There’s a YouTube video I really appreciate of Ravi Zacharias responding to the question of why God allows evil. It’s six minutes. I hope you can make the time to watch it, now or later:
The Gist Of It
In concluding his response, Ravi tells the Eastern folklore tale of man whose horse runs away. Incredibly, it returns, but breaks his son’s leg, which then keeps the son from being forcibly recruited by a traveling gang. As these events play out, the horse owner’s neighbor continually comments on the man’s good and bad luck, all the while not knowing the effect of each circumstance on the future.
The moral of the story is that for as tempting and convenient as it is for us, much like the horse owner’s neighbor, to make moral judgments about day-to-day things, the truth is that we do not know how things will ultimately play out. We cannot really know what will be beneficial, and what will not.
I think of this often in trivial moments, like when the barista asks me how my day is going. I realize she’s just being conversational, but sometimes I feel like letting loose:
How the hell should I know? It’s 9 am and I’ve only begun to live this day out, but even if it were 5 in the evening I only know what I know in the very limited scope of things that is my own meesley perspective! How’s your day! Do you know? Can you know? You’re living and dying in the exact same moment! Do you have the ability to make moral judgments about everything that happens! Do you know how it’s all playing out and where this friggin’ ship is headed!
That would probably be a defining moment in her decidedly “bad day.”
Let’s Be Honest
I don’t intend to change anything. Small talk is small talk, and I’m just ranting. I know that when my uncle calls me and asks how work is, and I say that I’m working a lot, that he doesn’t mean much when he says, “Well, that’s good.”
Sure, I could admit that I’m only working a lot in order to afford counseling and keep my mind busy since I tend to make poor decisions when I’m bored, but that seems rather exhausting. He’s not oblivious to the struggles of my life anyway, so it’s not like it would be a shock if I admitted it. It’s just–it’s just easier to say, “Well that’s good.”
While driving home from work earlier tonight, I was thinking of something. I can’t remember what but I found myself wanting to categorize it as good or bad. Such is the temptation of mankind to label and categorize things. It makes them easier for our minds to understand and sort out. And that’s not necessarily a “bad thing.”
But sometimes things just are. They’re neither clearly good nor bad–they just are. I did this. I said that. It had that effect. Is that good? Is that bad? I don’t really know. What I do know is what effect it had, and whether that effect was intended or unintended, that’s what happened. So now what?
I don’t want to encourage the idea that good and evil do not exist. They do, and there are certainly cases in which a spade ought to be called a spade. I’ve made bad choices. I just don’t know what all of them are yet, especially when some of them are rendering good changes in my life.
I’m actively working stuff out here, so if I seem contradictory or unclear at times, it’s because I am.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.