Goodness has never been a guarantee of safety. (from Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle)
I’ve been thinking about this quote lately for a couple of different reasons. It’s about as true a statement as I think I’ve ever read, but I think that a lot of people don’t realize it. How often do people react to bad health news or the loss of a loved one with the attitude of “How could this happen to me?” or “He didn’t deserve that!” Of course, there’s nothing wrong with feeling that way. But I know that many people who have turned away from God have done so because they simply can’t reconcile that bad things happen to good people. It’s not fair, and if God really were just and benevolent, the world wouldn’t work that way.
I think that this kind of thinking comes from a misunderstanding of who God is. God never promises to be a distributor of karma–doling out positive rewards for good behavior and negative consequences for bad behavior. He doesn’t offer special protection to good people any more than He zaps bad people with lightning bolts. I don’t know if that makes it any easier to deal with pain and suffering. But I guess for me, maybe in a weird way, it speaks to God’s justice. The sun rises and sets on the righteous and unrighteous; we’re all dealt cards from the same deck. And that means that we all have equal opportunities to make choices about the people we are becoming. Does my pattern of [mostly] good choices mean that I deserve a better hand than someone else? No; maybe there’s a part of me that wants that, but in my heart I don’t think I’m entitled to better circumstances than someone else, regardless of their deeds.
But, since God doesn’t guarantee our safety, I think we are all responsible for looking out for each other. We should be actively trying to keep each other safe and taking care of each other. It just makes sense–if you have no guarantee of safety and I have no guarantee of safety, it’s to our mutual advantage to look out for each other. And one of the best ways that we can look out for each other is by working together to demolish the things that endanger us. Specifically, I’m thinking right now about the problem of sex trafficking, and especially that in regards to children whose lives are swallowed in that system. Kristi has been bringing this problem to our attention here on the blog, and many of you will have heard by now that big events like the Super Bowl create opportunities for those who enslave people in this way. Truthfully, I’m not really sure what we can do besides pray, but I think awareness is important.