In less than twelve hours, I have experienced three different individuals telling or asking me about God, asking or mentioning the "hard" things. Only two of these encounters were conversations; the other was someone railing against God for all His wrongdoing (in that person's opinion.) These conversations left me feeling as though I should share my thoughts.
The first conversation was last evening. I was asked why God allows bad things to happen. Why are children born with handicaps? Why are children abused? Why did Adam and Eve have to be so stupid and sinful? That one made me smile and ask back, "Because you have never disobeyed God, right?" The way I read it, God spent days (2 Peter 3: 8) making a beautiful world, full of numerous varieties of plants, animals, insects, birds, wild beasts, trees, flowers, climates; He made the sun, moon, and stars to give us light and to set our time and seasons. And then He wanted to pour His love into persons made in His (Our) image. "Our" suggests plurality. God, the Father, Jesus, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all present. Their desire was relationship with Adam and Eve and all their offspring such as they had together--unity, peace, and love. And they wanted people to have unity with one another.
But They did not want relationship with robots. If your spouse or child loved you because they had no choice, how would that be rewarding? The reward of love is when it is given by free choice. God desired our love and trust, freely given. So "stupid" old Adam and Eve had a choice to make. They could look around and see all that God had done for them: the beauty of the created, the sun for light and warmth, the plants for eating, the shade for cool rest. We are told that the work was not difficult in the beginning. The animals were amazing and varied so I imagine life was not dull.
God provided man and woman with love, daily relationship with one another and with their Creator, and every need met in paradise. They had a choice, just as we still do -- obedience and trust or sin, AKA disobedience. We have the audacity to blame God for our wrong choices, their wrong choices. He made paradise; we made the mess. And yes, I maintain that all the mess of this world, hate, violence, mental illness, birth defects, and on and on I could go, it all originated with sin, not God.
He knew we would make the mess; He knows our hearts. He saw our need for redemption in the beginning. And He provided.
The second conversation began with a friend saying that she does not believe that people should say God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13: 8) She cited that God was totally different in the old Testament writings than Jesus (God with us) was in the new Testament. She brought up the extreme violence of the OT.
I shared that I understand where she is coming from but I think of it a little differently than she does. The violence of the Old Testament had to do with the heart of man, not the will of God. Men chose from the beginning of time to go their own way, live by their own standards, laws, tenets. We often think of God's law as obtrusive, mean, heavy. I believe God's laws were for man's protection and well-being. God knew man's needs; He created, He understood. He also wanted His people, the Israelites, to survive and worship and thank Him for deliverance. Again, sin (disobedience of God) was rampant, in God's people as well as all others. Wars happen. I know this is over simplified, so go ahead and call me whatever you want. But I do believe that God allows men to make their choices; He knew that the Israelites would not be "given" the land by those already living there; they would not be accepted as new settlers; so He allowed war and killings. Again, it was a function of man's heart and God's provision for those choosing to follow Him.
The third non-conversation left me sad. The person attacking walked away from God and Christian faith years ago and feels superior for having done so. That person was railing about God and His (perceived) injustice in the mistreatment of women. Names were named and stories of abuse of women were mentioned that have nothing at all to do with one another; but I get the gist of the complaint. Also mentioned was Jezebel who is mentioned as a strong woman (by the accuser) and therefore is deemed by God to be wicked. Well, no that is misaligning the facts of the story; Jezebel was a strong evil woman who chose wrongdoing and that is why God found her displeasing. Again, the stories have to do with the heart of men, not God's heart. God's heart for man has always demonstrated love, faithfulness, peace, and a desire for unity and relationship with Him.
We see through the example of Jesus that women are to be respected, cherished, and protected. And in Jesus we see what God's intent for us was all along, love, peace, and unity. We are the ones who choose to make a mess of life.