In these times of war, natural calamities, and personal pain, it is a common question with believers that why does evil happen to those who are good? In my previous post, I challenged each of us of our natural inclination towards God, whether we love Him or are embarrassed that He exists. This, in turn, is a question towards God’s love for us, and in what character He has faith in us or trust us.
Why does Rain Fall on the Just?
In these times of war, natural calamities, and personal pain, it is a common question with believers that why does evil happen to those who are good? In my previous post, I challenged each of us of our natural inclination towards God, whether we love Him or are embarrassed that He exists. This, in turn, is a question towards God’s love for us, and in what character He has faith in us or trust us. So why does the rain fall on the just? Here are the common reasons to this question, but although we accept it in faith, if we look at it closer, each reason is flawed:
1. Pain exists because we are tested by God. Why do we need to be tested by God? The usual answer is that He loves us. If one truly loves another, does he usually test her love with suffering and pain? Does someone actually inflict pain to a loved one, for the sake of testing her? In that same analogy, if God truly loves us, and has a bond of trust with us, why does he need to test our faith and love? Why does He need to inflict suffering and pain? Is not faith in humanity enough? Which also begs the question: does God have faith in humanity (it is easy to say that God does not)?
The other reasoning is that God wants to know if we are deserving of His love. To this we return to the question: if one loves another, does he need to inflict pain on her to know if she will remain faithful? Does a parent inflict pain on his son to test if he has faith on him? It comes back to a question of faith. Does God truly have faith in humanity?
2. Pain exists to remind us of God. Why does God need to inflict pain to remind us of Him? There is an implied truth that we are usually ignorant of God until we are made to suffer. Granted that this is true, is this also God’s natural assumption? That we are weak and not faithful to God? This is another test of trust and faith. However, there is the possibility that God accepts us even though He assumes we are weak. And that is probably the implied reasoning behind this explanation: that God assumes the worst for us. A loved one will not suffer another to be hurt just to be reminded of his love. Yet God will do it because He knows we are weak.
3. We reap what we sow. This explains that it is our own choice that bad happens to us. We engage in villainy and we suffer karma. But a man who has done good all his life, like Job of the Bible, suffers through calamities just as an evil man does.
4. What goes up, must come down. Or in other words, karma. It explains that for every good must be balanced an equal proportion of evil. That however, doesn’t explain the existence of overflowing suffering which is disproportionate to the good. And is good dependent on the existence of evil? Is God of dual nature: good and evil? If not, then good can exist without the need for evil. Why, then, does it exist?
5. The rain falls on the just and the weak. This is the most practical and natural of reasons. This assumes either of two cases: either God does not directly involve Himself with the works of the world, or that God is not relevant. The latter reasoning has gained strength in recent times. Here, we believe that we alone are the masters of the world, that God is a distant being that does not care. In the first, it is assumed that God does not control the world, that it exists on its own, independent on God’s will. And yet if we are to believe in God, He does control the world, that everything that happens is in accordance to His will. So we safely assume that pain happens to us in accordance to His will. That the natural order happens with His acquiescence. This follows several assumptions: that though God loves us, He wills pain to us, both the wicked and the just. That love does not factor in our fates, and the good are not privileged to be exempted from pain. This is the closest reasoning. But does someone allow pain and suffering to happen to his loved one? And in instances where pain and suffering overflows (e.g., the Holocaust, massacres, torture, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.), can a loved one truly allow the overflow of pain to someone he loves?
Based on the closest reasoning, it is assumed that pain and suffering is in the natural scheme of things, that the world is willed by God to be that way. The trust that we question in God is the trust that, although suffering will happen to us in the natural order, that we may remain faithful to Him. That, however, challenges the truth within God’s love, and faith in humanity. He allows overflowing suffering to happen to the just (though it happens equally to the wicked). Can true love allow insurmountable pain to someone devoted to him? And there is also an assumption that God does not have faith in humanity’s endurance in devotion.
To those who think that I have come too far in challenging the will of God, let us turn to the parable of Job. Job, in the Bible was a good man, who suffered untold pain and calamity. He lost everything, even his health (Job 1-2). At the point of desperation, he scolds God for allowing suffering to happen to him. His friends try to dissuade him with reasoning similar to the ones above. (Job 3-21) God replies He is the ultimate Creator, and can do whatever He wants, without question (Job 40-41). This is not a loving God. This is an arbitrary one.
At the same vein, He justifies Job’s anger and scolds his friends for dissuading him, and for being wrong. (Job 42:7-8) Therefore, we can question His actions, and it is right to do so.
This much I can see: why does evil fall on the just? Love is not in the equation.
You may also read:
God is an Embarrassment in our Lives
Sainthood and the Moral Horizon
A Parable on Social Justice