Attention people with microphones/bully pulpits and all other people of earth:
God does not give people cancer/seizures/heart attacks/HIV, STD’s, any other diseases. God does not cause car accidents. God does not assign people to murder others. God did not make that hurricane/earthquake/other natural disaster happen because he was mad at the people living there. God did not do something so that he could have another angel in heaven. GOD DOES NOT CAUSE PEOPLE TO RAPE OTHERS SO THAT BABIES CAN BE MADE.
[2018 edit: GOD DOES NOT CAUSE SCHOOL SHOOTINGS BECAUSE WE DON’T ALLOW PRAYER IN SCHOOLS. IN FACT, ANYONE CAN PRAY IN SCHOOL AND LOTS OF PEOPLE WERE PROBABLY PRAYING DURING EACH AND EVERY SCHOOL SHOOTING. Mass shootings happen because we have a gun and violence fetish, because of toxic masculinity, because we isolate and ignore people, and bunch of other reasons that all boil down to SIN]
God is not the catch all excuse for why bad things happen. So stop using it. Please. It gives God a bad name. In fact, these accusations/excuses might be the worst way we use the name of the Lord in vain. Because shit like this breaks people, it makes God seem downright evil, and it makes God’s people look like a bunch of mean assholes. Stop it.
Bad things happen because we are a broken people living in a broken world. Bad things are usually a result of our bad choices or other people’s bad choices (or the earth’s desire to renew and refresh itself, like volcanoes). Rape? The rapist made a bad, horrible, hurtful choice, and was possibly surrounded by others making mad choices at one point or another. God was not in that.
My dad’s cancer? My dad smoked for 40 years, ate poorly and lived in an environment and food chain that has been broken by the way we misuse it.God didn’t need him in heaven, God didn’t take him because I needed my faith tested. God did not do that.
Kids with cancer? Awful. Painful. They did nothing and yet are sick. But we messed up the environment; they were born into a broken world, and sometimes, bad things happen for no reason other than we live in a broken world. And it sucks and is painful. But God did not do that.
Car accidents and other seemingly random deaths and painful incidents? There are probably a million little reasons that either boil down to bad choices or shit happens. Either way, God does not make them happen.
Natural disasters? Sometimes nature just needs to clean itself up. Other times, particularly in our day and age, Nature is responding to being fucked with. Killed. Abused. We have made a ton of choices that have gotten us where we are with nature. We are causing many of our natural disasters. God is not.
Also, God does not bless nations more than other nations or pick leaders of nations. We pick our leaders. That’s on us as well.
What does God do? God is always present in our lives. God loves us, God walks with us, God calls us to be better than we are today, to be in relationship with God. God tries to guide all of us to make the best possible choices and we so often ignore God’s voice in our own lives (and have little influence over how much random attackers listen to God). When bad things happen, God is still there, walking along side of us, surrounding us with people who love us and will care for us through the pain, suffering and darkness. God provides the light at the end of the tunnel. God comes to us in ways small and gentle and large and loud. Sometimes we miss the point, sometimes we don’t hear, sometimes we can feel so very alone and wonder why God has cursed us.
But God hasn’t.
God has redeemed and rescued us from ourselves, and we have to accept it. We have to accept God’s love, we have to accept God’s guidance.
Even then, bad things will still happen. Loved ones will still get sick, accidents will claim people, people we love will be victims of violence. We might be victims of violence. Violence that has no face and answers to no name but Sin.
Some think that this makes our God an impotent God. God doesn’t swoop in and rescue us from the evil of this world. Speaking for myself, there are a thousand times God has tried to save me from myself and I have ignored God’s voice and done what I wanted and paid the price. In part, bad things are a price we pay for free will. Otherwise we’d all just be little pieces on God’s chess board — and what would the point of life be then?
We are not little pieces on God’s chess board; we aren’t a part of some kind of grand game God is playing. We are the result of God’s love and our brokenness (individual and communal). We are imperfect. All of creation is imperfect. And shit happens.
But God does not make that shit happen. Not to punish us, not to teach us a lesson, and most certainly not to make babies. God does not make the bad things happen. That is a result of sin in us and sin in the world.
How do I know this? How can I speak with such certainty about God? It is certainly dangerous to make statements about what God does and who God is, because we are so often wrong. But what God in Jesus tells me is this: God loves us. God makes love happen. God makes beauty happen. God makes life happen. That is what God is: life. Things that negate life are not God’s. That is sin. That is brokenness. And that is not God. For God is whole, holy, and wholly loving. And the brokenness in the world is not God’s. It is ours. God did not do that.