Posted by: minnow | October 4, 2008

Hard Question and Dicier Answer

Once again Kathy Escobar over at The Carnival in My Head has written a powerful, thought provoking piece.  Go check it out.  One of the comments by Randi who writes Seeds in My Heart also caused me to do some questioning.  I am probably going to open up a can of worms here so this is my WARNING: Proceed with caution; could be hazardous to brain cells.  Read only if you are willing to extend grace.

Kathy asks the question, where is the Good News in hard places?  And she gives several examples of what she means.  READ HER POST!  This has been an impossibly difficult question to answer probably since we started asking questions (this side of Eden).  The underlying question is really why do we have evil?  Or, how did evil come into being? 

I believe that when God created man and gave us free will He allowed for the potential of evil.  It does not exist in the same way that a tree exists because it has to be acted upon to exist.  At the same time, it was there all along in the garden and it is still present just waiting for us to choose to empower it by our will.  We call the “ultimate evil” Satan and give Satan all kinds of human attributes–thinking, emotion, motives–but in reality human will, free choice, is what determines what evil is released into the world and God gave us that free choice. 

But man can not control the weather or earthquakes or vulcanos or…  True, but what makes those things “evil”?  Are they bad because something is wrong about them in and of themselves or are they bad because we do not like them?  As far as we know, all these natural disasters were happening the whole time we were protected in the garden.  We just did not experience them because of where we were.  Even if that is not true it is really only our perception that labels them bad.  They have no soul, no spirit.  They are not actually alive.  They can not be either good or evil.  They simply are.  The same with disease.  Our response to disease and natural disasters–as human beings, as Christians–determines what good or evil is realeased. 

When we walk with along side a friend who is dying of cancer we release good into the situation.  When we visit a person in prison, or the elderly in a nursing home we realease good into their isolation and loneliness.  In the same way, when we gossip or look down our nose at someone who is not as blessed as we are we realease evil toward them and their situation.  We also turn our backs on God and prevent Him from working good in and through us. 

God risked giving us free will because He wanted to be loved, worshipped, followed by a people, a creation, that could just as easily not chosen Him.  As the creator He can do anything.  He can make us do anything.  But He chosed to let us have freedom instead.  He wanted us to have another option (evil) so that we would truly know His goodness, His love; so that the whole of who He is could be glorified.



  1. oh WOW! really powerful. thanks for the shout out and these words….. wow that’s deep. it almost makes me cry because it’s so powerful… what a weird response to have.

    I think you are reallly hitting on some Truth here.

    Thanks so much as always minnow. I love hearing your thoughts/heart/perspective.


  2. I’ve been thinking more of course on this…. maybe we label things as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ dependent on what they in their nature do.

    if it takes away, ruins, demolishes, breaks down then it’s bad

    if it gives, nourishes, builds up, or creates then it’s good

    I don’t know what that means — but that’s just an observation

    and I think it’s so interesting to think about ‘things’ being morality neutral. they just take on wahtever character/power we give them.

    sort of like, “Life is a grindstone, whether it grinds you down or polishes you up, depends on what you are made of” — if you have the spirit or not depends on what situations do to you and if they are ‘bad’ or ‘good’

    would love to hear more of your thoughts on this! 🙂 very interesting stuff.

  3. You’re right about the free will. It’s your free will to handle any situation in a negative manner or a positive one. It’s your free will to give the devil authority or to take authority over him. It’s your free will to choose good over evil. It’s your free will to step up in faith or to step back away from it or not even take a step at all. It’s your free will to walk in the spirit or walk in the flesh.

    God gave us choices to choose between whats right and whats wrong. He also gave us the power of the Holy Spirit to teach us and guide us in all things that we may & hopefully choose the path that God destined us to walk in, which ultimately comes to spreading the good news in some form or another.

  4. Randi–As always thank you for your responses! Another thought for you–medicine that attacks disease–“destroys” it but still we call it good because we like that kind of distruction. Bacteria in our compost pile “breaks down” our garbage. Again we like that. I have an aquaintence who was burned quite severly as a child. The physical pain of clothing on her skin has caused her to be house bound for over two years. Yet in this pain she actually rejoices because she is so much closer to God then she believes she could be without it. I think she is an example of not just God bringing good out of something bad but of the “bad” actually being better for her than the “good” would have been. I have to work really hard to wrap my head around that but I think it actually make evil understandable from a God perspective. It also explains, at least for me, how God can let evil be part of the equation via free will.
    Toia–Thanks for stopping by. I always enjoy making new connections. We certainly like blaming others for our poor choices and when ther isn’t anyone else to blame then “the devil made me do it” always comes in handy. We’d be a lot better off if we took a better look at ourselves.

