When terrible things happen, such as the tragic events in Moore, Oklahoma, non-believers often challenge Christians by saying, “You Christians are so quick to thank God for every little good thing that happens, as if God is personally causing the sun to rise on your rear end. But you never blame God when bad things happen. Why the double standard? If God is responsible for every little good thing, why isn’t he responsible for the messes too?”
This is a truly important question, and one that trips a lot of Christians up. It really doesn’t have to.
The easy answer to this challenge is that we Christians believe that, because of sin, the world is so hopelessly screwed up that nothing at all should, could, or would ever go right unless God intervened. The Christian is genuinely and happily surprised that the world isn’t filled even more death, chaos, and destruction than it already is. We thank God for every little blessing because we understand how hopelessly out of order the world is.
Christians know that people and the world are hopelessly lost without God. It is true that, at the beginning of time, the world existed in perfect balance. But Christians are all too aware that sin destroyed that balance. As a result, if anything bad happens, Christians know that’s just a normal day on planet Earth. The fact that it works at all is a miracle.
Let’s try a metaphor that could make this clearer.
The Broken Clock That Still Works
Throughout history, people have often referred to God as a clockmaker. There are certain problems with this view of God from a Christian point of view, but there is nothing really problematic about comparing the world to this proverbial clock. Imagine then, that the world was created to be a beautiful, complicated, grandfather clock. It keeps time perfectly. It works just as it should. One day, two kids end up wrestling near the clock. They’ve been warned not to play too close to the clock, but they get carried away and do it anyway. In their high spirits, they knock the clock over. It shatters. Glass and gears are scattered all over the floor. Now, let me ask you a few questions…
Would you ever expect the clock to tell time in its shattered state?
Would you consider it a miracle if, somehow, sometimes, even with the gears scattered all over the floor, it did tell the correct time anyway (more than twice a day, of course), even to the point of chiming correctly?
Would anyone accuse you of being crazy for being happily surprised to hear this broken clock chime perfectly and report that it was 1:15 or 2:30 or 3:45 when, in fact, it actually was 1:15, or 2:30, or 3:45?
You would be right to be surprised to hear the clock work correctly ever because you KNOW the clock is hopelessly broken. You assume that it isn’t going to work. There is nothing surprising about all the times the clock doesn’t chime or doesn’t keep time because it isn’t supposed to work anymore. What is tremendously surprising is the fact that, for some reason–a reason that opposes all logic to the contrary–the crazy thing still works sometimes. In fact, it even works more often than not!
And that is why Christians praise God for blessings but “let him off the hook” for the troubles. He didn’t break the world. We did. Yet somehow, despite all logic to the contrary, God finds ways to make the world work for us. It doesn’t happen all the time. It can’t. We have hopelessly broken it. And yet, it does work sometimes, even often. Aware of the miracle that this is, we praise God for it.
The Atheist Delusion
The problem is that for all their purported realism atheists are too optimistic. They see the chaos, pain, and insanity around them and still manage to think that the world’s normal state of affairs ought to be order, peace, and serenity. What utter nonsense! That opinion defies all logic and represents one more example of the insanity of atheism. It takes a truly deranged person to look at a hopelessly broken world filled with hopelessly broken people and, as atheists do, still expect it to work —to the point of being deeply, personally offended when it doesn’t. How could you possibly stare at a broken clock and be offended that it doesn’t tell time? It makes no sense!
It takes a Christian to see the world for what it is and, as a result, rejoice with heartfelt gratitude when it doesn’t function the way it looks like it ought to (i.e., not at all).
That’s why we praise God for the blessings. Destruction, death, disease, and misery is the normal state of affairs for the fallen world but the blessings aren’t possible without him. He deserves our praise for that.