We all have desires, even if it’s the desire not to have any desires 🙂
When we get what we desire, we tend to call that “good,” and when we don’t, we tend to call that “bad.” But if everything that comes from God is by definition good, the question you might ask is why aren’t we getting what we want?
Let’s do a thought experiment: Let’s say you go to the doctor because your stomach hurts. After examining you and doing some tests, the doctor says: “Drink this medicine or you’re going to die.” But the medicine smells so foul that you can literally smell it coming down the hallway*. So you say “I don’t want to take that medicine, I want some chocolate cake instead.” Although you prefer the chocolate cake over the medicine, it will not help you. So, would giving you the chocolate cake instead of the medicine be good? Of course not.
So then, why do we assume that if something isn’t what we want that it’s bad? Now, if you ask don’t I have the right to chocolate cake instead of medicine? then the answer is yes. But don’t mix these up: not everything that’s good for us is what we want, and not everything we want is good for us.
The following old story has many versions, but here’s one of them:
One day an old farmer was working in his fields and his horse ran off. His neighbors came over to sympathize with him. “That’s bad luck,” they said. “We’ll see,” he replied. The next day the horse came back with two other wild horses. The neighbors came by and said “that’s good luck.” The farmer just said “We’ll see.” The next day, the farmer’s son was trying to ride one of the wild horses, was thrown and broke his leg. The neighbors came over and said “that’s bad luck.” “We’ll see,” said the farmer. The next day the army came through the area, conscripting any able-bodied young men. Because the farmer’s son had a broken leg, they passed him by.
What’s good and what’s bad is hard to determine from your own subjective standpoint. By ourselves, this is all we have to go on — which is why it’s important not to dismiss out-of-hand long-established traditions for the sake of the new and different. Of course, sometimes new approaches are better than old ones, but we must learn to adopt them carefully.
Of course, it’s difficult or impossible to see any good that comes from some things (the needless suffering of children comes to mind), and so it’s also true that true evil does exist. This is an important topic for another day.
* This is a real medicine that was once given to someone I know.