“Many see the work of evil, with its woe and desolation, and question how this can exist under the sovereignty of One who is infinite in wisdom, power, and love” Ellen G. White.
No question to this day is more critical than the one posed by this article’s title. Catastrophic incidents like the one which befell the world on September, 11, 2001 are an indication of the presence of evil, that evil is real. It does not matter who you are minding your own business, evil can come to you! How can the problem of suffering be explained by those who serve a wise, good, and all powerful God? Duncan Nicholas Williams was one day ministering to high level staff from the White House in Washington; in that meeting one of the most senior person asked a question, “How come innocent people especially kids are being killed if God is a good God like you say He is? She asked? Her contention and rightly so was, if God is a good God like He is being portrayed, how come He is doing nothing about the killings of innocent children; what have the children done?
The twenty first century has a carry-over, a spill if you like, of intense suffering for multitudes around the world that characterized the twentieth century; and there is no indication in this present time that the agony graph will gone come down! The legacy of our times among other things includes more than ever before the threat of nuclear disaster and the horror of great atrocities various parts of the earth – Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda, Tunisia, Egypt, the Middle East, Al Qaeda, and the Boko Haram acrobatics to name a few. Weather systems are shifting, and these changes in weather patterns have spelled famines and extreme heat in some parts of the world. Economic hardship is also worsening, particularly in Africa.
In his book ‘The Problem of Pain’ C.S Lewis say “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse the deaf world.” Lewis’ view borders on the notation that evil can be an instrument; in that, God in His wisdom and providence makes all evil contribute to the total good of the universe.
Put another way, God uses evil as a measure through which result in human good. When responding to the question posed to him by this White House lady, Duncan Nicholas Williams said, “Number one, God is not in charge of this world.” The lady surprised asked, “What did you just say?” Williams repeated his initial response and continued, “The devil is the god of this world, 2Corinthians 4:4 and Ephesians 2 assert that.”
The lady intercepted Williams, “Who then is in charge of this world?” Williams rejoined, “The church is supposed to be in charge of this world because God has given us the responsibility to govern the earth, Jesus said “Occupy till I come”” He carry on, “When the church does nothing, we fold our hands and hold our peace and seat back; we allow the devil the freedom to steal, kill and destroy, and to have a field day to do as he (devil) pleases. The lady exclaimed, “I have never seen it that way before!”
There are philosophical and religious attempts that have been made to try to reconcile the apparent conflict between evil and the character of God. Bernard Ramm explores the view that evil can be used as an instrument – evil as instrument. Those who hold the view that evil can be used as an instrument premise this view upon Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28; that God in His wisdom causes everything to work for the common good. According to Ramm there are seven theories or versions in support of this view, but will look at four:
The Aesthetic Version – by itself evil appear to be irrational and contrary to the goodness of God. However, in its total perspective it is instrumental in contributing to the beauty of the universe.
Dualistic Version – the view is premised upon the assumption that the struggle between good and evil form the composition of the universe. This view further propounds that although good is not utterly realized, in this struggle, good will eventually triumph and somehow a greater good will emerge.
Calvin’s Version – the writings of John Calvin the French reformer and theologian have influenced the development of this theory. This theory points to a realm under which Christ absolutely rules as Lord over the entire universe and everything converges to glory of God; evil will someday be a means to that end! For it is the triumph of God over evil that He will be fully revealed in all of His glory.
The Struggle Version – according to this view, contest produces character. That given, the fullest development of one’s nature is directly proportional to the struggles or obstacles they overcome. It is believed that the struggle against evil can only make one have such qualities as courage, resourcefulness, godly character, and love.
Though I have not exhaustively dealt philosophically with the subject matter, suffice to say since it is primarily God’s ability under examination, we shall look into the Bible to conclude why God allows suffering.
Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.
The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.
Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.
At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.
Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.
Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).
This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.
In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.
Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?
Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.
POSITIVITY Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.
“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)
We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”
Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.
Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be. You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.
When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.
Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.
However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.” “Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)
COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT
Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.
It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.
Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.
Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.
The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.
It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.