With positive global markets, growing industry, and constant scientific and technological innovations, the world seems to be a blissful and happy for all who inhabit it. Yet, in today’s world there is perpetual strife, pain, and loss that is being experienced by numerous individuals, or groups. People face troubles including death, war, and oppression, as well as a multitude of other worries and hardships. As a result, many people turn to God looking for answers and solutions during these times of distress and need. God is believed to be the Lord and savior who protects, watches, and guides his followers. However, through examples from the Bible, as well as countless worldly catastrophes, it is difficult for Christians to interpret God as indeed good all the time. Through analyzing Tiffany Houck-Loomis’s Good God?!? Lamentations as a Model for Mourning the Loss of the Good God, andSteven Law’s The Evil-God Challenge, it is clear that many Christians often view God as a villain, more than a friend during times of hardship, as seen by his poor treatment of Zion in Lamentations; however, the reality is that Christian’s perceptions of God in times of theodicy are skewed and Christians completely ignore importance of free will within their lives.
When people experience pain, loss, or are found in a time of need, they often look to God for help as well as answers. Often times, God will respond to these pleas for help, however, for Zion in Lamentations, God does not respond, nor does He explain these horrific acts. The book is set during the Babylonian exile, and Jerusalem was a war zone, people were calling to God for help, but Zion was blamed Him for these tragedies. The streets were described as being full of starving children, and their homes were crashing down around them. While Zion committed sins just as any other human would have, she did not understand God’s unjust and cruel punishment that she was enduring. As Tiffany Houck-Loomis explains in her article, “As Zion sits in the rubble, and continues to be pilfered by the surrounding Edomites, she is literally starving to death” (705). Zion called to God for help and received nothing. God is perceived to be great and loving, but it is strange to love someone who allows for all this pain to occur. Zion was confused as to why God did not answer her calls and why He allowed her nation, her people, and her land to be destroyed. God remained silent and did not return. Similar to Zion, millions of people suffer each day and call out in agony to the Lord, but do not receive any responses. Zion may have committed sins, but so has each human on the planet. It does not make sense why God would be so unjust and harsh to one of His own creations, whom He was believed to love and protect. God may be considered our creator and protector, however, with free will and the constant occurrences of natural and unnatural disasters, it is clear why one may question if God is truly apart of us and looking over us with good intentions at all times.
The “evil-God” hypothesis questions the actual root of all evil, and in turn the existence of Gods’ good. This ideal parallels Lamentations, by defining the question of God’s produced suffering. Within Lamentations, it is clear that that God acted uncharacteristic to what an omnipotent, omniscient and all-good God, should act like. Stephen Law states, that an evil-god is a valid hypothesis, because of all the unjustified pain and suffering that God causes. However, many argue that free will is the reason that humans do not live in a perfect world under God, but the argument for free will does not take into account all of the evil not preempted by Humans; such as natural disasters including Hurricane Katrina. However, even though there is evil in the world, God had the ability to make the world entirely evil, but chose not to. Stephen Law states, “Just as, from the point of view of a good God, a world lacking morally good actions is gravely deficient, so similarly, from the point of view of an evil god, a world lacking morally evil actions is also gravely deficient" . Free will allows for good actions as well as evil actions. If God was completely evil then he would have created an inherently evil world. Look around, clearly this is not an inherently evil society, such that most people can find happiness in something. Therefore, it is only within Christian perceptions during times of theodicy or struggle to view God as evil. In times of happiness Christians view God as good, and free will allows humans to develop their ultimate happiness, rather than struggle.
Thomas Aquinas preached about how free will separated those who were truly righteous and who was not. This allowed for God to weed out all those who loved him erroneously, in turn separating those who deserve to be in Heaven. God created free will in the best interest of his followers and himself, in that life with free will far exceeds life without; “But the behaviour of such puppet beings lacks the dimension of moral responsibility that transforms such acts into actions of the most depraved and despicable”. Free will allows Humans to live their lives the way they so choose, which is a privilege. If humans had no control over the actions of their life how would they have the ability to choose the option that provides them the greatest utility. Yes, this action might not always be favorable to others, but having the ability to choose creates far greater happiness to humans then being told what to do. Therefore, of course humans are going to perceive God negatively in times of struggle and blame Him for His intervention, or lack thereof. Free will is built upon both good and evil, and God providing the opportunity to be good and act as a rational human is a far superior life than a puppet. Through the analysis of Good God?!? Lamentations as a Model for Mourning the Loss of the Good Godand The Evil-God Challengeit is clear that God does not always provide an ideal world for his followers. When his followers turn to him in times of distress they often find him nowhere, which makes it hard to picture their God as a “good” God. However, the reality is that Human’s forget how important free will is to their lives. It may seem at times that God is intervening too much in our lives or maybe not enough. Although, free will is integral in finding pleasure on earth, and it is often forgotten in times of theodicy. If God was inherently evil, then the world would be inherently evil. This is not true. Thus, proving that Christian’s modern perceptions of God often vary, especially during times of strife.