Why are we allowed to do the things we shouldn’t?
Yesterday, I heard of someone who said he couldn’t believe in God, given what had happened in Norway. How could a loving God allow such a horrific killing spree to take place? The question is a valid one and one that could be made of many situations concerning suffering that is caused by people. It is also one that can be made of many situations in our life. Why are people allowed to cause us such deep suffering and why are we allowed to cause others suffering? Because God has given us free will and God respects that freedom even when we abuse it and act in ways that are profoundly inhuman, even violating the sacredness of others’ lives. This is difficult for us to comprehend.
Parents have some insight into this. You can spend yourselves giving the best example and teaching your children to make right choices but part of becoming adult is for them to make choices that differ from yours. Good parents know they have to relinquish control, usually as the children become adults, and that they are not responsible for all the choices their children make as adults. How awful the parents of mass murderers must feel. Even if they had given their children a tough childhood, that is no excuse for depravity.
In our use of free will, we can be most like God: loving, caring, creative; or most devilish: hating, vindictive, destructive. While we are horrified by what happened in Norway, this can also be a wake-up call to us: how do the choices I make each day, give life or destroy life? If we allow ourselves to just drift through life, we are not using our free will and harm can come of this. We are made to knowingly and willingly share in God’s passionate love of the world.
Loving God, at times we are horrified by the terrible actions of people. We pray for grieve the loss in recent tragedies of family or friends. May we learn to treasure those we love and carefully consider the effects that our own choices will have on their lives. We ask this in Jesus’ name, confident that you will hear us.