Results tagged “Christmas” from Bill's Words

Why, God?


A friend from high school is watching someone near and dear to her in the final stages of life, and it’s enough of a burden on her—someone who is always upbeat and positive—that she posted something on Facebook about it. In her post, she struggles to reconcile the belief that we can do good as long as we’re breathing with the suffering that she’s witnessing. She says that this can’t be how it’s supposed to be, and wanted an explanation someday.

I have a big mouth.

So I volunteered what I thought on the subject in a response. Since then, several other people have replied that they had needed to hear these words, too. I thought I would share them here so that others can read them, and hopefully they may help.

Remembering that I’m no theologian and I’m not a pastor, that I’m just a Christian, a husband, a father, and an engineer, here’s what I wrote:

First, I’m sorry things aren’t going well for someone near you. Same here. It’s all the tougher when something happens during this season. It just plain sucks.

As to your other ponderings, them’s a toughie. You can either explain it with lots of theological mumbo-jumbo or make it simple enough that even I can understand it. I prefer the latter. Here it goes, hope this helps:

I am glad that God didn’t create evil. He couldn’t—He’s all perfect and stuff like that. Instead, He let us do what we wanted to do from the very beginning, and being given free will, we created evil by removing Him from parts of our existence.

Think about darkness for a moment and recognize that it’s an absence of light—it’s not a real “thing” as much as it’s a thing caused by the lack of something real. (It would be interesting, though, if it were: we’d have darkbulbs in aisle 10 next to lightbulbs.) Just like a vacuum isn’t a “thing,” but is something caused by the lack of gunk to fill the void. So, too, evil is not a real “thing” but is the absence of good, and all the good stuff there is comes from God (James 1:17).

And when the door is opened to the bad stuff (thanks, Mr. Adam and Mrs. Eve), it gets busy and wrecks stuff for us. Always has, always will. It kills people. It breaks up marriages. It finds ways to make our days really, really crappy in ways that we haven’t even thought of.

But I’m with [another correspondent to the original post]. Whatever is going on is no surprise to Him. He saw it coming, and He will make good use of it to serve His purposes and work out well for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Do we necessarily know how it will work out? No. Do we know when it will work out? No. Sometimes we see the results, other times… not. It may happen in our lifetimes, and it may not. Why not? Dunno’, but the Bible says it’s going to work out, so I have to believe that.

Why can’t he just fix everything? I suppose He could, but He chose not to make us automatons, robots, doing just good stuff. Instead, He lets us screw up at will. Makes things a lot more interesting that way, I suppose.

So, “Why, God?” Why free will? Why let us do what we want to? Why let us push Him out of our ways? Why not make everything perfect? My answer is, “We don’t know.” The Bible doesn’t answer these questions. Instead, we are told that the ends justify the means, and we’re not told what the big plan is in the first place. I think it’s a little presumptuous for us to think that we could understand all of what He has in His plans. You know, He’s infinite, and we’re a bit smaller than that. If He answered the question “Why?” to us, I’m thinking our collective brains would explode. “YOU WANT THE TRUTH?! YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” comes to mind.

I’d still like to try understanding His answer. It would be really, really interesting.

All that having been said, it doesn’t make it any easier for us to watch others endure circumstances which are distinctly not good. But it does make it easier to focus on bringing Him into the situation if we can get away from the angry “You’re not such a loving God after all, are you?!” phase and move to the “OK, so be it, now… HELP! (Please.)” phase. Just like it’s hard to make up and be nice with [your husband] if you’re still mad at him after an argument. Get past the argument, and you can make up. Get past the blame game, and you can ask God to do just about anything.

And He’ll listen and He will answer. Maybe not with the answer we expect, but with an answer that suits His plans, and we know that His plans are good.

Again, I’m sorry things aren’t all well, and hope that I’ve been of a teensy bit of help. I’m no theologian, and these things might all be wrong. I’ve picked up bits and pieces here and there and assembled them into my engineer’s way of thinking—some settling may have occurred during shipping and handling. And they may not have helped at all. But if they have, then my Christmas has been made a bit brighter, and so has yours.

Merry Christmas,

Merry Christmas, everybody.

To all my Democratic friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than neither any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To all my Republican friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

(I have no idea what the source of this is. It arrived in my inbox from my dad and, yes, it’s out there on the Intertubes, but I decided it needed to be repeated. Bill)

December 25th, whether you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Tom Cruise, is called “Christmas.” Yes, it is called “Christmas” with a capital “C,” just like “the Fourth of July,” “Thanksgiving,” and that perennial favorite, “Presidents’ Day.” Millions of people around the world celebrate it, too.

So why is that big tree in the town green called a “Holiday Tree?”

I’ve been giving this some significant thought lately. (Perhaps you noticed the odor.) I just don’t get it.

After all, stores have sales called “Christmas sales” on which they make millions of dollars, yet their clerks wish us, “Happy holidays!” as we leave.

The day on the calendar is “Christmas.” And yet we have politicians wishing us “Happy holidays!”

The season is the “Christmas” season. And yet there are 8’-tall inflatable SpongeBob Squarepants yard art Santas sitting on packages… no, wait, that doesn’t help my argument. Never mind.

Anyway, you don’t hear people wishing you “Happy holidays!” on Veteran’s Day, do you? And don’t you think veterans would be a tad ticked off if we decided that we should take the “Vet” out of “Veterans” because it shows favor to one particular profession?

And you don’t hear people wishing each other “Happy holidays!” at Easter, do you? Instead, people sell you candy eggs, chocolate thingamabobs, and as many jelly beans as you’ll eat and say, “Happy Easter!” when you check out. Weird.

I’m a Christian. Ben Stein is a Jew. And I think he said it very well:

I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.

Come on, America. The vast majority of you are Christians. So… er… what to do…

Well, last year, I wished every store clerk, “Merry Christmas!” as I checked out. You’d be surprised at the reactions I got. While most said, “Hey, Merry Christmas to you, too!” even after they’d already said, “Happy holidays,” nobody—not one person—said, “Shove it, pal,” or even anything remotely similar. Some merely stuck with their previous, “Happy holidays.”

But most smiled and returned the greeting.

Say it, folks, as if you understand what the true meaning of Christmas is (that Christ was born in Bethlehem to save the world) or even if you understand it as Hallmark understands it (that it’s a day about being good to each other, bringing cheer to others, etc.). Or even if you’d rather it be called “christmas” with a lower-case “C” (like folks who don’t believe in Christ, for example, but like the day off anyway), go ahead and say it, “Merry Christmas.”

Then go home and put the lights on your Christmas tree.

UPDATED 2007-12-08 I realized that I had a comma after “Christmas” in the title of this bit and that made the modifier “for Christ’s sake” sound like “fer chrissake.” And that’s not what I wanted it to sound like.