On a rainy day in Haiti, a group of Porch volunteers stopped under a thatched-roof shelter to talk with some locals who had gathered there. After sharing their testimonies and discussing faith for about 30 minutes, one of the locals said that he did believe in God, but did not trust in Him because he had no job, no money, and no wife. If God really loved him, why didn’t God give him those things?
Because he was in Haiti, and the conditions there are so poor, that might seem like a fair question. But what would it take for God to be considered good?
What is “Good”?
For example, let’s say that this same guy lived in America, did have a job and at least some money, but was still single. Now would you say that God’s been good? Or what if you got everything you ever wanted—for a while—but then lost it. Lost that perfect job, for instance, or had your dream home burn down. At what point, or at what threshold, does God stop being good?
I’m not saying that people in Haiti (or anywhere) don’t have huge problems. But this man did at least claim to believe that our God exists, which would mean that God created him and is responsible for his existence. He appeared to be about 30 years old and in good health, which would mean that, despite his situation, God had provided for him each day for the past 10,000 days. Does God not at least get credit for that?
When Bad Things Happen
OK, so this is all a matter of degrees. What about the truly bad things that happen? In Haiti I also heard a story, which I mentioned last Tuesday, about an American couple who visited Haiti in 1997. While there, they came across a young family with an extremely sick 1-year-old daughter. They rushed the father and daughter to the nearest clinic, which was 30 or 40 miles away, only to find out that the clinic was closed. At that moment, they heard the baby girl take her last breath, and die. They later determined that the girl died of starvation, and that the family had no food because they had given everything they owned to a Voodoo priest.
Now that’s really bad. How could a good God allow a 1-year-old to starve to death? The Bible says that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him,who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). So how could that possibly be for good, or have any purpose?
Certainly, that is the kind of thing you don’t just walk away and forget. The American couple couldn’t forget. They had to do something about it. So they quit their jobs, left everything they had, and moved to Haiti to devote the rest of their lives to mission work. And the result of that move, now 15 years later?
200 patients a day get the medical care that the little girl could not.
3,000 kids are getting a proper education in a country with no school system.
50,000 meals are given out to children around the country each day.
500 homeless families have new homes.
More than 60 abandoned orphans have a place to live, where they are cared for.
The parents who lost their child because of Voodoo now believe and follow Christ.
So, though we might not always see it from our limited perspective, God can and does turn even tragedies into a greater good.
I understand that some would say a good God would not allow pain at all. Of course, a good and loving God would have to allow free will, because without the freedom to choose He would just be creating robots, or slaves. And the freedom to choose necessarily means freedom to make bad choices, which lead to pain. But an all-powerful and fully good God could surely figure out some way to fix that, right? If He was perfectly and infinitely good, He would somehow take that pain on Himself, or sacrifice Himself to take on the consequences of people’s bad choices. And He would create a true paradise where people live forever, and there is no death, no pain, and no tears.
Wait, that sounds familiar…
What do you think? Is God good? How have you seen Him take what seemed to be bad and used it to accomplish a greater good?