Is God fair?
by Stephen Owusu Ansah
The human landscape is darkened with a whole gamut of immorality, dishonesty and infidelity. Morality is tumbling down with such a bewildering rapidity. Human decency has died an inglorious death. The news in the papers is not good. What we see on television is no better.
Some few disgruntled, sick terrorists are killing innocent people. Suicide bombers, hurricanes, tsunami, plane and train clashes, rape, and violence, what kind of world is this? How could a loving God allow such atrocities to happen? Where is God in all these? All over the world people are perishing. Back home in my country, it appears Ghana, our beloved country, is also bleeding to death. It seems that man is eating every man. Dog eats dog. The once champion horse is now so deranged; it appears all hope is lost. Until relatively recently, Ghanaians around the globe were known for their sense of hard work, dedication to duty, honesty, uprightness and above all, cheerfulness.
The Black Stars (the senior football team of Ghana) put Ghana on the world map by qualifying the, very first time. They performed well and came out as the only African country to reach the second round at the just ended World Cup. Brilliant performance, enviable achievement. However, we read from the footballerís camp that all is not well. Incidents of bullying, cheating, antagonism, cronyism, corruption, bullying appear to be the only ď starsĒ they are wearing. We are also sick to the back of our teeth to read of the recent reports about certain individualís empty yearning to get rich or richer quickly by all sorts of sick and dangerous means.
Drug trafficking, human trafficking, arm robbery. Cocaine dealing. Child abuse. Prostitution. And now, some deranged few are calling for a gay and lesbian conference in Ghana. Excuse me? At home, no good news either. Resentment towards the government. Public dissatisfaction of the elected leaders.
While some minority few are getting richer fresher and posher by the minute: a lot of people are falling into abject poverty. It is not very nice these days to listen to the weeping, mourning and wailing and gnashing of teeth on radio stations at the trotro stations, barber shops and at the markets.
There are very fair questions on the minds of the people. If God is good, why does He allow innocent people to suffer? If God is all-powerful, If God cares, why is there so much pain in the world? Why is it that often good people go unrewarded and evil people go unpunished? If there is God why did he not stop September 11? Where was God when the sick boys were planning to bomb London on 7/7.
Fair questions, Honest, anguished questions.
I once read of an Iranian folk ďif you see a blind man, kick him; why should you be kinder than God? In other words, if you see someone who is suffering, you must believe that he deserves his fate and that God wants him to suffer. Therefore, put yourself on Godís side by shunning him or humiliating him further. If you try to help him, you will be going against Godís justice. Often we interpret the suffering of someone to say probably he deserves it. And when we do that, we feed into their sense of guilt, the suspicion that may be this happened to them because they did somehow have it coming. When things donít turn out as we would like them to, it is very tempting to assume that had we done things differently: the story would have had a happier ending. Some people believe that bad things happen to good people because God wants them to suffer. However, all religious explanations on this are very divergent.
This has been the grist for the mill of many scholars and theologians. Survivors of a disaster feel guilty for being alive while a loved one is dead. We feel guilty because we could not spend more time together or express more kind words. This leads me to two elements involved in our readiness to feel guilty.
First, our need to believe that the world would make sense if we believe that there is a cause for every effect and a reason for everything that happens.
Second, that we are the cause of what happens, especially the bad things that happen. This is just a short step from believing that every event has a cause to believing that every disaster is our fault. This may lie in our childhood.
Psychologists talk of the infantile myth of omnipotence. A baby comes to think that the world exists to meet his needs and that he makes everything happen in it. Recently, I met a gentleman who was so disillusioned about his life that he was questioning of what use is God?
The conventional wisdom is that God sends us the burden because he knows that we are strong enough to handle it. Another view is that God, in his infinite wisdom, created man with the freewill to do whatever man wants.
Godís plan for man is to build holy, righteous character. Character is the ability to know the right in opposition to the wrong. Character cannot be instilled by making men into robots. God has given men the free choice to acknowledge Him.
Other scholars are of the view that God has never left mankind without a witness. So in facing difficulties in life, man comes to the realisation that there is only one person who can redeem him. Enoch and Noah were in a pre-flood world. Later God raised a nation-Israel- a beacon to the world.
Thus God works through history and world events to bring us closer to Him. World atrocities are the results of our rejection of the true way of God. The purpose of a disaster, therefore, is to manifest the power of God and bring communities together. God looks at things from an eternal perspective. Man looks at things from an earthly perspective.
One would argue, why create Adam and Eve and test them? Why didnít He leave us all in heaven where we would be perfect and without suffering? It is suggested that God did not want to create a race of robots that did not have a free will. God allowed the possibility of evil for us to have a free choice of whether to worship Him or not. Disaster may come, but it is what you do with that matters.
On September 11, 2001, sin caused mayhem but God was in still in control. The events changed our perceptions of life. Most people turned to God for eternal salvation. Do you know that literally thousands of people were not at work for some strange reasons on that day? Hundreds were able to flee the buildings and passengers on Flight 93 were able to defeat the terrorists: hence the deflection from the White House?
The article continues in the next edition.