We can never know in this world why bad things happen to some people and good to others, says St. Augustine. But that very uncertainty should teach us what we really ought to value.
In this world we learn to bear calmly the bad things that happen even to the good, and to hold cheap the blessings that even the wicked enjoy.
So, even when we can’t see God’s justice, his teaching is beneficial. We don’t know by what judgment of God this good man is poor and that bad man is rich— why someone we think should suffer acutely for his worthless life enjoys himself, while misery follows someone else whose commendable life makes us think he should be happy.
But although we don’t know why these things are done or allowed by God (in whom there is the highest virtues, the highest wisdom, the highest justice, no infirmity, no rashness, no unrighteousness), it is still beneficial for us to learn to hold cheap those things—good or bad—that come to good and bad people indifferently, and to learn to covet those good things that belong only to the good, and flee those evils that belong only to the evil.
–St. Augustine, City of God, 20.2
IN GOD’S PRESENCE, CONSIDER . . .
How can I use the injustice of this world to teach me proper regard for spiritual things?
Lord, in your goodness save me from the difficulties of this world, so that I may praise your name and be counted worthy of eternal life.
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