Pour la version française de cet article, cliquez ici
There are times when one wonders if God has organized things in such a way that there is no way to ignore some of the harsh realities of living on this earth of ours. Some say that circumstances accumulate to bring about a very good or very bad outcome. Others say that everything is subject to God’s will. Finding out what is real is a great mystery.
Not long ago, I experienced a few days that brought the death of two people and the bullying of a third. For a moment I thought that something had gone wrong on a cosmic level. All sorts of thoughts went through my mind, some more disturbing than others.
So much of what we experience in life, what we go through, seems random and harsh. There is so much freedom in creation that it often seems like chaos. There could not really be chaos because everything would fall apart, and nothing would hold together.
The philosophers’ rather cold understanding of God seems to be closer to the truth than one would like. God makes the world, and wills it to exist, but does not get involved in its doings. The Judeo-Christian idea of a loving Father is often at odds with what is allowed to happen. And even when we talk about the freedom God gives us, there often seems to be something wrong.
It seems that the freedom God gives to creation is so radical that even physical phenomena can happen in a way that is against his will.
How do we begin to look at this conundrum? Could it be the brokenness of every last part of creation?
I can be angry and speak in anger, which is wrong. I can steal and lie, which is also wrong. No one is forcing me to do these things; I do not have to lie or be angry. These “negatives” are things that I can do, not that I must do. And merely the fact that I can identify them as negative means that I take for granted a spiritual order that is being violated.
One question, then, is the connection between sickness, death, suffering, and our radical freedom. Can it be that in order to have absolute free will, sickness and death must also be given the freedom to exist? Must everything be given the freedom to exist? In principle, this would be the case.
If God were to control only one aspect of creation, such as sickness, then we might become so content with material existence that we would never think of eternity. As beings who will exist in eternity, and who have eternal life, we should think about the eternal.
We are faced with a great conundrum: we have radical freedom. Nothing we do is forced. If I believe in God, it is free. If I disbelieve, that is also free. Ours is a confusing world, where anything is possible, but meaning must be sought.