he would likely be killed if the Germans U-boats were allowed to proceed unimpeded.  However, as Turing indicated, if the allies suddenly changed course and destroyed the German boats, it would be obvious to the Germans that their Enigma machine was compromised.  They'd then make adjustments which would effectively render the allies efforts ineffective.  Therefore, it was clear then that they could not and should not act on all the messages they'd deciphered.  They statistically determined  how much of the intelligence gleaned from Enigma that they could act upon without giving it away that they broke the code.  Also, they needed to make sure they'd be able to 'leak' a plausible cover story for how they got that intelligence that they acted on.

Given that they couldn't act upon all the information they had, it meant that some people that they could have saved would be allowed to die.  If the public had found out about they were not acting on all the intelligence they had, but didn't know the underlying reason, to them it would have seemed cruel and cold-hearted.  They would ask, how could a responsible government let citizens and allies perish if they had good intelligence on upcoming German attacks.  Effectively, the limited number of people who knew the 'The Plan', would appreciate why they didn't act on all the intelligence they had.  I suspect that even for some of those people, they probably cringed at how cruel it seemed.

--

My 'weak' understanding of "why bad things happen to good people' such as health issues and tragedies that befall them and sometimes their nations aren't necessarily a result of what they'd all had done or done recently.  Instead, some of it may have been a generational sin.  For example, in our own nation, we've come a long way towards recognizing the equality of people. Discrimination such as with Jim Crowe laws is not legally condoned anymore.  Yet we still have problems in this nation to this day.  My thought was that while I did not participate in the sin of slavery or Jim Crowe, problems and residual distrust that result from the sins of many generations, unfortunately do not just disappear overnight.  In other words, while I might have not participated in the sin, I can't escape the results of it. While I think this answer is sound, I don't necessarily think it can adequately cover 'why bad things happen to good people'.


I remembered in Biblical days, it was common to blame illnesses and problems on the sins of the family.  In John 9:2, Jesus' disciples took their understanding to Him:

John 9:2
His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Jesus knew that that was their understanding was flawed and said in John 9:3.  He knew that he man was 'allowed' to be born blind for a purpose:


"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.


The Imitation Game and Biblical stories like above really helped me to put it together I think.  In the case above, God's plan was that through the man's blindness, Jesus' healing power could be revealed.  I am not aware of this man's family and their faith, but I can imagine they might have to lean on 'Trusting His Plan" for why their son was born blind.   Similarly, in the movie, the populace had to 'Trust the Plan" for how their nation(s) fought WWII.  In other words, have a strong level of faith that leadership knew what they were doing, even when it might not always appear so.  Leadership could not always reveal the insight they had and why they made the choices they did.  Similarly, as in the movie and the Biblical story, God is aware that He should not reveal everything. It doesn't mean that God is cruel, that He doesn't care, or that He is okay when bad things happen.  On the contrary, by sending His Son to die for our sins, He showed how profoundly He cares for us.  What it may mean though is that there is a reason that we are not aware of why He allows bad things to happen.  In the The Imitation Game, the public was necessarily not aware of horrible choices that had to made to help shortened the war.  As indicated earlier, there was a reason for that.   Perhaps, in our own lives when tragedy befalls us or those close to us, God is aware of the big picture and realizes that for whatever reasons--our inability to comprehend, our unwillingness to accept, the need to defeating evil forces. etc--He cannot reveal His Plan for the big picture.

I guess ultimately for a person of faith the answer has to be to accept that:

  • God loves us and proved it with Jesus on the cross.
  • God hurts with us too.
  • Things may seem cruel or unfair, but as the movie and the Bible story illustrated, there really is a reason or "Plan" behind why things happen, even bad things.  It just is not always for us to know His will in our time.




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