Ric Runestad is a resident of Fort Wayne and an occasional guest editorial writer for our evening paper, the News-Sentinel. I opened to the editorial page on Thursday and read a remarkable piece of apologetic–a really fresh response to the timeless question of “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
You can read the entire piece by following the link. I’ve reprinted a slightly abridged version, along with a follow-up thought I had about it.
[Not knowing how to contact Mr. Runestad directly, I can only hope that he won’t mind.]
The young couple sat holding their newborn baby as the stranger entered the hospital room…
Without preamble he began. “I represent a company that wishes to make you an offer. A ‘bargain’ we will call it. This new child of yours is just what we are needing for an experiment.
“At no cost to you we will hook your child to sophisticated machinery that will give his body the nutrients it needs to develop. We will use electronic stimulants on the muscles, which will simulate vigorous exercise allowing your child to look normal and healthy.
“…we will provide constant chemical and electronic stimulus to sensors in the brain… Your (son) will sit in a chair enjoying non-stop euphoria all the days of his life. We will also give a contractual guarantee that his life will be of a period no less than 90 years and could be as great as 120.
“Of course…you could just take your son home with you. …He may graduate top of his class, he may live in a cardboard box struggling with drug addictions. Regardless, if you take him with you he will have successes and failures…
“You run the risk he gets hit by a car at age 6 or is diagnosed with cancer at an early age. His life may be a beacon to others, or a warning. If you don’t take ‘The Bargain’ you are condemning him to the unknown and all of the misfortunes that can go with uncertainty. The world is an evil place; do you really want to subject your child to all that could go wrong?”
…So what would you do if it were you who had been offered “The Bargain”? What would you choose for your baby? …A place where they know nothing and do nothing? A place of placid certainty with no fear of failure or tragedy, but no hope of achievement or overcoming adversity? …would you be willing to give your children over to a world without pain knowing that in such an existence they could never know love — for you, themselves or anyone else?
If you answered no, you are in the considerable majority. Few parents would pick the chair and electrodes for their baby. Most would take the pitfalls of the world over a meaningless existence for their children.
The real question is why would we expect so much less of God…
I was completely taken with this fresh analogy to explain why humans, living in an imperfect world, experience pain and sorrow and loss. Couldn’t the Lord have created a world in which these things didn’t exist?
In order to avoid any potential pain, He would have had to create automata… you’ve heard that argument before, haven’t you? But really–think of the pleasure of praising your child:
- when they make the right choice,
- when they struggle to overcome a difficulty,
- when they achieve something heroic.
What if no human achievement was truly laudable? What if every child was hard-wired to do everything right? Not only would they not really need parents, no parent would have any need for feelings of pride.
God apparently enjoys the possibility of being proud of His kids. And since He’s given them choices, He has chosen to make their choices meaningful.