Ferdinand Adimefe: Good God in a terrible world

 “Never take life seriously, nobody gets out alive anyway.”- Anonymous

“Why do bad things happen to good people?’’ This is a tough, disturbing question. I know what it means to wrestle with the unanswered questions of life. My struggles came quite early. I was barely 13 years old when I lost a neighbour, Tonye, to sickle cell anaemia, and this was not without much praying during his protracted crisis.  Just recently, in the wake of bomb blasts that rocked the UN Building, Madala and Kano, these questions came up again.

‘How could a loving God allow incredible evil harm his children day by day?’ Questions of this nature are not new. They have continued to plague the minds of those desperately trying to make sense of the odds things going on in the world. Christians have their religious sensibilities rattled by events which they can’t reconcile with their belief of God being their security blanket from the evil of this world. They shudder when they think that God didn’t hold up to his own side of the deal.

‘Why couldn’t an all-knowing and all powerful God stop the perpetrators of this evil? Where is God then?’ These questions were posed by a friend in the wake of the bomb blast. We both agreed that God knows what will happen next week because he is not restricted by time as we are, but we differed because his believes God causes evil, while I think knowing it doesn’t exactly mean that he caused it.

Is it wrong to question God? I think it is okay when we struggle to make sense out of the needless pain and senseless tragedy that have become the lot of the humanity in this broken world. I believe if these same questions have not crossed your mind, it soon will. Over the years, I have tried to resolve such questions; I have experienced the inevitable pain and pleasure of life, celebrated births and mourned by gravesides.  I have seen marriages flourish and yet not a few divorce.

When we are hit by life, does it mean God loves us less? I think God’s love is pretty misunderstood. We can improve perspective if we keep in mind that God’s ways are not our ways neither are his thoughts our thoughts. So ideally, we would have loved a trouble-free life, but that is not always the deal we have. God is committed to his purposes than to protect us from pain, even pain can be a part of his purpose, and he is committed to building our character than to preserving our comfort. In the light of this, what God’s love means in practical ways is to pass us through the fiery furnace that will make us glittering stars.  Isn’t it curious that when Christ showed up on the earth, the grand plan was salvation through death? When tragedy hits at us, the world may interpret that our lives are falling apart; but God may very well see it as falling together. It does help to understand and accept that God’s presence is not just so we can fix every problem, this might be a fall out of it, but his goal is to make us like him. This is why I choose to follow God and accept him in spite of my unanswered questions.

For most of us, as long as the party lasts, we seldom realize that we need God, but it is when storms rock our boat that we come away asking ‘Where are you God?’

Aside the fact that our character is moulded in conflict, tragedy serves as a gentle reminder of our mortality and the frailty of our humanity. Our shared mortality irrespective of our socioeconomic profiles is what binds us as humans. The challenge in our broken world remains that man has freewill and God will not violate this will. It is not that he lacks the ability to stop evil, but that men who he ought to work through are often too weak to stand too long. Often times, God will work through other humans to truncate the plans of the enemy and that is why we need to nourish our personal relationship with him. Our strategy is to pray as though we do not act and to act as though we do not pray. When we realize all these, we will see clearly that God is just a good God in a terrible world.

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