A few weeks ago, I heard a curious conversation on my morning commute. The ladies behind me on the bus were having a serious discussion about their Christian beliefs. I’m not sure which denomination they were, but it was clear that one woman was getting fed up with God. From her point of view she was devout, prayerful etc – but God wasn’t keeping up with his end of the bargain. The more she talked about it, the more agitated and upset she became. Let’s call her Maddy.
Maddy was in her mid to late 50’s, I think. She was on her way to work and I got the sense that her life hadn’t been easy. Her aches and ailments were numerous. She wasn’t a new Christian either. Hadn’t she loved the Lord for years and kept Christ first and center in her life? How could he disappoint her like this?
The problem? The evildoers around her were prospering.
Here Maddy was – praying and following Jesus – and God had the nerve to shower blessings on the evil people around her. Note, she wasn’t upset with her lack of blessings. She didn’t say, “Why isn’t God doing ___” for me. She was upset that evil people around her were not suffering.
The friend reminded Maddy that she didn’t really know what was happening in the lives of others. People who look like they have everything could be suffering behind closed doors. As Christians, they were to stay focused on their own prayerful worship. The Lord will deal with the wicked in his own time.
Maddy disagreed. She just couldn’t get over that God was blessing evil people. It was starting to shake her faith. She never mentioned that any of these people had done anything to her or any specific evil deeds–except had the indecency to prosper.
This went on for about 35 minutes–Maddy complaining about evil being blessed and her friend repeating that they needed to keep their focus on the faith.
I have to admit, I was amused at first. It stuck with me that Maddy didn’t want more blessings/favor for herself (money, health, etc)-except the privilege of watching the suffering of others. It was not enough to believe that she was going to be rewarded in Heaven or that evil people would be punished in Hell.
Everybody loves watching the bad guy get what’s coming to them. Whether it’s the villain in a movie who is finally found out or a reality show where not-to-nice characters can’t figure out why things always go wrong for them, we like seeing the drama unfold. That’s fiction.
I imagine Maddy giving glares of disapproval to bad people and waiting for God to co-sign by sending plagues.
Then, I began to wonder–could Maddy really believe she had a divine right to see hardship in the lives of the “evil” people around her? If a person feels they have the divine right to know another’s pain, is there a point where they feel divinely justified in causing pain? Would this mean that being in authority (job, etc) over an evil person was a reward from God–giving you the chance, the responsibility, to enact justice on his behalf?