God's Punishment?

Most human beings throughout time have tried to come up with explanations for why bad things happen to others. In my opinion, it seems to be part of the human condition to attempt to rationalize, to find fault in others, to find a 'reasonable' reason why Heavenly Father has allowed something bad to happen. If someone is raped, maybe they were dressed for it or even in the wrong situation... If someone is murdered, than maybe they were in a place they shouldn't have been or had bad behavior... If a child dies in an accident, we suspect the parents could have been more vigilant or responsible. Excuses are even found in a positive vein- “They were so good that God took them home” or “God really knew what he was doing when he gave you this challenge- I could never have done as well as you!” It appears that we come up with excuses that make us feel more comfortable.... not the afflicted If people have bad things happen to them because of something they did, then we are safe, we do not have to worry... it could never happen to us because we wouldn't do 'that'.

I read a study a few years ago that talked about the dichotomy of how human beings think. We are able to rationalize our own behavior and when bad things happen to us we are able to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt- after all, we know why we failed at something. We forgot, or had an emergency, became too busy, etc... but most human beings are unable to give others this same benefit of the doubt. Part of this may come from the idea that we cannot know their mind and so we cannot know why something happened. But people tend to be suspicious and fearful and so we tend to think that when people have trouble, then it must have been something that they did. This allows us to justify bad opinions of them, good opinions of ourselves, and to feel comfortable with the idea that those same 'bad things' will not happen to us. After all, how fearful could we become if we realized that most of the bad things that happen in life are random/non personal because of someone else's agency and only a small amount of bad things are truly due to our own agency?

I have a hard time understanding why people (including myself) cannot find a way to figuratively step back and give our fellow brothers and sister's more tolerance and understanding in all circumstances. Why we are not able to take a small amount of time (and even prayer) to try and see into the hearts and minds of our fellow human beings and give each other the 'benefit of the doubt'? Why can we not assume that people are usually not genuinely out to hurt us... that mistakes, misunderstandings, and bad things can happen? We can truly err without full knowledge and harm others by our behavior and judgments in ways that we ourselves may be unable to fathom.

While I am really struggling to understand why we as human beings are unable to be more tolerance and understanding of each other, I am truly unable to understand why some people use their intolerance and fear as 'scatter-shot'; spewing forth their rationalizations as a shot in the face to those individuals that they wish to express their fear and anger against, but also hitting dozens and hundreds of individuals that were not their original targets. The most recent case in point that I can think of are the words of Republican Bob Marshall from Virginia at a press conference last week...

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children. In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

So, assuming that all first time abortions are elective and have no reasonable need or reason, Heavenly Father has set it up so that these families and innocent children will suffer his vengeance? (Please do not make me waste time with statistics or friend's accounts showing that this assumption is void and untrue- I am hoping that it is obvious.) Doesn't take much of a stretch for like-minded individuals to decide that all parents with disabled children have had abortions or other pertinent misdeeds that they are being punished for. I wish that I could say that this gentlemen said something that most individuals would consider crazy and not true. But I have heard these explanations for most of my life. A parent told me when I was younger that my aunt was being 'punished' for marrying a non member of our church. So her punishment was for her son to have autism. My son has difficulties and I married a non member... so clearly I should have known better. ;) I have friends who have willing adopted those who are disabled, hoping to enrich the lives of these individuals as well as their own. The lives of individuals with disabilities and their families already have a difficult walk on this earth. They willingly take up the mantle that Heavenly Father has given them. They struggle, they fight real and figurative battles daily in the hopes that their children will have an easier life, understanding the reality that their children will face prejudice, hatred and fear in their life for many reasons not of their own making. In my opinion, Heavenly Father does not punish individuals for another's sins on purpose and disability is not a punishment for a parent's sin!

I believe that Heavenly Father allows some individuals to come this this world with differing challenges – let's face it, we allall will have challenges. Some of our challenges will be more obvious than the challenges of others, but I can not stress enough we will all have challenges, troubles, problems and heartache. No one -no matter how good and perfect- will have a perfect, challenge free life. The most perfect of us all (as Christians believe) is Jesus Christ and if we read the scriptures we make no mistake- he faced challenges and heartache. But our Loving Father allows people to come with bigger challenges for the good of all. We are all here on this earth to learn and help each other. So that we may lift each other up and take joy in our difference -not tear each other down in fear and intolerance.

This legislator claimed that disabled children are a punishment from God for past misdeeds. He is not alone by far in his beliefs. I find this claim to uphold unborn life as sacred, but in the same breath to dismiss and trivialize born, breathing life as distasteful and hypocritical. I can't help but wonder...why do almost all those individuals that claim to speak for God, end up sounding more like the Devil and his angels rather than our loving Father?

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