  5. ohhh good examples! I have to think more now haha I love this topic & point of view. totally awesome 🙂

  6. Minnow,

    As usual, some insightful and challenging thoughts — especially the subtle, yet important, difference between classifying an event as “good/evil” vs. seeing our reaction to that event as the ultimate harbinger of “good/evil.”
    I’ve also seen situations that look “bad” on the outside labeled as a work of Satan. But, when you talk to the people going through those tough times, they somehow find the grace of God in the midst of their desert. Now that’s good. That’s really good!

    It makes me wonder…if we looked at our reactions, instead of circumstances, would it be that much easier to believe, “all things work together for good to them that love the Lord?” I think so.

    Thanks, Minnow, for taking this conversation into the hinterlands of our psyches. Couch time with your blog is always rewarding.

  7. ohh wow minnow I finally found this post again!! that talked about good/bad — maybe they aren’t inherently good or bad at all..

    but I guess that leaves me questioning babies born with defects / mental problems / etc….. I mean to me it’s just BAD 😦

    I can almost wrap my mind around everything written above as far as God turning around ALL for the good — but it’s things like this – babies suffering… never getting a chance at “normal” life and I use that very loosely…. that I can’t see as being anything but bad. What causes those things? the nature of being in the world we are? in general the consequences of sin?

    how come we seem to be getting more and more sick as a people? cancer increases so so so so so much every decade. environmental? not necessarily “bad”???

    I know God can turn anything around for good — but sickness of those that can’t relate to Him yet and can’t be taught about Him is so hard for me.

    anyway – just sharing more.

    Thanks for u! 🙂

  8. Randi–You continue to challenge me to think! WOW! I guess as far as suffering babies go I would say death and possibly disease (or at least some disease) came with the fall. Some disease however is environmentally caused meaning man made–polution and the like (lead based paint, asbestos). Anyway, babies with defects and people with disease probably do suffer a certain degree of pain and I understand thinking of pain as evil but what makes it evil? Is it evil because we don’t like it? Or is there something inherently sinful about pain? Pain, I think is a consequence.

  9. Hey Minnow,

    you’re right … I guess when you think about it.. there’s nothing “sinful” nor ‘evil’ about pain…. just something we don’t want to have to deal with… but saying we don’t want to deal with it doesn’t make it evil…….. there are things we don’t want to deal with that are great for us and are good in themselves

    I guess I was thinking along the lines of mental suffering rather than physical pain or anything. and maybe it’s moreso the people around them (parents) then the child themselves? I was really just thinking of a few families I knew whose kids had rare diseases and will never be able to talk, walk….. it’s like they’ll always be in a vegetative state. it just seems ‘bad’ to me — I don’t know if i’d use the word evil…. but it’s certainly not ‘good’

    do you think our dna/genes are just ‘weaker’ and continue to get weaker and weaker because of environmental reasons & lack of nutrition?

    anyway — just rambling once again.

    i hope ur having a great day! 🙂 thanks for helping me sort through all these thoguhts

  10. Yes, I do think toxins have built up and had long range impacts. I think mental suffering is similar to physical pain. And, I would say from a personal POV abuse is much harder for me to understand than disease, etc.

  11. wouldn’t you say though that abuse is because of a direct decision…. the person chooses abuse — although like you were saying, many times it’s because it has been “passed down” / taught… but still my point is – there’s a direct cause / effect

    but disease / mental illness wasn’t because of a choice other than a wonderful decision to have a baby. there was no sin done by the parents to cause the baby to have an illness. no cause/effect directly related. they couldn’t stop it as abuse can be stopped. and if it’s just because of the environment/ weakening of genes — it’s just sort of “chance” that it happens to some and not others. The Holy Spirit helps us overcome our sins — but will He change our dna that causes illness? I know He has the power & miracles happen but…..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: