Monica Portogallo ponders how God's plan doesn't always include intervening in specific situations of sin and evil.
Recently, I was praying after I learned about an instance of systemic evil in an institution. In this case, the painful details of this particular evil are not necessary to tell my story, so I hope my readers will forgive me for being vague. Suffice it to say, this particular instance was unquestionably evil, and pointed to a systemic problem in the way this institution is run.
As I expressed my grief to God about this situation, I prayed, “God, why didn’t you do something to intervene as this was happening? So many people were harmed!”
Then my gracious, merciful God, forgiving my impertinence, allowed an answer to come into my thoughts:
That would have enabled the systemic problem to continue. I wanted this to stop forever, not simply this one time.
I have learned a lot in recent years about what it means to enable bad behavior. I used to think of enabling in only the direct sense. I thought enabling was buying alcohol for someone with a drinking problem or doing a child’s homework for him after he spent the afternoon playing video games instead of doing his work.
Those examples are indeed enabling, but over time, I have come to realize that enabling is more often indirect. It can be any action that steps in and prevents the natural consequences of someone’s bad behavior. Without the natural consequences, the person has no reason to examine their behavior -- it all worked out fine as far as they were concerned.
The man with a drinking problem keeps his job because his wife calls in sick for him when he is passed out drunk at the start of his shift. He can continue denying his problem because his drinking hasn’t cost him anything of value.
The kid who spends his Christmas present money on himself doesn’t disappoint his siblings and friends, and ultimately himself, because his parents give him extra money so he can buy their gifts. His selfishness continues unchecked.
An employee hides evidence of her colleague’s careless work when the auditor comes, and the colleague, seeing no problem with how she does her job, continues to do her work half-heartedly.
Much like these examples, if God had stepped in and done something to stop the perpetrator in this particular instance that disturbed me, the flaws in the institution that allowed those evil actions would have never come to light. Another person could have come along in the institution and done the same thing. One small battle to stop evil would have been won, but the war would rage on.
None of us can understand the mind of God. We may feel like a child who doesn’t get a birthday gift from her brother because he spent his gift money and their parents refuse to give him more. Innocent people suffer because of the consequences of someone else’s misuse of their free will.
We know that God wins the final victory over evil. Unfortunately, we may get a few battle scars along the way. Let us not lose hope when it seems that evil is winning a battle. In the age to come, God will heal our wounds and wipe away every tear from our eyes.
Copyright 2020 Monica Portogallo
Image: Pixabay (2016)
About the Author
Monica Portogallo is a wife, mother, and registered dietitian nutritionist who does her best not to miss the lessons God sends to her through the joys and struggles of daily life. She lives in California.