God gave us free will, and we often misuse it. When Christians are persecuted, says St. Clement of Alexandria, it’s not God who makes it happen: every judge who condemns them has a free will and is using it wrongly.
But if God cares for you, they say, then why are you persecuted and put to death? Did God make that happen?
No, we don’t suppose that the Lord wants disasters to happen to us, but that he foretold prophetically what would happen. He said we’d be persecuted for his name’s sake, slaughtered and impaled. So it’s not that he wanted us to be persecuted, but that he predicted what would happen and warned us that we would suffer—training us in endurance, to which he promised the inheritance.
But the injustice of the judge does not affect the providence of God. The judge must be master of his own opinion; he’s not pulled by strings like some inanimate machine, moved only by external causes. So he is judged by his judgment—just as we are judged by our choice of what things are desirable, and by our endurance.
–St. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellany, 4.11
Am I tempted to blame God for bad things that happen to me?
Lord, use me as an instrument to help overcome violence and establish your law of justice and love.
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